To build a profile of you, advertisers can gather a multitude of information. They can follow you around the web using a tracking code, browser fingerprinting, store cookies on your machine, or even buy your credit card data.
But advertisers can also follow your physical location: Bluetooth beacons around cities and malls can track your movements, and Google can use your IP address to locate you—even when you’re not sharing your location. To stop advertisers from tracking you, let’s explore how they know where you are.
The most trivial way for an advertiser to learn your location is for your device to tell them. This can be done in various ways, either through the device itself, your browser, or apps. Many applications are found to contain third-party code that collect location data, which is later sold to advertisers and even the military.
iOS and Android have some built-in protections against this data being made available to all apps, but users are often too permissive in giving approval.
Protect yourself: Make sure that your device’s operating system, apps, and browser have all location sharing features turned off.
You may regularly check your permissions and remove location sharing for apps that you do not use, or which you believe do not require location sharing.
Bluetooth beacons are watching you
These small physical devices are hidden in supermarket shelves, advertising posters, and malls. They continuously broadcast a signal that some of your phone’s apps can pick up. Similar to a cookie on the web, the beacons tell your app that you have visited a place or walked past an advertisement.
This information allows the advertisers to track your movements, as well as which ads or products you have seen or inspected. Beacons are primarily used to measure the effectiveness of marketing techniques and serve you more targeted ads.
Protect yourself: Turn off bluetooth and avoid applications known to engage in this behavior, such as Facebook.
IP addresses give up your location
IP addresses can geo-locate your position and serve you ads. To determine your physical location, advertisers such as Google rely on a small portion of the population sharing their device’s GPS location. The devices will then associate this location with the IP address of your network, such as the coffee shop or office you are currently in.
This makes it possible to know the location of all subsequent users of the same network. Even if they carefully avoid sharing their location. It only takes one negligent visitor to associate your home IP with your physical location, then all sites you visit in the future will know where you reside.
Protect yourself: Always keep your VPN turned on, and route highly sensitive data through Tor. Use an iOS VPN app to hide your IP address.
The SSID is the public identifier of any Wi-Fi network. You can choose not to broadcast the SSID of your network to prevent it from being added to these databases.
Mobile towers can triangulate your location
As you move around, your device is always connected to two or more cell phone towers, so your cell phone provider can always calculate your location. This information can then be sold to advertisers, as major providers have done in the past.
Protect yourself: Put your phone in airplane mode, wrap your phone in aluminum foil, or, if possible, remove the battery.
Exercise caution, wherever you are
Simply turning location features off is not enough. Be mindful of exposing your IP address, picking up the signal of Bluetooth beacons or ISPs that sell your location data.
Mask your IP address with a VPN
30-day money-back guarantee
“Protect yourself: Put your phone in airplane mode, wrap your phone in aluminum foil, or, if possible, remove the battery.” ROTFL 😀
As a leftover from a remote past when ‘privacy’ still used to have a meaning, I normally opt for leaving my smartphone at home unless I need to be traceable or specifically plan to use it.
Shielding it or keeping it in airplane mode would be tantamount to carrying around a useless piece of crap slightly too bulky to fit in a normal pocket.
Removing the battery would require (at least) the right tools, half an hour and an affiliation to iFixit.
C’mon Lexie, get real! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Fall down and break your leg or worse one day while out hiking and you may wish that you could be located by these methods. There’s too much paranoia out there. I assume most of these comments are from the US where conspiracy theories abound. I actually regularly update my Google Timeline for accuracy as I have nothing to hide as to where I’ve been.
Why do you suggest routing highly sensitive data via tor, isn’t using ExpressVPN enough? Surprised by this
It’s actually nice to see a company warn you of such things. It shows they care about their customers privacy. That is the kind of company I most definitely don’t mind spending my money on their product, which by the way is a solid software and has worked very well.
