NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It seems like you can hardly visit a website today without one of those annoying pop-up ads.
Those ads are often collecting data on you, making them more than just a nuisance.
Our online web surfing and search habits are increasingly valuable to companies that want to use that information to target their sales efforts. Whatever you search for – from airline tickets to issues related to pregnancy – privacy experts say it's become too easy for companies to track your most personal details without telling you what data they are compiling.
Pop-up ads are one way in which companies collect data, like which websites you visit. As these ads continue to move to mobile devices, they can track your location, too.
Some of these ads also contain spyware that could give a hacker access to your computer.
In addition to pop-up ads, so-called "cookies" are collecting your personal data, as well. Cookies are small files attacked to your web browser, designed to make your web surfing more efficient. But they also track your online activities and ultimately build a profile of you, your interests and shopping preferences.
So what can you do to reduce the exposure of your data?
Install an ad blocker. Use adware removal software. Delete cookies regularly from your browsing history. If you have a Google account, tighten the privacy controls to limit the data the company collects on you.
As companies get more creative about ways to track you online, it pays to get smarter about what you can do to regain control of your data.
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