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How to Find Out Who's Watching Your Online Activity



Who is watching you?

The answer is also a new term to include in your Web vocabulary: Web Bugs. No, these aren't viruses and they aren't even malicious. Companies do use them, though, to track your online activity so that they can serve up ads that more effectively target you as a user and as a consumer.

Ghostery is a Web plug-in that alerts you whenever a Web Bug is monitoring your online activity. A Web Bug is slightly different from a cookie, which -- as many of our readers know -- is also a bit of information that Web sites use to track you as a user. Cookies are the small pieces of code that help a Web site remember who you are. For example, if you sign into sites such as Delta.com to check your Frequent Flyer account, or if you sign in to Amazon.com and check the box that allows the site to remember your login information, a cookie is placed on your computer.

With a Web Bug, a little bit more of your information is gathered. While this may not bother you (for most of us, it isn't a big deal), Ghostery alerts you whenever a Web Bug is running in the background. Unlike a cookie, the Web Bug is often a small or invisible image placed on the site, so unless you knew where to look, or you have a plug-in like Ghostery, you wouldn't know you were being monitored.

We installed Ghostery on our browser, and so far the alerts seem to come up when we would expect them. We noted that FedEx.com has a Web Bug running and that, as we go through other sites, the little Ghostery icon changed colors to alert us.

Do you really need Ghostery? Call us jaded, but we already assume that we're being tracked, monitored and manipulated anytime we go online. Did Ghostery activate when we cruised around Switched.com? The answer is no yes.

Monitor those who monitor you. [Source: DownloadSquad.com]

Tags: cookies, featured, features, internet privacy, InternetPrivacy, monitoring, plug-in, privacy, techtips, tracking, web bug, WebBug

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