Your web browser leaks information that can be used to track your browsing habits and identify you.

Private browsing can mean some loss of convenience, but there are precautions anyone can take to minimize leaks when browsing the web.

Private Browsing Recommendations

All major web browsers leak information that can be used to identify you. If you are serious about private browsing visit the Tor Project and download Tor Browser. At this time there is no more private option.

Private Browsing

If you need to use any of the common browsers like Chrome, IE, or Firefox there are precautions you can take by modifying the browsers for private browsing. Some precautions just require switches within the browser. Others are add on extensions that help protect your privacy.

Disable Third Party Cookies

There is never a need to allow third party cookies. Go into your browser options and disable third party cookies right now.

  1. Firefox: Preferences > Privacy > Accept third-party cookies > Never
  2. Chrome: Settings > Show advanced settings > Content settings > Block third-party cookies and site data
  3. Internet Explorer: Tools > Internet Options > Privacy > Advanced > check “override automatic cookie handling” and “block third party cookies”

Next Always Clear Cookies On Browser Exit

  1. Firefox: Preferences > Privacy > Keep until > I close Firefox
  2. Chrome: Settings > Show advanced settings > Content settings > Keep local data only until you quit your browser
  3. Internet Explorer: Tools > Internet Options > General > check delete browsing history on exit and apply then OK

You Should Disable Java

Java has many negative implications for security so you should disable it if your browsing habits permit.

  1. Firefox: Add-ons > Plugins > Java > Never Activate
  2. Chrome: Settings > Show advanced settings > Content settings > Do not run plugins by default
  3. Internet Explorer: The only way to completely disable Java in Internet Explorer is to disable Java through the Java Control Panel. Go to Start > Control Panel > Java to open the Java Control Panel.

Diable Java Internet Explorer

Once in the Java Control Panel for IE:

  1. Click on the Security tab
  2. Deselect the check box for Enable Java content
  3. Click Apply. When the Windows User Account Control (UAC) dialog appears, allow permissions to make the changes.
  4. Click OK in the Java Plug-in confirmation window.
  5. Restart the browser for changes to take effect.

At this point you are probably thinking it would be a good idea to use a browser other than IE!

Now Disable Flash

Flash has many security vulnerabilities and you should disable if at all possible.

  1. Firefox: Add-ons > Plugins > Flash > Never Activate
  2. Chrome: Settings > Show advanced settings > Content settings > Do not run plugins by default
  3. Internet Explorer: Click Gear Icon in upper right > Manage add-ons > Select Shockwave Flash > Click Disable, and then click Close.

Change Your Default Search Engine

You should consier changing your default search engine to DuckDuckGo. Just visit the link and click on the box to set DuckDuckGo as your default search provider. StartPage is another alternative but is not as private as DuckDuckGo.

Install Basic Browser Extensions for Private Browsing

  1. uBlock – the best Ad Blocker, superior to options like AdBlock.
  2. Privacy Badger – blocks spying ads and invisible trackers. Best used in combination with uBlock.
  3. HTTPS Everywhere – encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.

Advanced Browser Extensions for Experienced Users

These browser extensions can greatly enhance your privacy when browsing the web but can break some websites and require more user input to configure. We highly recommend you at least check them out.

If you use Firefox take a look at:

  1. Self Destructing Cookies – clears cookies when you close a tab
  2. NoScript and ReQuestPolicy – these add-ons work together to protect your privacy
  3. RefControl – control what gets sent as the HTTP Referer on a per-site basis.
  4. Random Agent Spoofer – rotates your complete browser profiles at a user defined time interval.
  5. Canvas Blocker – blocks the JS-API for modifying <canvas> to prevent Canvas Fingerprinting.

And for Chrome you should consider:

  1. uMatrix – provides NoScript and ReQuestPolicy functionality for Chrome.
  2. Random User Agent – changes your Chrome user agent on a random basis.
  3. User Agent Switcher – another way to switch user agents.
  4. NOREF – suppresses referrer for hyperlinks.

Outdated Add-Ons

Better Privacy is no longer necessary as Google Chrome and Firefox now clear Flash LSO cookies on close.uBlock replaces Adblock Plus, Disconnect and Ghostery and also works better than any.

What About Safari?

Gibson Research Corporation notes that Apple’s Safari web browser is the only web browser that disables third-party cookies by default and protects its users from third-party Internet tracking. See this link for more information on how to best configure Safari for private browsing. You can also add DoNotTrackMe. However we feel Chrome or Firefox offers more options to protect your privacy at this time.

Conclusions

Tor Browser continues to provide the best option for private browsing and is highly recommended. If using Tor is not an option for you just configure Firefox or Chrome for private browsing following our instructions to block leaks and protect your privacy.