Verizon began using their supercookies, better known as unique identifier token headers (UIDHs) back in 2012. These identifiers are unique to every user, and are used on every website visit made via the Verizon cellular data network. This allows website owners to create profiles of users, which in turn allows advertisers on those sites to create targeted ads according to the data collected. For example, if you have visited a number of cooking websites, advertisers can make sure that you see ads for cookware, plates, bowls and general kitchen equipment. It makes their advertising more effective and therefore is worth a lot of money to them.
You might have noticed this before; if you searched for a bike frame, for example, you might see a similar product miraculously appear the next day in an ad on a site you visit often.
Now, code is appearing online that allows anyone to use these UIDHs without paying Verizon for the privilege, meaning that almost anyone can get their hands on information about users. UIDHs bypass anti-tracking measures in iOS and Android as they are not technically cookies, and so aren’t caught in the same net.
This is incredibly worrying from a privacy standpoint. But what can we do about it?
Well, according to the EFF, VPNs are the answer.
A VPN like SurfEasy encrypts all the data that flows between you and the internet, hiding your IP address and making it so that websites cannot track you – and neither can UIDHs. This means that Verizon cannot tag you, advertisers cannot exploit your information and you are kept safe online.
Keep companies like Verizon out of your online business today; get registered at surfeasy.com/register.