Although it might sound paranoid, there is sufficient evidence to believe that all of us are being tracked online.
Unlike a stalker who might be tiptoeing behind us, third-party trackers and other online threats to our privacy are often much harder to identify and can seem impossible to avoid.
Thankfully, there are some fairly simple steps you can take to help prevent this worrisome tracking.
If you are dreaming of a day when your online browsing will be completely anonymous, keep on reading. We will give you some very practical tips on blocking ads, hiding your browser history, and preventing breaches in privacy online.
What is Web Tracking?
You may not have heard of the term "web tracking," but we can guarantee that you have experienced it.
Web tracking happens when the website you are visiting can determine your online activities on its site.
While this act of tracking is usually "sold" as a method of improving your online browsing, this tracking actually collects information to then create a profile that advertisers can then use to flood you with ads.
Trackers can see information like:
- Your Internet Protocol address (and location)
- Your browsing history
- Movies you stream
- Games you play
- and more
Reasons Why You’re Being Tracked
Different companies use Google Analytics in order to target customers, showing them the services and the goods they might want or need.
Social media platforms like Facebook will show ads to users that are also personalized based on this process of online tracking.
While you don't see the marks you leave online, it is important to know that you are not completely anonymous online and that your online activities are being tracked.
Ways You’re Being Tracked
Here are some of the most common ways that you are being tracked online:
Your IP address, or Internet Protocol address, reflects the location of your device. This is the address that is often used for tracking you or your device. This IP address comes from your ISP (internet service provider) and allows your activities to be tracked on the web.
Cookies provide a trail (like crumbs from an actual cookie) that links you to a website you visited.
Supercookies are trickier because they track your history without detection.
This is a tiny speck of an object that is embedded in an email or web page, recording your online activities.
This method connects you to your device, including its browser extensions, OS, language, and other personalized device information.
What is Anti Tracking Software?
Anti-tracking software is software that helps ensure anonymous browsing, protecting your online privacy and helping prevent annoying targeted ads.
11 Best Anti Track Software
Here is a list of some of the best anti-tracking software on the market today:
1. Virtual Private Network (VPN):
VPNs (virtual private networks) help you connect to the web privately. When you open web browsers or to try access web pages, your requests are sent through your VPN's server before they reach the website's server, blocking the website from seeing your actual activity or location, all of which are encrypted by the VPN.
When you connect to a VPN server, you can choose from a pool of servers spread across the globe. Connecting to one of these servers, your IP address will reflect this VPN server location instead of your actual one.
2. DuckDuck GO:
This search engine is a great option when opting for anonymous browsing, as it will not track or store private information, and will not pass it on to web pages or apps. This search engine also prevents advertisers and even lets you see who is attempting to track you.
3. Tor Browser:
Tor Browser prevents online tracking.
This is a free anti-tracking tool that prevents third-party trackers and advertisers from tracking you and from uncovering your actual location. Tor Browser also helps users visit sites that are otherwise restricted.
Tor Browser prevents tracking online, allowing online users to elude the tracking on other sites by sending their traffic through a level of encryption.
The main differences between Tor Browser and a VPN are in the way they operate. Whereas a VPN sends your traffic through encrypted servers, these servers belong to a central server network. Tor, on the other hand, is decentralized. The Tor network is actually operated by users (open source).
One of the key practical differences between Tor and a VPN is that Tor is less user-friendly and is much slower than using a VPN.
4. Avast Anti-Track:
This anti-tracking software hides your IP, alerting users if anyone is tracking them.
On top of this, Avast also deletes your history to block trackers from accessing it entirely. This anti-tracking software also helps filter spam messages, which can be a huge nuisance!
This is a P2P platform that's goal is free speech online, allowing users to communicate without censorship. This platform stores your encrypted data in its decentralized network, making it hard for any hackers since there is no central server.
6. Disconnect Browser:
If this anti-tracking tool detects that websites are storing any of your private information it disconnects you. Then you will be sent messages that tell you the sites that are tracking you. It also blocks malware, ads, phishing, and hackers.
This anti-tracking software hides your fingerprint and gives users alerts to block trackers.
AntiTrack is an app or browser extension for Windows that will ensure that your activities are private, and it includes features like a tracking dashboard, cookie and tracker blocking, and anti-fingerprint technology.
Unlike Google and other web browsers, Brave is a secure browser that is renowned for its anti-tracking capabilities. This tool helps improve your speeds by eliminating pop-ups and blocking ads and spam messages. You can also opt to use Tor in a tab on the Brave browser to conceal your location and history with Tor's encryption.
9. Privacy Badger:
This is a simple anti-tracking program that does not even need to be configured. If Privacy Badger detects that you are being tracked online, it will jump to action, preventing your browser from loading any content from the offending sites. If it sees that there is a third-party tracker tracking your activity on more than three websites, it will also prevent any content from this tracker.
This is a tool that helps detect and remove malware, scanning files and offering you the chance to quarantine, exclude, or ignore files found from future scans.
This anti-tracker software is compatible with iOS, Android, Mac, or Windows devices, and it also has browser extensions. This platform checks websites for malware and blocked malicious content and requests.
Is it worth having anti-tracking software to protect your browsing history?
Yes. It is definitely worth it to use this software.
Are there any anti-tracking apps?
Definitely. Our top recommendation for an anti-tracking app is the SwitchVPN app. Using a VPN, your online traffic, IP, and location are hidden as your connection is sent through the process of encryption.
All of the suggestions above are also apps that are effective at helping get past the nuisance of online tracking.
Using a virtual private network is the very best way to protect yourself from tracking online.
When you use a VPN, your online activity and browser history will be anonymous, allowing you to avoid breaches in your privacy online. Virtual private networks are typically very affordable, and the cheapest SwitchVPN plan costs only $3.99 per month for an annual plan.
You can test it out for yourself if you are not quite sure about using a VPN, and this VPN comes with a 30-day refund guarantee, so you can use it for a month with no long term commitment needed.