Questions about private browsing

Discussion in 'macOS' started by ZuroPxi, Jul 19, 2014.

  1. ZuroPxi macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2014
    #1
    I've heard a few things here and there about sites, including airlines, tracking your browsing habits and and optimizing their prices accordingly.

    I also heard that about some online shopping sites like Amazon.com but I'm not certain if it is true. I use Ghostery and Adblocker as an attempt to prevent that from happening however, I know that cookies are still created and tracked with those programs running.

    So my question is, how can I stop that from happening? I don't mind seeing prices adjusted for me so long as I can check for the real price somehow before I make any purchase. I thought using a different browser or perhaps the same browser but in private mode would do the job but I don't think it really is after I've tested it. Any suggestions?
     
  2. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    #2
    Any time you visit a website, there are 2 types of data being stored simultaneously.

    The first type is local data. This includes cookies that the site sets in your browser, the history entry that your browser keeps, and any caching of the web page your browser does to increase navigation speed. Private browsing mode disables this local data. It does not affect tracking in any way, apart from preventing long term storage of tracking cookies.

    The 2nd type is data the website captures about you and stores on its server. This incudes your IP address; your approximate physical location; referrer info about how you found the site (incuding search terms); your unique browser fingerprint generated from the user agent, locale, extensions, fonts, screen size, and system info; everything you do on their site; and information received from cookies the site sets in your browser, as well as cookies from other sites that you previously visited. This is often combined into a very unique and traceable profile and sold to advertising agencies, who use it to tailor ads you see on different websites. Private browsing mode does not prevent this.

    Ghostery combined with some form of Javascript blocker will stop tracking cookies from being used. This is generally what provides the cross site tracking. You can also fake your user agent to make your browser appear more generic, but this is an imperfect solution. Nothing prevents the site from capturing data about what you do on it, including links you click, stuff you type in, and your IP.

    On the more extreme end, you can use a service like Tor to route your connection through several other servers and hide your real IP. This is slow though, and the last server in the chain (called an exit node) can read all of your data. Exit nodes are often run by unsavory characters and governments for the express purposes of sniffing data. The site however, will not know your IP and will not be able to generate as good of a profile, or will have a very tough time linking it to you.

    edit: Also, anytime you login to a site, all tracking protections go out the window during your session. The site can log everything you do and tie it to your profile, even if you're using Tor or a library computer. So if you logged into Amazon through Tor and browsed for some Russian novels, Amazon will target ads to you for Russian literature.
     
  3. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #3
    If you'd like a "more private browsing" environment, I suggest you give the "Epic Privacy Browser" a try.

    It's essentially the "Chrome" browser, but with ALL the "Google stuff" stripped out of it, and additional features added to enhance privacy, including private searches, no tracking, etc.

    It can even be set to "cloak" your IP address, making you invisible to "the other end".

    Free to download and use, and can be found here:
    https://www.epicbrowser.com
     

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