Remember when privacy used to be a given? No one even had to talk about it or discuss it at length like we do today. Everyone had a certain measure of privacy, and it would be wrong to infringe upon that. Most people respected this, and society got along fine.
In 2021, that’s changed.
You might think the state of your privacy is the same as yesterday or even 20 years ago. This is an unfortunate mistake many people make. With the advent of technology and everyone carrying a minicomputer in their pockets, we’re being tracked constantly. It’s simply a matter of whether we know it or not. If you know you’re being tracked, you’ll be able to implement changes that will allow you to regain a measure of your privacy. If you don’t, however, you’ll be like everyone else. In this article, we’ll be discussing the various ways your privacy might be infringed on, through the use of user agents, IP location tracking, and fingerprinting. We’ll also talk about how the use of a residential proxy might be your only shot at a private presence online.
How can a residential proxy help?
Residential proxies allow you to hide your IP address and the country you’re browsing from. It provides you with access to over 40 million residential IP addresses and 40 countries 24/7. With Smartproxy, you can even choose if you’d like your IP address changed every 10 minutes or if you’d like to use a “sticky session”, which would change it every 30 minutes.
Using a different IP address with each request is a surefire way to prevent tracking. Unlike other free proxies, you’ll find that you don’t encounter Captcha or any slowdowns with an average speed of 3.1s.
Method #1: Fingerprinting
“Fingerprinting” is quite similar to the forensic investigations you see on TV. It all begins when your device visits a website for the first time. The server asks your device for basic information about it, like the screen resolution and system settings.
However, this information can also be used to identify you. You see, the data the server requests from your computer is unique to your device. The server then uses this information to form a “digital fingerprint” and assigns it to you.
This means that each time you visit that website afterwards, the page will be able to identify you from your previous visits. It was initially meant to help advertisers improve conversion tracking across their sites. For example, if you saw an advertisement for a product on Wednesday and proceeded to buy it on Thursday, fingerprinting would allow the advertiser to connect that sale to the ad.
Unfortunately, hackers and other nefarious characters are appropriating it for their own purposes.
Once you’ve been fingerprinted, it’s very difficult to change your fingerprint. Unlike cookies, you can’t just delete your fingerprint or change it in any way. The information that makes up a fingerprint, things like your browser settings and display settings, can’t be modified to hide your identity.
Method #2: IP location tracking
Like fingerprints, the problem starts when you visit a website and a server exchanges information with your computer. You could think of it as exchanging phone numbers with a friend. Incomplete contact information means poor communication. Your computer needs to fully reveal information like its IP address to the server and vice versa.
Once the server has received your IP address, it can proceed to track it. Typically, your location can be narrowed down to the state you live in and no further than that. However, if you’re using a static IP address, your location can be more precisely determined.
Your IP address is also unique to your device and cannot be changed easily. Even if you were to change it, it would be easy to figure out who you are behind your new IP address through the use of fingerprinting and user agent tracking.
Method #3: User agents
This refers to a line of text your device sends to a server when it visits a website. This text contains essential information like the operating system you’re running and what browser you’re using. The official reason for this is that the website can be optimized to deliver the best user experience possible to the user.
However, your user agent is unique to the device you’re using, so it can also be manipulated and used to track you.
Unlike the other methods stated in this list, user agents can be changed relatively easily using a browser extension. If you’re on Chrome, we recommend you try User-Agent Switcher for Chrome. With a click of the button, you can access websites as if you’re using an entirely different operating system and browser. This extension has over two million installs at the time of writing, so you can trust it.
At the end of the day, we can only do our best to protect our privacy. The first step towards leading a more private life online is to realize that there is a problem. Once you’ve done this, you can start to make little changes to your lifestyle to reach the desired end goal: complete privacy. Start using a residential proxy, use a user agent switcher, stop surfing on suspicious public networks. Your future self will thank you.