Warnings about online security breaches leading to identity theft are often based on worst-case scenarios of scams or viruses, but it’s important to be aware that commonplace online activity can also contribute to the erosion of privacy. Most people’s social media conversations, browser histories and search-engine activities are constantly contributing to virtual profiles that identify them as prime targets for automated communications, usually in the form of targeted advertising and news feeds.
For example, if you show particular interest in specific subjects, products or services, you are certain to be exposed to more of the same, curated through an algorithmic detection of your usage. Fortunately, you can defend against being a target of constant “click-bait” by deleting your internet history on a frequent basis. You can also regularly remove or block website “cookies” that your computer automatically collects and saves to create shortcuts for faster connections when you revisit sites. These “cookies” also collect data about you that is used by online advertisers and curators of content. Furthermore, you can download an advertising blocker that interrupts ads targeted at you.