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Last time, I told you that I’m a bit lost when it comes to identifying where I’m sharing some parts of my identity online. This question is hammering my head and, although I know there’s not a straightforward answer, I can’t help but direct my online wanderings to topics that may bring me some pieces of answers. Learn how to check browsing traces.

Check Browsing Traces

I know, it’s kind of “waste of time” since this social media invasion has got us sharing a lot about ourselves, especially about what we’re doing and what are our whereabouts and likes (as well as dislikes).

For my own’s consolation, I just feel proud I haven’t surrendered to those check-in services (Foursquare and Facebook places) as I think those are the ultimate “tracking” tool that people voluntarily update – as if they had to shout out to everybody where they are – including the burglar standing at the corner who’s just waiting for you to update that you are miles away from your home. (Full disclosure: I have an account on Foursquare, but I just don’t check-in, I leave tips hours or days later after I’ve been to a place – aaargh when the social media addiction got you).

How visible are you on the Internet?

So I searched the internet on “check browsing traces” and I found this helpful tool called stay invisible [sorry, no longer available]: that tool checks obvious, as well as not-so-obvious information that you “reveal” to the internet based on your current internet connection as well as the cookies that your browser keeps.

Astonishing results

The tool is pretty straightforward to use: you go to the website, then it immediately starts gathering information about your connection and browser. Oh gosh, that browser, it keeps old things you wish no one ever knew. To get astonishing results, the tool is best used when you haven’t yet cleared your browser’s private information, nor have you used the tips I left for leaving no trace when browsing the internet.

So let’s start with the “not-shocking” facts: the tool detects exactly the browser and all that comes with it: version, plugins … How can that be “dangerous,” you may be asking. Well, if a hacker knows exactly what your browser is, they also know what the security breaches that come along with it are. Have you ever wondered why some trojan sites are faking popular websites? That’s because they want you to go to the fake site, once you are there, they know a lot about you.

But apart from that, this site shows a paragraph called “location and language.” I must say it’s doing a good job identifying where I’m located (at least the country). Ok, most websites now can know where their visitors come from. But anyway, for those who aren’t aware, keep this in mind: websites you visit to understand where you are physically based – or at least they have a rough idea about it.

Then comes the technical part: the zombie cookie part that is too technical for most users. I have to admit I refuse to try to understand how those cookies can be harmful. All that I know is that the website I just visited can put some cookies on my browsers and that some of those cookies can act like zombie cookies that can’t be deleted: meaning that those cookies can act like your DNA … This isn’t good, not good at all …

So after checking that website, I don’t feel confident at all on the way the information about me is shared by my browser. Heck, there are ways to delete the cookies from any browser, but having discovered that some are hard to remove is… insane.

Do you have any tools that can help identify how we are tracked on the internet?

How do you check browsing traces? Feel free to share and discuss them in the comment section.