Links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.
6 personal things any website knows about you
The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links.
It’s an age of security concerns.
In a world where we live so much of our daily lives in the digital realm, our personal information is becoming troublingly vulnerable. At Google I/O this year, Google devs even identified security as their top point of concern in the months and years going forward.
Sure, you may know the best practices for staying safe online – avoiding suspicious sites, using solid anti-virus software – but are you aware of just how much any website can glean about you just from you navigating to them?
Here are just a few ways your information is being exposed through normal, everyday browsing.
Where you are
Google’s Geolocation API can be used by websites to get a pretty good idea of where you are. Depending on your location, this could be as vague as your current city or as accurate as your street address.
You’re actually a little bit more clandestine in this regard if you’re browsing on a mobile network. The error rate on mobile can be up to 50km, but websites can tell which direction your phone is oriented through the accelerometer. This can let them determine whether you’re holding your device or using it on a flat surface. Which brings us to the next thing websites know:
Pretty much all of it. What CPU you’re running, the exact make and model of your GPU, the resolution of your display. Everything. Websites even know what percent your battery is at and whether or not you are currently charging.
That last detail is particularly disconcerting for some, as it’s possible to use battery charge percentages to create a kind of fingerprint of a user that can be used to track their movements.
Most people know that when they visit a site, their browser lets the site know what operating system and browser they’re running. This actually helps content producers get a better feel for their audience and cater to them more specifically.
However, websites all see what plugins you have installed and whether you’re currently logged into accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and Google.
Head on over to whatsmyip.org and you’ll see what every website knows about you: your public IP address. However, websites are also privy to your local IP address, identifying which computer or mobile device you’re using on a given network.
Sites also know what service provider you’re using and approximately what kind of internet service you’re paying for, since they can calculate your download speed.
Where you’ve been
In addition to knowing whether you’re logged into your social media accounts, websites also get a glimpse into your browsing history. They know what site you visited just prior to arriving to theirs. If you’ve been snooping around some of the less reputable parts of the internet, then this might be of some concern to you. Especially since websites can also find out:
Exactly who you are
Clickjacking is a malicious technique by which websites can manipulate your behavior to do things that you may not have intended. You may click a perfectly legitimate looking link but, if you’re logged into Facebook, that hyperlink can cause you to unintentionally like a Facebook page without your knowledge or consent.
This can be used to determine your exact personal identity. Anything you’ve supplied Facebook: your name, your pictures, your occupation, your family members, your interests… everything is potentially at a malicious website’s fingertips.
How to protect yourself
Really, at this date, if you’re a serious internet user and you don’t have a virtual private network in place, you’re just asking for trouble. VPNs free you from the shackles of tracking and regional restrictions and let you protect your private information from Internet Service Providers and websites.
A quality VPN will have a large number of servers across the world as well as plenty of IPs to anonymize your browsing. However, this kind of infrastructure can be expensive, so good VPNs require monthly subscriptions.
If you’ve never used a VPN before, there’s a good opportunity right now to try one out for free. Or, if you are a VPN user and you’re not satisfied with what you’re paying for, this could be a better option.
The well-reviewed service VyprVPN is running a winter special that gives you the first 3 months free on any of their annual accounts. VyprVPN works on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS with over 70 global servers and 200,000 IPs. Their service has proven particularly popular in China, where restrictive laws prevent free internet surfing.
Stop letting the internet browse you! Click the button below to start protecting your personal information.