Lightbeam is a add-on that can be installed for the web browser Firefox, that allows users to view which third-party sites they may unknowingly be interacting with while surfing the web.
After personally using Firefox to visit 9 different websites, Lightbeam informed me that I connected with an alarming 68 third party sites during the 30 minutes I was browsing. I started on Google to search the best prices available for a trip I am planning for the summer. This led me to visit Expedia and Airbnb for information on flights and accommodations. I then logged on to Facebook to message a friend who I intend on visiting while I am there. I got a little sidetracked with new posts I saw on my newsfeed and without thinking, I ended up clicking on various links my other friends have posted. This took me outside of Facebook which made me susceptible to even more cookies.
Cookies are embedded codes on websites that record the content you look at as well as the duration of your stay on a webpage. Third-party tracking cookies aggregate data so that they can target you with specific advertisements. However, not all cookies work against you. First-party authentication cookies are what allow you to move from a webpage to the next while remaining logged on to your personal account.
Lightbeam is a great tool that graphically puts into perspective the amount of privacy we have while browsing the web. As users, we should always be conscious and aware of the third-party activity we are in most cases unknowingly consenting to. This, however should not deter us from openly using the internet. It is a judgement call that is up for debate but most of us recognize that the benefits of the internet outweigh these cons. The convenience and ease of the web has become so highly integrated into both our work and personal lives. Awareness is the key to overcoming this issue of security and there are several ways of protecting yourself. Avoid using Internet Explorer as your browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari are examples less susceptible to viruses). Never open emails from unknown senders, use passphrases for your passwords and use anitvirus on your computer.
McAfee is an example of an antivirus software. They have provided their own online safety tips. Be sure to check it out in the link provided below: