29 votes

How to make your internet browser safer and more private

Fellow DPers, I speant a good bit of time recently learning about how to make my browser as private as possible, and I wanted to share what I learned in a brief overview. Please give feedback here if anything I report is wrong, or if you have better ideas.

1. My choice for best browser for privacy: Firefox. It is open source, works on multiple platforms, has lots of extensions, and can be downloaded here: http://getfirefox.com

2. Install Ghostery add-on to block cookies: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/ghostery/

3. Install BetterPrivacy add-on to block flash cookies: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/betterprivacy/

4. Type "about:config" in the firefox address bar. Search for keyword "google". Double click on each entry that has the word google in it to edit the "value" string. Just delete the value string. By default, google "Safe Browsing" is enabled, this service will block potentially harmful sites, but it also sends address information to google and gives google the power to arbitrarily block access to sites.

5. Install Https everywhere: https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere This will make the browser automatically use an encrypted connection any time one is available.

6. Open Edit>Preferences. Click on Privacy. Under History, select "Use Custom Settings for History" Check the box to Clear History when Firefox closes. Under settings, you can choose what is deleted when firefox is shut down.

7. Open Edit>Preferences again. Click on Security. Uncheck the box that next to "Remember Passwords for Sites". Rather than having firefox remember your passwords, I recommend using another trusted password manager, such as: http://www.keepassx.org/

8. Install and use private search engines:

Startpage: https://startpage.com/eng/download-startpage-plugin.html
Ixquick: https://ixquick.com/eng/download-ixquick-plugin.html
DuckDuckGo: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/duckduckgo-ssl/

That is all I can think of now. Hope you find it helpful.

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I am happy to see there are

I am happy to see there are other GNU/Linux users on DP! Everyone who cares about liberty should be using Linux, or one of the *nix's. It's not always easy, you might not be able to do everything you're used to, and there's gonna be a learning curve (depending on the flavor of linux), but just remember, Freedom Isn't Free!

That said, I do run Windows still (dual-booting with Debian).

I've been using DuckDuckGo. I knew about Ixquick but not Start Page, which I learned is Ixquick using Google search but with privacy. Cool!

I like TOR browser.

I like TOR browser.

Thank you for such a great

Thank you for such a great post! I have done most of what you noted. I am not much of a geek so stuff that I don't understand kind of scares me.

I had trouble with:

4. Type "about:config" in the firefox address bar. Search for keyword "google". Double click on each entry that has the word google in it to edit the "value" string. Just delete the value string. By default, google "Safe Browsing" is enabled, this service will block potentially harmful sites, but it also sends address information to google and gives google the power to arbitrarily block access to sites.

because some screen popped up and said something about nullifying my warranty, so I only took a peek at the about config google list but I was too afraid to modify anything in it.

But I will say that my juno mail has NO adds for the first time in 15 or so years! No more looking at "ugly flab" or "available singles" or whatever else for that matter. Thanks!

Glad it works for you

As for the "about:config" business. I wouldn't worry about the warning. If you break something, it can be fixed by reinstalling. It is only a web browser after all.

The "about:config" editing is to remove Google safe browsing service. Every time you enter a web address, it is sent to Google even if you are not using a Google search engine. If the web address you enter is on Google's list of dangerous sites, you will be prevented from accessing it. Ostensibly this free service from Google to protect you from malicious web sites. I personally think the primary purpose of the safe browing service is to collect data, and it gives Google the power to block any site in the world from you. I also personally think the reasons the safe browsing service is enabled by default and buried in the bowels of the configuration files is (1) to hide it from the user, and (2) because Google has funded a lot of Firefox development.

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

-C. S. Lewis

Thank you

I appreciate your words about google and the encouragement about about:config. I may just bite the bullet today and dive in and delete those google value strings. You have handed courage my direction, and I appreciate it. Thanks! :)

Linux FTW

I agree, if someone is going to go to a real extent to try to secure their browser, they should be running linux hands down.

+

I don't use Firefox anymore, but I have used Ghostery for it: Wow. If you're "tracking" paranoid, Ghostery is a necessity. It's very surprising how many 'cookies' from so many "invisible" sites try to track you or glean some information from your browsing. Try it.

