MANAGE YOUR ONLINE PRIVACY

Everyday we perform mundane but necessary tasks such as paying bills, taking care of our health and managing our homes and families. Most of us now have online lives that require attention as well. Along with our social media presence, it is important to find time to monitor and protect our online privacy. Here are some suggestions for free online tools to get you started. 

  1. TURN "DO NOT TRACK" ON IN YOUR BROWSER'S PRIVACY CENTER.
    To find out how to opt into to "Do Not Track", USE THIS GUIDE. You can only request "Do Not Track", it is up to individual companies to abide by your request - and you will still get ads, just not targeted ads based on your search profile.

  2. DOWNLOAD TRACKER BLOCKING SOFTWARE.
    For example, Ghostery shows you which companies are tracking you. You can learn about them and decide if you want to block them. They have a database of over 2200 tracking companies that you can opt out of no matter what website you are on. It keeps track of every tracker seeking access to you as you surf the web.

  3. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR SOCIAL LOGINS
    For example, My Permissions is free software that scans your devices and shows you which apps have access to your personal information and allows you to manage their access. 
     
  4. MANAGE YOUR ADOBE PRIVACY SETTINGS FOR FLASH COOKIES.
    Presently 98% of all internet users have downloaded adobe flash players - it is what allows us to watch video, use animation and play video games. However, Adobe install Flash Cookies which stores information on your local computer similar to cookies that you may want to delete for security or privacy reasons. Flash cookies will reveal the names of websites where you have watched internet videos and contain other personal information you may not wish to maintain. This link for an explanation on how to remove flash cookies from your Adobe account. There's a balance: Deleting cookies can cause some inconveniences for you. For example, websites that use Flash (such as Pandora, YouTube, etc.) will log you out and force you to log in again.
     
  5. BE INFORMED ABOUT THE ECOSYSTEM OF TRACKERS THAT FOLLOW YOU.
    Lightbeam for Firefox is a browser plug in to see which and how many companies are tracking you over the course of a normal day
     
  6. SEARCH SECURELY.
    Disconnect prevents search engines from tracking your searches. Choose between searching with DuckDuckGo, Bing or Yahoo and your search goes through Disconnect's servers - so your searchers can never be tracked. You can also track the trackers similar to Ghostery.
     
  7. TRY OUT A SECURE SEARCH ENGINE.  
    For example, Duck, Duck, Go doesn’t store any of the information that is automatically transmitted by your computer — the IP address and other digital footprints — so it has no way to link your search queries to you. That means DuckDuckGo won’t auto-complete your search queries based on your previous searches or based on your physical location, as Google does. So you’ll have to be a little smarter about your searches, and remember to bookmark the pages that you visit often, to save time.

There are many "flavors" of cookies that are placed on your computer for various reasons - some improve your user experience by remembering passwords, etc, others are for understanding user patterns and still others are purely for marketing purposes. Some can identify you and others provide anonymous data. Privacy policies outline which types of cookies you must agree to before accessing a website. 

1. Session cookies: A line of code that a website places on your computer to improve your user experience (ie remembers your passwords, what language you use, items in a shopping cart, etc). These cookies don't gather information about you that could be used for marketing.

2. Flash Cookies: These cookies are a way of tracing your movement and storing a lot more information about you than with normal cookies. They are not shown in the list of cookies that you can see when you take a look at the cookies that are currently saved in your web browser and therefore you cannot delete them like other cookies. They have to be managed in your privacy settings on Adobe.

3. Analytics Cookies: These cookies are used to gather information that helps understand user patterns. These cookies don't collect information that identifies you. The information collected is anonymous and is grouped with the information from everyone else’s cookies.

4. Affiliate cookies: These cookies are marketing cookies that track you when you click on an ad that takes you to another site. The other site often pays the original site a fee for the "referral".

5. Third party cookies: These cookies track your movement from website to website and collect data that can later be sold to marketing firms to create profiles about you and send you targeted advertisements.