8 Out of 10 Websites Are Leaking User Searches to Advertisers: How to Protect Your Privacy Online 

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In a world of growing cybersecurity concerns, privacy for both organizations and individuals has become a valuable commodity. We talk a lot on our blog about protecting your business. Still, it’s also essential to consider personal privacy and how the individual privacy of employees can affect your overall organization. Let’s look at how browser security relates to individual privacy online. 

A recent report by Norton Labs found that over 80% of the top websites leak user searches to advertisers. Websites feature a search bar that will leak their visitor’s search terms to online advertisers like Google.  

How does it work?  

This breaching strategy leaks users’ sensitive information to an extensive network of third parties, who can then use the data to create targeted advertisements based on your online behavior and preferences.  

Is this illegal?  

Believe it or not, many websites will declare this policy in their website user policy. But let’s be honest, when was the last time you read one of those? Most website visitors don’t read these policies or even know they exist, so they unknowingly take part. This practice is not technically illegal but something to be aware of if you value your online privacy. 

What Users Can Do to Protect Their Online Privacy  

Other than becoming accustomed to reading website user policies (because who has time for that), there is not much you can do to prevent websites from leaking your search data to advertisers.  

You do have the option to set your browser to block all third-party trackers from loading on the websites they visit. You can, however, practice general security hygiene.  

Practice Good IT Security Hygiene: This includes:  

  • Avoid shared passwords (learn why this is dangerous here). 
  • Use secure networks when accessing sensitive information. 
  • Avoid common cybersecurity mistakes (learn what these are here).  

At Clarity Technology Group, we believe that IT security is all-encompassing. It starts at the employee level. Educating and empowering your employees to be advocates for privacy and security will help strengthen the cybersecurity landscape of your organization. If you are looking for a company to support your cybersecurity efforts, Clarity Technology Group can help. Get in touch with one of our IT experts here.