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How to prevent devices from tracking your activity

It is quite clear that our activities are tracked by more devices than ever before. Just think at the amount of information that your fitness tracker has collected about you, for example. But have you ever thought that your business laptop may be storing and sending confidential information about you and your company as well? Here's what you can do to put an end to that.

By default, most business computers utilize the Windows operating system. So, it is wise to read Microsoft's data privacy policy and understand the type of data that the software maker collects about you. Here's a link to their privacy policy. According to that document, Microsoft focuses on six key privacy principles: control, transparency, strong legal protection, security, no content-based targeting and user benefit.

Fortunately, Microsoft has made it quite easy to disable any unwanted tracking applications. To do that, open Windows' "Settings" menu, and then locate the "Privacy" entry.

As you can see, you can choose to disable your tracking ID for good. This way, advertisers won't be able to serve you "relevant" ads. This is probably the most important setting that should be disabled.

You can use the same "Settings" section to give or revoke each application the permission to use your precise location, your laptop's camera, its microphone, notifications, account information, contact list, calendar, call history, email, tasks, messaging, radios, and so on.

Cortana, the voice-activated assistant that is bundled with Windows, will collect and send data to Microsoft's servers as well. So, it is best to disable it by setting the "Hey Cortana" toggle button to "Off".

It's not all about the OS that you are using, though. Some applications will send various bits of information to their makers without you knowing anything about it. So, make sure that each application that you are using comes from legit, trusted sources. Don't forget to uninstall all the apps that aren't used anymore.

Your browser is a gold mine for advertisers as well. As you visit various websites, their owners use the browser to store a custom cookie on your computer, which can then be utilized to track your activities all over the web. Still, there are several steps that you can take to prevent that from happening.

First, you can use a virtual private network to increase your level of anonymity. Or, you could use an ad blocker to prevent advertisers from showing you those annoying ads and storing cookies on your computer. Finally, you can delete all those tracking cookies using malware removal tools such as SuperAntispyware.