Hidden trackers attack your program — how to erase them

Online websites can assist with concealing your data from hackers

As long as your phone is on, it is sharing data. This happens whether you have an iPhone or an Android, but one company is tracking a lot more than the other. Tap or click here to see if Apple or Google collects more data.

I bet your home address, phone number, and even more personal information is a search that is available to anyone, often for free. I value my privacy, so my team and I have put together a great resource to help you. Tap or click here for steps on how to remove yourself from 19 of the biggest people search sites.

Advertisers are notorious for watching what you do and where you go online. This is valuable and very beneficial information. Here’s a way to stop some spying.

Hackers attack internet
Hackers attack internet 

Bad kind of Cookies

Think of cookies as the trail you leave behind when you're online. A first-party cookie is created and stored in your browser when you visit a website. It keeps things like your login info and shopping cart, so you don't have to fill them in again each time. First-party cookies also preserve options and settings.  

That's useful, but cookies can be invasive, too. Companies use cookies to track where you go and what you do online. They'll even do it on a website other than the one you’re visiting. Advertisers love cookies because they help customize the ads you see. If the ads appeal to you, you're more likely to click them, which yields a higher ROI. 

Pro tip: You can block third-party cookies and other invasive tools through your browser. The level of protection varies, but it’s worth the time to change your default settings. Tap or click here for tips on changing your privacy settings in some of the most popular browsers. 

Blocking third-party cookies and tracking is one thing, but what about not being subject to tracking methods initially? That’s where AdChoices and WebChoices come in.

Delete tracking cookies from your browser

AdChoices is a program of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), a group of advertising and marketing companies that self-regulate to provide you with options for targeted advertising. Why would they self-regulate? So, of course no one else takes steps to do so.

Give it a try the next time you see an ad online. Look for the small AdChoices icon. It looks like a blue triangle with a lowercase “i” in the middle.

Click that to get information about the ad, change its settings and block it. Not all advertisers participate in the program, but you’ll know it when you see the symbol. 

Go further: Delete this secret ID hiding on your phone that gives away your personal details 

Within AdChoices is a tool called WebChoices. You can use this tool to opt-out of many companies in one step. As with AdChoices, it only works for companies that participate in the program.  

Get this: I used it to kick out 144 different tracking cookies! 

Woman using smartphone on a wooden desk.  (iStock)
Woman using smartphone on a wooden desk.  (iStock)

Here’s how to use WebChoices: 

Along with a list of companies that create targeted ads for you, Visit Web Choice will scan your browser and computer to find out if first-party and third-party cookies are enabled. You will also see which companies you have already opted out of if you used the tool.

After the status check is complete, click Continue.

Look at the Optimizing Ads on Your Browser To see which companies use targeted ads. if it says YesYou can opt out of that company by checking the box under get out off column.

Or you can select everything by clicking Opt Out of All. 

After making your selection, click Submit Your Choices. (You can skip those steps by clicking Opt Out Of All as a first step.) 

The website will process your selection, and you click View updated results To see how it turned out.

The WebChoices tool works for the browser you’re currently using, so run it for each if you use more than one browser. If you didn’t catch every company the first time, try rerunning the scan. 

If you delete cookies, you may not see the opt-out choices for the company, so run the scan now and then. 

A lock icon, signifying an encrypted Internet connection, is seen on an Internet Explorer browser in a photo illustration. (REUTERS/Mal Langsdon)
A lock symbol, connoting a scrambled Web association, is seen on a Web Wayfarer program in a photograph representation. (REUTERS/Mal Langsdon)

Continue Your Technical Knowledge 

My popular podcast is called "Kim Komando Today." It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode. 

In this episode, Google updates Photos with redesigned Memories and a new collage editor, use your photos for a virtual clothing fit at Walmart, Keurig's new smart brewer makes a mind-blowing amount of coffee and how to get your real signature on digital docs. Plus, a rescue helicopter nearly abandoned a stranded man by mistaking his distress call. 

Watch my podcast "Kim Komando Today" on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast player. 

Just find my last name “Kamando”

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call up Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, TV or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcast.

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