Have you ever been angry on advertisements that appeared while you were surfing web-pages? Maybe you even asked why the ads was about a product that I you were looking for a few days ago? That’s because websites know something about you, and not a little as you imagine.
Every time when you open any website, your computer sends data that is needed for the normal loading of the web page. Over time, small programs (scripts) were added in the code. Scripts collect more information than it is necessary. Officially, this information is only used to optimize job search engines, websites and target ads. What happens with these data in fact remains behind the scenes.
Is it possible to feel safe on the Internet without a VPN? How do web sites collect information about us?
The first thing that a website “sees” is the IP address of a user. The IP address is bound with ISP (Internet Service Provider) and helps to identify the country, region and approximate location of the user. This information is typically used by search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo for advertising goods and services in the location (region) of your staying. Although IP did not disclose full information about the user, his movements can be tracked.
HTTP reports where a user came from each time when he clicks the link in the search page ore moves from one site to another. This is so-called HTTP referrer. In addition, the script receives information about viewing content from the browser. This data is collected for targeted advertising but if it is systematized one can get information about the Internet activity of the user and his interests. These scripts are often run in a mode that is hidden from user and even can illegally redirect the user to other web pages. Install the app Ghostery to understand the script’s activity.
The purpose of using cookies is to make the work of user more convinient. They are not prohibited and are used to store user settings. For example, thanks to cookies website “remembers” username and password of the user. However, there are the so-called 3rd party cookies that collect information about the target pages of a user with reference to the specific identifier.
Cookies can be removed easily, but it does not guarantee the anonymity because of supercookies. They are much harder to detect and remove because they are saved not only by the web browsers, but embedded in it technologies. The example is HTML5. Thus, if the user removes cookies from the browser, they can be restored.
This is another simple but quite effective way to gather information about the user. User Agent informs the web server about the type and version of browser and operating system, interface language and other information that allows identifying the person.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that two browsers with the same settings occur not more than once in 100 000 cases. Test your browser’s uniqueness on the Panopticlick website.
The facts mentioned above confirm that collection of such information violates the right to online anonymity and the right to privacy. Using a VPN together with TOR-browser is the best solution in this situation.