You might be surprised to learn that your browser history can be used against you in certain circumstances. Your browsing history details sensitive information, including your interests, bank account details, travel plans, and location. As a result, law enforcement officers, cybercriminals, and other unauthorized users can invade your privacy or security by accessing such information and using it to hurt you.
This article outlines four ways in which your browser history can be used against you and offers tips on protecting yourself from the dangers it poses.
How Your Browser History Can Be Used Against You?
1. Criminalizing You
Your browser history can give away what sites you have accessed by typing the addresses directly into the browser or clicking on a link from somewhere else. It can be used against you if law enforcement officers suspect you of criminal activity.
If a law enforcement officer were to raid your house, they could seize any electronic devices and look through your browsing history if applicable. If it looks like you were searching for information or details relevant to the crime they suspect you of, this could be used to criminalize you.
Even if you are innocent, law enforcement officers will not only see what you were doing on the browser at the time of your arrest, but they will also read through your entire browsing history. What if you were browsing information you would feel embarrassed about if shared in public?
3. Exposing You to Cybercriminals
If you are a frequent user of a website and the website has been hacked, your browsing history could reveal how often you visit that particular website. Attackers could use such information to expose you to malicious software or phishing scams. Someone can also try to steal and use your identity if they know the details of your browsing.
4. Targeted Advertisements
Your browsing history can be used to identify you as it contains information about your interests and preferences. For example, your browsing history shows you have researched a particular product or service. This information could be used against you to further target you with advertising for the products or services you are already interested in.
How to Protect Yourself
Below are the three best ways to protect yourself from the dangers of your browser history:
1. Clear or reset your browser history
The best way to protect yourself is to delete any browsing history stored on your computer. This move effectively removes the browsing history for all websites and apps you have accessed so that it is like you never accessed them. You may also need to clear the temporary internet files stored in the browser to delete browser history fully.
2. Use Private Browsing Mode (Incognito Window)
Another good way of protecting yourself is to use private browsing mode in your internet browser. Private browsing mode prevents the websites you visit from recording your browsing history. These types of records include cookies and website preferences. However, this option may not be effective.
Private browsing mode also prevents your internet browser from saving temporary internet files and allows you to browse the internet without retaining any information about where you went or what you did.
3. Use a VPN to Encrypt Your Data
Most internet service providers (ISPs) offer free or paid VPNs so that you can browse the web safely and securely. A VPN encrypts all your data to prevent anyone from accessing your sensitive data. They also provide you with an encrypted server in another country which means that no one will be able to track your internet traffic or use it against you.
The Bottom Line
Your browser history can be used against you in various ways. For example, browsing history can be used to criminalize you and even expose you to cyber criminals. Advertisements can also be used to identify you and use your likes against you.
Make sure you clear your browsing history regularly and use a VPN to encrypt your data. You can also make use of private browsing mode in the browser. Browse safely and ensure no one has access to your sensitive information!