Our modern browsers are much better than their ancestors at protecting us from vulnerabilities and online dangers. It’s rare nowadays ending up with an unusable PC after visiting a webpage. Still, there is room for improvement, especially regarding privacy. The following add-ons for the Firefox browser can help with that. Let’s see how you can protect your online privacy with these Firefox addons.
DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials is a browser extension created by the same people behind DuckDuckGo. It can:
- Automatically block third-party trackers that attach to your browser when you visit a site to track your moves afterward.
- Force sites to use HTTPS connections when available.
- Show you a Privacy Grade for each site you visit.
While none of those are revolutionary features, it’s a mind-numbingly simple solution for everyone who wants the equivalent of a “Privacy: ON” switch in their browser.
That’s why NoScript is one of the extensions worth adding to your browser since it allows you to enable the support for such scripts on or off selectively.
Do note that its use can be somewhat annoying since it’s overzealous. It also blocks stuff you’d like, rendering some of your favorite sites unrecognizable until you whitelist them. Still, that’s a small price to pay for your privacy, and the problem will almost disappear the more you use it.
Lighter on resources and more efficient than many alternatives, uBlock Origin can help you eliminate all the unwanted fluff from the webpages you visit.
As its very description states, it’s not an “ad blocker” but “a wide-spectrum content blocker.” This means that apart from making ads and tracking code disappear, it also allows you to selectively remove page elements or other content you don’t like.
Another great anti-tracking extension, Privacy Badger works differently compared to most of its contemporaries. Instead of relying on predefined lists of “good” and “bad” sites, it’s trying to discover trackers based on their behavior.
Privacy Badger is easy to use. When a site doesn’t display as it should, you start turning on the stuff it blocked, one by one.
When you find what you need for the site to display correctly, you turn back everything else off again.
Theoretically, you can block that type of content, too, but the sites that rely on it would look broken. Since there is no way to solve this problem, DecentralEyes found a way to sidestep it: clone the needed content.
By providing local copies of the content, your browser doesn’t need to seek it elsewhere, so it won’t ping the Googles, Microsofts, and Baidu’s of our world whenever you visit something like a web app that relies on jQuery.
Apart from using third-party extensions, you should also take a look into Firefox’s own security options to protect your online privacy. Click the hamburger button on the top right of the browser, choose Preferences, and pay a visit to the following:
Choose Home from the menu on the left, then disable anything Pocket-related, as well as Snippets. This way, Firefox won’t try to force-feed you their content.
In the Search category of options, disable all Search Suggestions to avoid sending everything you type in the address bar to the browser’s active search engine.
Move to the Privacy & Security grou, and set your Tracking Protection to “Strict.” By choosing Custom instead, you have more control of what your browser will block, but we won’t get into more details about it since that’s a whole tutorial on its own.
Set the “Do Not Track” option to Always, and further down, at the Address Bar, disable “Search engines” to avoid sending your keystrokes to the active search engine.
If you don’t care about helping Mozilla improve Firefox (by sharing with them how you use it), disable everything under “Firefox Data Collection and Use.”
Ensure everything under Security is enabled, and feel free to check out the rest of the options on this page. Those allow you to check (and clear) stored cookies, grant and revoke permissions to access your location, camera, and microphone, or force the use of HTTPS in all the windows.
It’s a useful feature, and Mozilla hasn’t given us a reason not to trust it. Still, if you’re paranoid about your security, you shouldn’t use Firefox’s built-in Sync feature. Alternatively, you can choose to synchronize your Add-ons and preferences, but skip Bookmarks, History, Open Tabs, and Credit cards.