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Learn how websites secretly invade your privacy

The Internet is a world of possibilities, however, when surfing the web we do not imagine that our privacy is being invaded at various times.

Whenever you visit a website, you are collecting information about yourself, your preferences and online habits. Today, we cover the various ways a website invades your privacy.

1. Tracking your browsing history

When you enter a site that wants to collect your data, it starts searching for your browsing history and saves it for later review. Most of the time, search history is used to suggest products and services relevant to your online behaviour.

To avoid this, you should use a VPN whenever possible. A VPN is a virtual private network that allows you to securely access a private network and share data remotely over public networks, protecting your data.

2. Supercookies

A supercookie is a type of browser cookie programmed to be permanently stored on the user's computer. Sites use supercookies to monitor user routines that clear browsing and cache history.

Supercookies are often harder to detect and remove from devices because they can not be deleted in the same way as regular cookies.

3. Cookie synchronization

Cookie synchronization is a process that allows organizations to share information with each other. A site group can work together to use the stored data more effectively. This is a very common practice among advertisers, who use this technique to more precisely target the audience.

4. Sale of personal information

Whenever you make an online purchase, you are asked to enter an email address. By providing this data, you run the risk of this company selling your personal information to others - that is why you sometimes receive unsolicited emails in your inbox from sites you have never accessed and have not provided the data.

The most honest and reputable brands usually do not get involved in this practice because they guarantee the security of the data of the users of their websites.

An example of such abuses is the scandal surrounding the US company, Cambridge Analytica, which bought information and data from users of the "This is Your Digital Life" application and used it to serve Donald Trump’s presidential campaign during the last election. Data from users who downloaded the Facebook app were sold to Cambridge Analytica.

In Portugal, it is estimated that only 15 people have downloaded the application, but as the company also accessed the data of users' friends about 63 thousand people in Portugal may have been affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, took responsibility for the incident, acknowledging that the social network has not done enough regarding the privacy of its users' data and promises to correct these flaws.

5. Browser Information

Whenever you access a website, your browser forwards a line of text that identifies the browser you are using and your operating system, and that information can also be used to generate targeted ads. For example, your browser tells you which site is using Safari on an iOS device, Chrome on Windows 10, and so on. Using this information, a site can determine if you want to tailor your ads to a mobile device or desktop.

Some of these practices may even be advantageous to the user and, depending on the point of view, are considered invasions of privacy or not. However, it is a fact that sites use our data without us often being aware that this is happening.

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