I use the EFF's https everywhere.

I use Startpage regularly, although recently I have been using straight google for a lot of things, especially when hammering away at NSA. I am sick of their illegal spying so I mostly don't care they're watching me while I'm in "destroy NSA mode." NSA is watching part of their demise in real time.

I have DuckDuckGo, but haven't really used it. See above re: startpage.

I would add NoScript as an

I would add NoScript as an add-on. It has kind of an annoying learning curve at first, but I think it's worth it.

Has DP considered connecting with https?

-

Free includes debt-free!

The Act of Privacy - Off the Grid


http://youtu.be/1IUhwvAIjK0

Ron Paul is My President

Meh, firefox users should dig deeper.

If you run windows, Then instead of FireFox, you should run PaleMoon, and use the migration tool. Your Palemoon install will run and feel exactly like your firefox install after that, except it actually runs better and the project fork is managed by people who get it when it comes to freedom and privacy. http://www.palemoon.org/ Also has 64-bit builds on the site, and they work great!

If you run linux, I would HOPE that you don't need any advise on running a browser. IceWeasel is what I mainly use, because it is 100% GNU compliant FireFox fork. Made for Debian, but will run on most distros perfectly.

OSX users are stuck with the basic FireFox add-ons for now. If you don't like FireFox but like how Safari or Chrome work, you have plugin options too, but I recommend you use SRWare Iron (this also goes for windows and linux users that like Chrome.)

just went to their homepage,

don't see any mention of a focus on freedom and privacy

Indirectly

While it is geared towards stability and performance(which browsers should be!!!)The biggest privacy features are stripping the WebRTC code by default.
All of the background services are also removed.

Palemoon is for speed and aesthetics

Palemoon really isn't modified to enhance privacy or security, it is for speed and aesthetics. If you want additional privacy, you'll need to add plugins.

NOTE: The latest version of Ghostery has issues with Firefox derivatives like Palemoon and Iceweasel. See: http://crunchbang.org/forums/viewtopic.php?id=28575

If privacy and security are your main concerns, I would recommend using Firefox and adding extensions as described above.

The Tor Bundle is good too, but only if you are surfing on the Tor network.

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

-C. S. Lewis

Jetpack

Aesthetics? Looks the same, same rendering engine.

As far as Jetpack add-ons, I'm glad neither support them. That has changed to "Add-on SDK" which is what Ghostery should be using.

Aesthetics

Here is what I mean: http://www.palemoon.org/layout-differences.shtml

I call it aesthetics. Palemoon developers call it element grouping for improved usability.

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

-C. S. Lewis

Check about:config in Iceweasel!!

I posted this little HOWTO from Iceweasel, although I wrote "Firefox" so people would know what in the heck I am talking about. If you are running Iceweasel, try typing "about:config" in your address bar and searching for the keyword Google. You will find Google safe browsing is there by default. The means Google checks to see if web addresses you try to access are "safe", and will block those that are unsafe. It also means that you are sending information to Google even if you do not use a Google search engine. I consider myself pretty technically competent. I have used linux for >10 years, and didn't know this until recently. Also, many people don't know about Flash cookies that are different than normal cookies. What I posted is not simply telling someone how to use a browser.

Lastly, Palemoon is better than Firefox in some respects, but anyone truly concerned about privacy should not be running Windows at all. Maybe I can write another short HOWTO on installing Debian for desktop use.

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

-C. S. Lewis

I'm the choir. Anyways, not

I'm the choir. :)

Anyways, not just in your prefs.js profile, you can strip the code you don't like and and compile yourself. <3 Gecko

I'll second this.

PaleMoon is basically a streamlined version of Firefox without all the backward compatibility bloat. For people with up-to-date operating systems it should be very stable.

Another alternative:

Download and use the
Tor Bundle.

Don't forget to have

Don't forget to have Microsoft Security Essentials and Maleware Bytes installed and updated. These two programs work well together to protect from viruses, spyware and malicious software. Let's hope these programs arent abused by the NSA... lol

thanks

for the information

bump

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