Unless you've been Palm Piloting under a rock for the last decade, you probably know that everything you do online is constantly monitored. From websites looking to curate a more personalized experience to social networks hoping to better target ads, every button clicked, key typed, and page scrolled is likely being recorded in the background in order to better understand your behavior. And whether or not that freaks you out, it's worth knowing how to protect your privacy.
Here are some quick tips to help you shield yourself from prying cyber eyes.
1. Adjust your browser settings
Appropriate browser settings should be your first line of defense. The trick here is to protect yourself from third party cookies, which are tiny files saved to your computer and monitored by advertisers and other entities (beyond the site you're visiting) to better understand your online behavior.
In Chrome, go to Preferences > Show advanced settings > Privacy > Clear browsing data to clear your existing cookies and browsing history. Then, from Privacy, hit Content Settings > Block third-party cookies. Check out this tutorial to see exactly how to do it on all major browsers.
2. Go Incognito
For a stopgap measure that promises fully protected privacy in a pinch, launch a private browsing window. Unlike the default window, they're set up to prevent any information (including browsing history) from being transmitted or saved. On your MacBook, type Command > Shift > N simultaneously to open an Incognito window. Most major browsers allow you to launch such a feature from somewhere on the File drop down menu.
3. Install add-ons that block trackers for you
There are a couple slick (and free!) browser add-ons that will automatically keep any site or social network from transmitting your personal data to third parties. Try installing Ghostery and DoNotTrackMe, which scan pages as they load to reveal and block who's tracking you, unless you give it permission to do otherwise.
4. Don't forget about privacy on mobile
Since you probably do a lot of browsing on your phone, it's more important than ever to pay attention to your mobile privacy settings. Your safest bet is to only access social networks via their own dedicated apps, and launch a new private window each time you get on the web. Also take a moment to turn on any "Do Not Track" features in your default browser settings. In iOS, open Settings > Safari > Do Not Track.
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