Physical tracking devices do not exist in modern computers, however, this doesn't mean other methods don't exist to track your online activities. Cookies gather information about your browsing habits, and your IP address can disclose your physical location. Getting online without anti-virus protection is also a risk: spyware could be logging your every keystroke.
Each Internet-connected computer is given an numerical address (i.e. 184.108.40.206), known as an IP. This address tells other Internet-connected computers where to send data. While it is not specific, IP addresses also give clues as to your approximate physical location due to the geographically specific nature in how they are issued. Researchers at Northwestern University took this a step further: in 2011, they developed a system that allowed a user to be located by his or her IP to within a half-mile of their physical location.
A spyware-infected computer allows attackers to track your computer usage habits. Some track the websites you visit in order to serve you advertising, much like cookies do. Other spyware tracks your every keystroke, not only disclosing your location but payment information such as credit card numbers. Certain other spyware hijacks your browser, redirecting your browsing requests to sites similar to the one you intended to visit, often for malicious purposes.
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images