Millions of users surf the internet. Recent studies report that YouTube registers around 5 billion views per day. Facebook, magazines, favorite forums, and similar sites are the first things you see when you open your eyes.
The functionality of the World Wide Web is manifold. It also provides much material for controversy. But we all agree about one thing: it changed us, and our perception of the world forever.
Living inside a bubble is not possible anymore. Very few people in the world can claim that they have never accessed the internet or visited a site.
But what does this all mean? The more you use the internet, others do too. The more time you spend there, the more activities from life will be transferred into the virtual world. That is why marketing agencies are actively posting ads on countless pages that you visit. Eye-catching commercials, flashy designs, and show-stopping headlines are just some methods ad companies use to gain your attention.
The latest approach that they have been using is targeting specific audiences. When the public discovered that their web surfing activities were being closely monitored by a string of nameless trackers, we became afraid. But we continued browsing as if nothing happened.
Trackers that follow you around are mostly marketing-related, but the question remains: is it safe to browse the internet? And how do make sure you stay safe all the time? Let’s discuss this.
Are You Sure?
The internet is truly a magnificent place. It is constantly expanding, just like the universe. If we were to draw a parallel between the two, we would spot one striking difference: we are mostly protected from the extraterrestrial stuff out there. Our atmosphere is guarding us against harmful intrusions, while the internet – not so much.
We mentioned above marketing-associated trackers that monitor your web activities. Numerous studies of the phenomenon emerged as soon as it was discovered. And what they revealed is that these trackers are a type of third-party cookies that you are offered at the door of each site.
Of course, in the beginning, you weren’t offered a choice. Sites (and third-party trackers) followed you around gathering data about you at every step. These chunks of info mainly revolved around your IP address, username, language preference, and the like. Sites need to know your details so that they can customize your experience the next time you visit. And in a way, that sounds reasonable.
What is not reasonable is third-party tracking. Most of the third-party trackers are not visible to you. You might never learn who is following you around and gathering your info for their unspecified purposes. We now know that most of these trackers do it for custom ads that fit your search and traffic preferences.
And as privacy became one of the most public topics in the IT realm, everyone had to update their policies to include a choice for you. You can now choose who you want to follow you. But do you actually know who that is?
The Followers You Do Not Want
Third-party cookies are not necessarily bad for you. They are like first-party cookies in terms of ‘remembering your data’ for future use. To illustrate, imagine logging into your Facebook account. When you access your account, Facebook will remember your password and username, so that you do not have to enter it again the next time. The data collected (password and username) are first-party cookies. Now, let’s imagine you visit another site that has nothing to do with your Facebook. If you notice a Facebook Like or Share button anywhere, that means that the site is linked with Facebook via the third-party connection. Now Facebook knows what the website that you visited knows. The data that the site collected are third-party cookies for Facebook and first-party cookies for the site.
Many users find this disturbing and unacceptable. A push for disabling third-party cookies has been one of the biggest trends of 2019, and in a way, it continues into 2020. The new decade is the time of personal data, and no one wants to be a target for unwelcome ads and cyberattacks.
Start from the Browsers
One of the biggest companies in the world Google recently announced that it plans to end support of third-party cookies by 2022. The news surprised everyone actively involved in IT. How does Google plan to disable third-party cookies when they bring more than 90% of total profits to Google?
Well, no one is quite sure, but experts are predicting a significant shift in digital marketing. Agencies and companies will be forced to find new ways of reaching their audience and gathering data. Let’s remember, Google’s Chrome browser is one of the most popular browsers in the world. Chrome finished 2019 with 63.62% of market share, according to StatCounter Global Stats.
However, as users demand more privacy and security, browsers and companies are developing software and protocols for keeping everyone safe online.
Microsoft announced the new Edge browser that will automatically block all third-party cookies that you did not authorize. Perhaps this is what spurred Google to action? We cannot know, but we hope this will bring an extra layer of protection for all Chrome users.
Privacy as a Global Matter
The question of privacy and data protection surpasses internet browsers and Google. Social media and other sites that you visit frequently are just one part of your virtual exploration. But it seems that the world is learning the importance of privacy and security. The cyberattack, identity thefts, and scams have entered our vocabulary years ago. And each industry and branch is now creating regulations and updating policies to keep the users safe. After all, without the users, there wouldn’t be traffic, right?
The new policies have been introduced to many fields, especially entertainment. As most users tend to use the internet for recreational purposes, incorporating strong safety measures was paramount. That is why various gaming sites now offer extra layers of user protection. Even the online casino industry, as one of the most delicate branches of entertainment, pays special attention to privacy. All online casinos must follow strict complacency rules and regulations in securing your protection. Verification protocols, two-factor authentication, and just two techniques used for extra safety.
But that does not mean anything if you do not care about your privacy. In other words, yours is the first step in protecting yourself against harmful trackers and attackers in the virtual world.