Privacy and Cookies
Cyber Security, it's a hot topic here at Tech Wellness, and those cookies, they sound so yummy. However, when it comes navigating the Internet, they are anything but delicious.
Here's the skinny on Cookies
Cookies are little pieces of digital code or files created by websites you visit that store YOUR information. This information includes your browsing details, site preferences, and your profile. Websites have the ability to collect even more concerning details including your address and sometimes your location if you have “location” enabled on your device; and yes, even your name, if you give it to the site.
Cookies Come in Two Flavors
There are two kinds of cookies that affect your privacy and security: First, those set by the site you’re visiting—and in that case, it makes sense that they might keep your name, address, and credit card details for when you return, repurchase or browse again. Then there are third-party cookies: These come from advertisers, research companies, or other companies or networks that may have an image or ads embedded on the page. The “cookie” or digital code is dropped into your web browser by the site you’re visiting AND by the third-party advertisers and ad networks.
How the Cookies Crumble...
The cookie basically identifies you and it leaves a digital trail of what you’re looking for or what you’re doing on the site. That makes it easier for publishers to show you an ad and hopefully they get you to buy something and in the future, the interested party will recognize you when you return.
Who Wants Some New Shoes?
Here’s an example: say you’re searching “Cute shoes on sale”... Suddenly, every online ad you see is for those cute shoes or maybe even cuter shoes! Some sites that you casually visit may deposit over 50 different cookies in your browser every time you visit!! It’s no coincidence.
A Platter of Cookies Means . . .
The final result of all this cookie compiling results into something called a rich profile. Regardless of whether a website gathers the information in one visit or purchase or via several tied together using persistent cookies, you've entrusted the website operator private. For example, once a website operator knows that you (you being your mailing address, e-mail address, etc.) like shoes, the website can compile you with a list of other users who have purchased shoes online (or requested shoe content, posted to fashion message boards, etc.). That list has value for a third party looking to sell, for example, fashion videos, so you can imagine why the website may want to sell your browsing information. In our “cute shoe” example, the end result of the user receiving a piece of mail or e-mail may seem like a petty annoyance or maybe even a benefit to some. But the site could just as easily provide the list to any number of unsavory sites or to just a large number of sites that could result in a ton of unwanted marketing or ads. The bottom line is: Did you want to share your shopping/browsing information only with the store? Well, then DO NOT allow 3rd party cookies!
Hotel sites, Airline sites and your travel plans and Cookies
Have you ever visited an airline site, put in your itinerary, noted the price, left the site and came back later to find the price of your trip had gone UP? Well, sometimes it could be that prices have been adjusted according to timing and flight bookings, BUT, it could be that the site knows who you are, the flights you've been considering AND that you're back and that you may just go ahead and purchase that ticket, even though the price has increased. To eliminate the possibility of this scenario altogether: Try browsing without cookies or removing cookies once you leave the site and then, starting the next browsing experience with "fresh cookies" being placed.
Safe Browsing, the Internet of Things and Cookies
Safe browsing is browsing that empowers you to release information you choose to release. The first step is how you set up your browser. To begin, I really like Firefox. It gives you the ability to block every cookie and the ability to see every cookie if you allow them. All browsers allow you to select “Do not allow cookies” under Settings and then Privacy.
But What You Must Know About Browsing On Chrome, Cookies, and Privacy.
Google owns Chrome. Google's reason d'etre - The reason it exists and is so powerful is SEARCH. You search for what you want and Google gets to show you ads(the one's in the search results) and Google makes money!
Google Learns What Ads to Show You by Tracking What You Want and What You Do With Cookies! Then they can tell their advertisers which ads to show you so the advertiser and google are successful.
If You Use Chrome, your search activity and your online browsing activity is automatically, by default shared with Google.
If you're logged in to Chrome or using your Google account with Chrome(you'll see your face in the upper right corner) you are linking all the data google knows via your email account and all your online moves.
Google owns YouTube, so what you watch is also included in the information Google knows about you.