What?? If I remove the battery, how will I use my phone? That’s as helpful as saying “if you don’t want to get tracked, throw your phone away, and don’t get another one.” This would surely be effective, no doubt.
David, I am sorry but I have to say… Your comment and your picture match.
Nick… you couldn’t be more right!!!
Why on earth do you have to attack the bloke for making a comment? “Ok boomer” dig for what purpose?
I’m with you on this one David. Wrap your phone in aluminium foil?!?! Maybe we should also make aluminium hats to wear when we’re out and about 🤣
You laugh now….😏
Yes, David, you got it. BUT what you may not have realized yet is that Express, thank-you very much, is doing everything they can to get you to be more AWARE. They cannot save you from the madness of the modern world, but they sure knock themselves out to help us live more safely in it. BTW, David, you might explore mesh networks: they’re private rogue networks running outside (meaning off: apart from) the internet. They’re use is generally local but they can connect to any internet site. These may be the future of communications as Democracy is increasingly attacked by the know-nothings fueled only by their own anger thirsting for the reins of power (fascists). You may bow and thank Express now. They’re your friend (and no, I don’t work for them…don’t know anyone who does either).
Well said Jay!
in an extreme sense, yes. but with just a slight bit of creativity it is simple to circumvent these processes knowing this information up front.. the problem (and solution) is most people are too lazy to be creative and vigilant.
Does EXPRESS VPN protect you against this
ExpressVPN does protect against IP addresses giving up your location (the third point in the article) by giving you a different IP address when you’re connected to the VPN.
But trying to hide your REAL IP Adress is only just One (small part of what’s actually required) to keep Technology Companies from “Tracking an individual.” The Person that actually “wrote this article” has Absolutely clueless & has Terrible “knowledge” about how a person can keep BIG TECH & The GOVERNMENTS of the WORLD from Tracking your EVERY MOVE!
You didn’t even discuss that the device’s Sensors monitor you through your device and through (specific tones that can Echo “Locate Any Device.”) There are even MORE Ways then what You or I have said here.
But this is all that I am willing say here, especially since you got 💵 PAID 💵 to write this horribly Researched & Written Article. This Writer doesn’t seem by this article to even know much at all about IT Security.
I’ve been doing Computer Programming and Computer Security for 25+ Years now. This article’s Writer seems to get their information from Wikipedia & of course Search Engines such as Bing & Google, Yahoo Etc. Etcetera. This is one of the Worst written Security Articles I’ve read in a very long time. EXPRESS VPN really needs somebody that actually KNOWS about Computer Security to be writing ANY Articles in the FUTURE for Express VPN Service. Because this writer is a 🤡 and is definitely NOT a “Security Expert” at all period.
I am sick to death of google amazon Microsoft apple following me around. Its none of their business where I am going too. I am obeying all relevant laws. I was a communication expert in the forces. May I suggest you get a pine phone 64. No trackers , freedom, the phone still needs work but I have confidence the Linux community will fix it soon. Plus this Linux phone only cost $200.
had no idea about the bluetooth tracking wow.
those flashing lights on the ends of isles pick up and track products and displays you look at and time you spend at each display. they track you throughout the store to the checkout. once you pay for your goods, any products you looked at but did not buy, they send coupons to your phone before you even leave the store. it happens to me every day. we are prisoners.
Here’s the Reality. The populations are now too large for the respective governments to effectively control, or even manage well enough for workable compliance, and exploitations, especially in the few still ‘free’ countries like the U.S., by just relying on people’s own respect for laws or obedience. This NK or CCP style surveillance must be implemented omnipotently. So they can eventually sancetion all freedom of choice. The Constitution used to guarantee that wouldn’t happen. But it is currently usurped and just about to become virtually cancelled. We ALL have to come together and stop this insanity before it is totally too late.
What about using GPS in the car? Does it work with VPN shields up?
I can only imagine the future 😰
My apartment has only one option for an internet company
Can you move to another apartment?