Are There Tracking Devices in Computers?


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.


  • Cookies are a simple form of tracking, storing information about your preferences and browsing habits as you navigate individual websites and the Web at large. Ad agencies use cookies to track your Web browsing habits. That cookie tracks the sites you visit and builds a database of your browsing history. The ads the agency serves to the websites you visit are targeted based on the data the cookie collects.

IP Addresses

  • Each Internet-connected computer is given an numerical address (i.e., 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.


  • Being cautious when online prevents you from being tracked. All browsers have the capability to turn off the use of cookies within the applications settings (although some sites may work improperly as a result). If you wish to conceal your IP address, consider the use of a proxy. Finally, the best defense against spyware is downloading and installing anti-virus software. Ensure the software is up to date to stay ahead of the latest threats.

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