Stop Your Tech from Stalking You

Unless you’re a reality television star, you probably don’t like the idea of being watched at all times. So, why would you want your technology to know all about you? With digital technology today, it’s far too easy for our devices to turn creepy. Here are some suggestions to stop the stalker-like tendencies of the technology you rely upon.

Today’s marketing and online communications are all about customization and personalization. If you like a friend’s picture of an Art Deco door in Belgium, you see many more posts featuring similar designs. Or if you view an area rug on a website, you’re suddenly bombarded with ads for rug stores when you next go online.

This can add convenience, but it is also unsettling. What companies online know about you could be more detailed than what your friends know. Take the following steps to regain control of what your computer, phone, and apps know about you.

Review your privacy settings

Whether going online from a phone, laptop, desktop, or tablet, get to know the device’s privacy settings. Some important settings to review include:

  • email tracking – this can let people know if you opened their message or not;
  • location tracking – personalizes recommendations but also tells search engines where you are;
  • voice recordings – manufacturers use these to train virtual assistants, but pause this to keep your conversations to yourself;
  • purchase history – this helps feed the machine so that businesses know how to target you in the future.

Opt out or block ads

Opting out of ads limits the information collected from your browser or device. The site or business still receives basic information about you, but you will no longer receive targeted, interest-based ads any longer. Apple’s iOS 14 allows app blocking, and you can also express your choice on Android devices.

Otherwise, use browser ad blockers, such as AdBlock Plus, or JavaScript blockers, such Ghostery, to limit ad tracking. Also known as content blockers, these software programs prevent ads from showing on websites you visit. You can find ad blockers for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer.

Check your permissions

Watch the permissions you give apps. We have already talked about checking device settings, but you can also limit the permissions you give to apps. For example, social media accounts have privacy settings that allow you to control what’s logged about you.

Plus, check permissions for other apps. Clash of Clans doesn’t need location services, for instance. Or you might not want to give Slack access to your microphone and video recordings.

Use webcam covers

Covering your webcam stops someone from potentially seeing and recording you. If you think you’d see the light come on to show the webcam is in use, know that hackers can disable that. A simple sliding webcam cover closes the webcam when you are not using it to avoid a cyber criminal having access.

Covering your webcam can also come in handy in all those online meetings you’re having. A covered camera means you don’t run the risk of your colleagues catching you unprepared.

Limit information you provide

Social media has created a culture of oversharing. There are probably many things you’ve seen about friends online that you would rather not know. You’re also sharing more than you need to with the companies that you interact with online.

If you’re filling out a form for a download, you might fill out only the required fields. When you add an app, be stingy with your personal details. Think about it from a need-to-know perspective. For instance, that home design game you love to play doesn’t need to know where you went to high school or with whom you bank.

Need help keeping the privacy-busting algorithms at bay? We can help. Our IT experts can configure device settings to limit information gathered about you online. Contact us today at 508-617-1310.