CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Your web browser may be giving you away.
WBTV Cyber Expert Theresa Payton says when you visit a webpage, the browser that you use and the web server behind the webpage transfer information back and forth. It's almost as if they are saying hello to each other and chatting about the weather. It goes deeper than that, however, and there are a few things you need to know to protect yourself.
Even if you want websites to know this information, you want to make sure it isn't scooped up on unsecured wifi or taken during a data breach.
HOW IT WORKS:
1. The process is often called "Browser Fingerprinting" because the chat between your browser on your device and the web server uniquely identifies that browser to you
2. The server must know some information about you so that your web page looks good and works correctly
3. But many web browsers don't ask "why" the questions are asked about you, they just answer and assume it's a good guy web server
Your browser may tell over 100 things about you to a web server without your knowledge.
Here is a short list of a few things it may say:
Browser:Your browser choice (Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc.)
Cookies: The cookies you might have stored on your device
Device Type: Phone, table or computer; Apple or Mac or Droid; current operating system; characteristics about the device and the manufacturer
Time Zone Settings: Are you set to Eastern Standard Time or something else?
Do Not Track: It will tell if your flag for "do not track" is turned on
Email Address tied to the device or the browser
Device ID: This is the unique ID for your device
Language Preference: the languages (eg., English, Spanish, French) you display on your device
THE ABC'S TO BETTER PROTECT YOUR INFORMATION:
1. ALERTS: sign up for alerts on emerging security and privacy issues for your specific browser
2. BROWSER SETTINGS: Review every option for various privacy and security settings
3. CAUTION: Before you just say yes to plug ins and extensions, be cautious. And take some time to add in the security plug-ins that are available, for free.
• HTTPS Everywhere helps you to encrypt communication with many major websites to help secure your browsing experience.
• Web of Trust (also known as WOT). This is a great add in that alerts you and your loved ones whether or not a website is safe to surf. Using a traffic light protocol (red=stop/don't click; yellow=caution; green=go/safe), you will have a better idea of where it's safe to go on the web.
• LongURL.org. Wondering if you should click on the short link on Twitter, Facebook or other social sites? Now you can check it out first at this site.
Kismet is a network detector or sniffer app. If you put it on a device and go around town, you can detect networks and traffic that you might not otherwise know exists.