What’s Hidden in Your Browser History Could Hurt You. Here’s Why

What’s Hidden in Your Browser History?

There is one thing we usually don’t pay attention to while we surf the Web. What is it? The content that is hidden in our browser history. We usually don’t pay attention to this because all we care about is that our Web experience is the best it can be, but haven’t you, at least, wondered what it contains?

In your browser history, you are going to find information such as:

  • Browsing & Download  History
  • Form & Search Bar History – What you have looked for in Firefox’s search bar and the information you have entered into the forms of the sites you have visited.
  • Cookies
  • Site Preferences – These are the preferences that you have saved on a site such as zoom levels, site permissions, and character encoding.
  • Cache
  • Active logins – Sites that you have logged into that you have asked to remember that you are logged in.
  • Offline Website Data – This is the data that allows you to use a website even when you’re offline (only if you have given authorization).

If you have a computer where you are the only user, then you might not be too interested in erasing your browsing history since you are the only one that has access to the computer. But, what if you have used a public computer or one that you share with others? In that case erasing your browsing history would be a good idea because your information could fall into the wrong hands.

What You’re Revealing by Not Clearing Your Browsing History

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You might be thinking, “What harm can someone do to me by having my browsing history?” They might not have access to information such as your social security number, but they could have access to information such as your Email, your full name, your address, your birth date and more. How is this possible? If you re-read the things that are in your browsing history, you will see “Form & Search Bar History.” This contains information you have entered into forms while you were surfing the Web such as your address, Email, etc.

When I re-visited a site and clicked on Email, it automatically showed the Email I had previously used to access that site. If that happened to me on my computer, it could happen to you when you use someone else’s computer.

If someone were trying to get a hold of sensitive information, they would only have to type in the first few letters (anyone can guess) of the entry, and then Firefox would show a drop-down menu with what that person typed into the form previously. They only need to press the down arrow key when the field is empty.

How Your Information Could Be Used

Browser_info_hacker

The problem with revealing this kind of information is that you can fall victim to identity theft. You enter your birth date on site A, and then you reveal your mother’s maiden name on site B, and finally you enter your address on site C. By leaving these bits and pieces of information on different sites and in your browsing history, they can be used to hack things by guessing your password because you’re leaving a trail.

If this information falls into the wrong hands, your privacy could be seriously compromised. By not clearing your browsing history, you saved them lots of time trying to figure out what bank you are associated with. Maybe before they had no intention of hacking your bank account, but since they know where you bank, why not?

How to Protect Yourself

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You can avoid leaving this information online by browsing the Web anonymously. For starters, you can use a private browser window. The advantages of using a private browsing session is that third-party cookies (these are the culprits that track your movement between the different sites you visit) are blocked, and first-party cookies are erased when you’re done, so when the next person uses the computer, they will have no way of knowing what you were doing or seeing what your Email is just by clicking on the Email box. The solution is as easy as using incognito mode.

You can also protect yourself by blocking or deleting third-party cookies. This can stop certain types of tracking, but not all. Using software’s such as CCleaner can help clear regular cookies and Flash.

Conclusion

We are always trying to find ways to protect ourselves, but unfortunately dishonest people are also trying to find ways to get past our protections. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying to keep our information safe. Do you regularly delete your browsing history? Let us know in the comments.

9 comments

  1. Thanks for this …. good information to share with non-tecchei friends1

  2. No I don’t but should more . Thank You for the info. Can use all the help at any time. I need to learn as much as possible. Deleting doesn’t clear the item. C.Clearner on computer now.. Just the free version..

  3. There are many free utilities on line you can download to protect and maintain your system. Order online and they can be installed in minutes.
    I have (in order of preference)
    AVG Pro (paid for this) protects Laptop, Tablet & Mum’s laptop
    Glary Utilties (paid for this)
    WinUtilities (paid for this)
    Malwarebytes free
    CCleaner free
    Privazer free

    I run one of these at least once a week (scheduled when I’m down the pub) and can check my Mum’s laptop remotely using AVG. I also order the CD where possible as I can clean up laptops etc that belong to family members.
    Apart from cleaning out cookies and temp files etc, it maintains my system by checking and “defrag” ing the Registry and can improve performance. I would recommend buying at least one utility. Perhaps start with Glary Utilities; I have used it for a few years without any problems ;annual subscription is not too bad at around say £20. Simple to do and SO worth it.

  4. CCleaner, GlaryUtilities and other utilities only help to clean your browser history after the fact. While you are surfing the ‘Net, your browser history is an open book to anybody who wants to look. To prevent that you need plug-ins such as Blur, Privacy Badger and Ghostery (for Firefox and Chrome) that block most, if not all trackers as you are surfing..

  5. No I don’t normally delete my cookies but I DO run “BleachBit” EVERY third week!……this keeps my system clean from cruft and junk and erases all cookies..previously visited links cached html files…..jpgs…etc…etc. In this day and age you can never be too careful. And while its “easy’ to say “…well it hasn’t happened to me by now so it probably wont…” the true fact is…..eventually it WILL because of the amount of attacs that are out there…and the people who do NOTHING but devise ways to get acces to what they shouldn’t the odds are against you. I KNOW…..IT HAPPENED TO ME! Imagine not noticing the miniscule withdrawals from your “hardly used” savings account. In amounts of $15.00 here….or $20.00 there…….now every yar I do a balancing of the books…if you will to just make sure I’m meeting my financial goals. imagine my surprise when it was discovered that I was “missing” $547.13 from my account!!! Turns out someone had gained access to my ONLINE banking links and sites and effectively figured out a way to get it. Needless to say, I’ve ceased to go online to my bank….at least from any computers running any version of Windows. I now use Linux and browse to my bank’s site a bit safer. Just know that it CAN happen to you…and most likely WILL unless you take action TODAY! Follow all the advice in this article and be vigilant…don’t slack of…someone….somewhere is HOPING you get tired of begin the security guard for your information.

  6. The tools Steve mention do basically all the same thing. Especially Glary Utilties, WinUtilities, and ccleaner. Cleaning you hard drive 3 times over erasing the same stuff doesn’t make you saver. It only shortens the livetime of you Solid State disk drastically.
    Dragonmouths list is surely a good one to start with the prevent shit from coming in and prevent your identity to be stolen
    First of all I should set the browser to delete all history on close. Do not save any passwords and so on. If it’s not there they can’t steal it.

  7. Add “-incognito” at the end of the link to open the browser and it will open incognito every time.

  8. Hi Jim,
    Thanks for the tip. Very useful. =-)

  9. Hi Vinny,
    I agree, whenever Chrome asks me to save a password I always say never.=-)

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