You can block cookies on Chrome, but check this out:
It looks like Chrome is saying that there's a tracker on your browser--that each time we download Chrome-there's an individual token, just for our Chrome that tracks promotions--or Google or YouTube ads? Even if cookies are blocked!
I do not use Chrome. Finally, after a recent national news story, neither does my husband--the Memory issue sealed the deal for him. But for me, it was knowing how Google treated or SAVED all email data.
Google through it's Vault, saves every word you type, it's disconcerting when you see what that looks like:
Want to See What Cookies Websites are Placing on Your Computer--to track you?
Try it in your browser. Go to the Privacy Settings or Content Settings and you'll see "Cookies" Choose or Click Cookies or Manage Data and, you'll see that just about every site you visit has placed cookies on your computer. It's wild to watch.
May as wild, what happens on some sites when you block cookies
Just today I blocked all cookies and visited the NY Times and saw I could read stories, but all of the advertisements were gone.
On Fast Company, the website loaded and "flashed" off. No cookies, no fast company.
Full disclosure on Techwellness.com. The site is built on the Shopify platform, the good news that even with cookies blocked you can do everything on our site EXCEPT put our fabulous solutions in the cart and check-out. Like all shopping sites, Shopify places many cookies, some for the payment providers and the shipping companies and some to share with the dreaded "third parties." The good news, you can delete your cookies AND when you shop with us we exercise the option of ERASING OUR CUSTOMER DATA using our Shopify platform according to the European General Data Protection Regulation.
Here's How To Block Cookies and Erase Them on Firefox and Chrome:
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE: Disable Cookies for Shopping and Enable for Buying
FIREFOX Update to Version 66 and over
Step 1: Open your Firefox browser
Step 2: Go to preferences on the Firefox drop-down tab in the toolbar, on the top left corner of your screen
Step 3: Click on the Privacy and Security on the left hand side of the screen
Step 4: We suggest using Strict or even better Custom check Trackers Only in Private Windows
Step 5: Check Cookies Choose All Cookies For Complete No Cookie Tracking Bliss (This is the Tech Wellness Way!)-But First make sure you don't have any current cookies lurking around.
Step 6: Below the drop down there are several boxes, you'll see a heading: Cookies and Site Data, Here you can Clear Data or Manage Data--which means you can see which sites have placed cookies and clear them one by one.
Some sites will not allow you to visit/purchase without placing cookies. So if you need to allow minimal cookies--which is Firefox's Standard or Strict Setting.
Finally, to be Super-clear: Scroll Down To History and Clear or Delete all history and choose the selection that Erases History Everytime I close Firefox. .” This my friends will keep you and your loved ones safe from those "follow you everywhere" cookies and quite possibly keep Airlines and Hotels from increasing quoted rates when you leave their sites and then return.
Also, remember to also clear the “cache,”which stores images, scripts and other parts of websites you visit to speed up your browsing experience. That’s usually in a different part of Settings in your browser. It’s under "Advanced" in Firefox - I clear my cache once a week.
Step 1: On your computer, open Chrome
Step 2: At the top right, click More "Settings"
Step 3: At the bottom, click "Advanced"
Step 4: Under "Privacy and security," click "Site settings" "Cookies".
Step 5: Turn "Allow sites to save and read cookie data" off.
If you must enable cookies for shopping, be sure to follow Step 6.
Step 6: Turn on "Keep local data only until you quit your browser".
Hey, can't I just use Private Browsing or incognito mode? Well, not so much...
Privacy mode does erase your history from you or someone who may be using your computer, but it does NOT stop sites themselves from knowing you've visited. Most people aren't aware that Private Browsing isn't so private Here are the Top Search Engines to Protect Online Privacy Finally, remember this: privacy and security online can’t be guaranteed, so let’s be careful out there. On that note, get some Creepblockers--an easy and cheap fix to protect your internet privacy. You're already reading how to protect your searches, so why not protect your face?!
Xo August Brice
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