Every website you visit keeps track of you in one way or another. It’s usually in the form of in-site cookie, which are small blocks of data that allow you to remember your preferences. Things can go a little haywire when websites use ad trackers, third party cookies, and, now, fingerprinting.
Cookies that are third-party cookies can be cookies placed by companies such as Google, Facebook, and advertising companies. They are used to track you from one site to the next, creating a profile that can then be used to display ads. These cookies can even track your device’s exact location.
Online privacy is at risk from fingerprinting, which allows companies to access your browsing fingerprint data. This data can include your browser version, type and operating system. It also includes time zone, location, plugs, fonts, etc. The data is so large that it can be used to identify one user.
What can you do? You can create your own tracking blocker with Raspberry Pi if you’re feeling adventurous. You can also install privacy extensions such as Decentraleyes and uBlock Origin or DuckDuckGo. First, make sure you have a browser with good privacy features (no Google Chrome, unfortunately).
Firefox has been a privacy-focused browser for years. Mozilla improves every year. Although privacy-only browsers will be discussed, this can often prove to be a difficult transition for most users. We recommend Firefox as a good start point.
Firefox is fast and features-rich. Firefox has its own set of extensions, add-ons and customizations. Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection feature blocks third-party cookies, ad-trackers and fingerprinting. It also blocks crypto miners and third-party cookies. These are all basic features you would expect from a privacy browser. Firefox will not do this by default in Private windows.
Go to Preferences > Privacy, and then switch to “Strict” mode in order to apply this setting on all websites. You can also choose a Custom setting to control what and where you want blocked.
Brave is a browser that offers privacy built in. It blocks cross-site cookies and ad trackers by default. Brave has an Aggressive mode to block fingerprinting, which may cause some sites to be broken. Brave is built on top Chromium so that you can use all of your favorite Chrome extensions.
Brave is a fast, reliable browser. It does some strange things. It really wants to promote its own cryptocurrency coin that can be used to pay websites. There’s also a lot more crypto-based stuff on their start page. Both can be disabled or ignored.
Safari, whether you’re using an iPad, iPhone or Mac, is a great place to start when it comes privacy online. Apple’s own privacy tool, Intelligent Tracking Prevention, uses machine learning on the device to prevent cross-site tracking. This feature is automatically enabled. It’s not a blanket ban, however, as it is machine-learning-based. It will prioritize website functionality over privacy blocking and won’t block trackers if they cause harm to sites.
Safari will also create a Privacy Report that tells you how many trackers it has blocked.
4. Microsoft Edge
You love Chrome but prefer a privacy-focused browser. Microsoft Edge is the best choice. Microsoft has done an excellent job taking Chromium and creating a private, fast, agile browser from it.
Edge offers three levels of Tracking Prevention: Basic, Balanced and Strict. Strict blocks most trackers from all websites. This mode will allow ads to be personalized with minimal detail.
Settings > Privacy, Search, and Services >Tracking Prevention and switching to “Strict”
5. DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser
DuckDuckGo’s Privacy Browser for Android and iPhone is an excellent choice for being private.
It is a fast and simple browser that prevents trackers from following your movements. DuckDuckGo offers a private search engine. Sites are also required to use encrypted connections.
You want to be completely private with surveillance-blocking level of private? You should consider the Tor Browser. Tor, also known as the onion router, is a privacy-focused browser. It routes your traffic through a variety of volunteer-run servers around the globe. Tor is slow to use daily, but this has a big upside. This routing and rerouting process virtually eliminates any ad-trackers and third-party cookies. It also prevents fingerprinting, surveillance, and other intrusions. Tor browser is available on Windows, macOS and Linux as well as Android.