Can Someone Track Your Internet Browsing?

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A person’s Internet browsing activity can be tracked through the use of cookies, Internet protocol addresses and malware. If an Internet user doesn’t take steps to safeguard against tracking, business entities and unauthorized individuals, known as hackers, may be recording the user’s browsing habits, says Kate Murphy of The New York Times.

As Samantha Felix from Business Insider explains, many companies place cookies onto visitors’ computers each time the company’s website is accessed. In addition to these cookies, third-party advertisers pay to place cookies on visitors’ computers through the use of various trackers, such as Javascript and iframe Web coding elements. Once the trackers have been placed, they can relay information about a person’s browsing activity back to the companies that placed them. This type of monitoring is used to collect information that companies eventually sell to marketers and other tracking services.

Hackers can also place cookies onto computers through malware contained within malicious emails that initiates when a reader clicks on a link. Diagnostic tools can intercept and block unwanted cookie requests from Web pages. However, not all cookies are used to track Web browsing activity, such as the cookies placed on computers to keep people logged into online email accounts.