Few people are willing to discuss with their relatives, let alone strangers, the details of their online lives. You probably have many particulars you’d prefer to keep to yourself: what medications you take, what gifts you were looking at to buy for your family, what videos you watched before bed — the list goes on.
Alas, that information can become available to others, regardless of your wishes. We explain who can catch sight of your online activities, and how to make sure your secrets are safe.
More than a quarter (28%) of survey respondents said it was extremely important to keep their Web searches for pornographic material private.
1. Your family
You likely share a Wi-Fi network, and possibly even a computer, with your family. This means your partner, kids, or parents — anyone you share a home with — could discover traces of your online activities. Here is what could give you away.
- Browser history. The browser remembers the websites you visit and suggests them the next time you want to visit one of them. That generally comes in handy, but it can lead to some awkward moments if, say, your partner or your kid types in the letter P (for Pinterest), and gets a suggestion for P(ornhub).
- Targeted advertising. When you open a website, the browser saves cookie files on your computer, which let the site remember things about you (for example, your username, which pages you viewed, the contents of your shopping cart). They also, however, give the advertising networks that do business with the website’s owner — and other website owners — information about you, so they can suggest similar content. The giants of the Web, such as Google, will of course not show erotic banners. However, less-scrupulous advertising networks may.
It is best to go into incognito mode before watching private videos, so as to avoid embarrassment later. In fact, some browsers, such as Yandex.Browser, will suggest it if you open a porn site. Running in incognito mode, your browser stores no cookies and no search history. Your family will see none of those treacherous suggestions in the address bar.
As for the cookies and browser history you have already accumulated, clear them. Open the browser’s settings: In Chrome, for example, the option will be visible immediately, and in Firefox, you will need to go to the Privacy & Security tab.
Tip: Use incognito mode to avoid leaving browsing traces for your family to discover.
2. Internet giants
Cookies are not the only way to find out about your interests, so incognito mode will not hide information about your hobbies from big Internet corporations. Google will still remember what you searched for and what sites you opened in Chrome. Facebook will still learn about the things you like if you visit websites that are integrated with its analytics and advertising modules — and you would not believe how many of those are around.
Fortunately, not all companies want to collect all of the data they can about you. For example, Mozilla cares about privacy, so not only does Firefox not spy on you, but it also blocks others’ tracking tools. The search engines DuckDuckGo and Startpage.com do not store your search history. You can find more ways to keep your online life private in this post.
Tip: Privacy-centric browsers and search engines, along with the Private Browsing feature in Kaspersky products can help prevent tracking by advertising networks and Internet giants.
3. Your ISP
Few will pause to think that their ISP, as well as the owner of the free Wi-Fi they are using, can monitor their traffic. We suggest you put some safety measures in place, which is not nearly as hard as it may sound, unless you like the thought of your passions becoming some mischievous ISP employee’s source of entertainment.
Use a secure connection to dodge those whose curiosity gets the better of them. Doing so will encrypt your traffic so strongly that the ISP will see nothing but gibberish. More on VPNs in this post.
Tip: Use a secure connection to keep your interests from those who might be monitoring your Internet traffic.
4. Porn scammers
Scammers who e-mail you saying they have infected your computer with malware and used a Web camera to make a video of your naughty pleasures really have no idea if you have been watching porn or not. They are simply mass-mailing their threats in the hope that someone will bite. So, do not fret and do not pay anyone anything. If you receive an e-mail like that, send it straight to spam.
Tip: Never pay spammers who claim to have caught you watching adult content.
Remember safety measures
Although the creators of well-known porn websites protect their reputations, it is not impossible to get your device infected while searching for adult videos. From time to time, cybercriminals hack networks that display ads on such websites or attempt to pass off a fake.
The malware is unlikely to hack your webcam, but it may very well block your screen with an explicit picture or start displaying gobs of explicit ads in your browser. So, remember these safety measures.
- Choose websites you know. Avoid opening questionable websites from search results that promise premium content free.
- Download apps from official sources only.
- Do not click on links in ads, even if they are hard to resist.
- Use a robust protective solution. It will block a malicious program, should one attempt to infect your device.