Third-party advertisements are ads hosted on regular content websites by another provider. This helps the host website to collect revenue and helps businesses to deliver advertisements to their chosen target market. In reality, there are actually four parties involved – the content website, the user, the advertisement site itself, and the advertisement host server. Many companies advertising don’t have the resources to host themselves, additionally the content websites will rarely purchase ads directly from the companies themselves. Keep reading to learn if these ads are safe or not. Targeted advertising goes deeper than simply being the regular consumer of the brand. These providers collect personal data to cater and only display products that interest you personally.
They are also notorious for data-breaches – as we’ve seen with various companies, third-party providers are high payout hits for hackers. It’s like shopping in bulk – they can hack one server and gain access to thousands of users data.
How do they work?
- Cookies and click tracking – these track the users online activity, eventually learning the users location, age, marital status, and other “basic” data. This helps advertising hosts to provide more location specific ads, as well as test for new ads that may appeal to your general brackets of interest.
- Microphones – many websites and applications are using a setting that turns your microphone on while your browsing. Ever wonder how all of a sudden you’re seeing advertisements online about the exact conversation you just had with a colleague?
- Personal data from profiles – the easiest way to target advertising these days is through social media. Often we think the information we share on social media is only visible to our friends and family, but remember it is still the internet and the site hosting your data has access to it as well. From likes and shares, to photos, birthdays, and locations; your personal information is on there forever.
How to protect your data:
- Always read privacy agreements – most sites are required to display a disclosure somewhere within their privacy agreements. Check it out, you don’t have to agree or you can see what adjustments you can make to the information you’re sharing within the site.
- Clear your browser – since cookies collect over time on your browser, gaining more and more information, be sure to reset your browser regularly. Click here to learn how.
- Understand the difference between malicious pop-ups and real advertisements – it’s very tempting to follow an interesting advertisement to learn more. Make sure you are paying attention to where you’re clicking – often pop-ups masquerade as real ads, but in reality are using social engineering to lead you to a malicious website.
- Use an adblocker – This will not only protect you from pop ups, but also limit the number of cookies attaching themselves to your browser. Click here to download the right adblocker for you.
- Change settings within your device – check out which apps are using what types of functions from your smartphone or computer. Are these connected? Is your microphone and camera connected to these apps? Turn off your microphone and cameras within certain applications and websites to avoid further advertisement targeting.
- Run a FixMeStick Scan – if you think your data may have been breached in a malicious way, run a FixMeStick scan to ensure your device is malware-free and secure!