Your web browser is a window into your online digital life. For companies, the browser is a great way to learn more about users. In fact, the most popular web browsers – Google Chrome – is maintained by one of the biggest advertising companies in the world. Google earns ~$150 billion per year in advertising revenue. Not surprisingly, Google uses Chrome to gain insight into user behavior. Chrome collects a wide variety of data including unique identifiers associated the user and device, diagnostic data, analytics data, location data, and potentially browsing history.
One of the simplest things you can do to improve your online privacy is to switch to a different web browser.
Table of Contents
- Switching to Firefox
- Chromium-based Browsers
Switching to Firefox
Firefox is available for most major platforms including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, making it easy to use the same browser across multiple devices.
You can download Firefox directly from Mozilla or using the app store for your mobile device.
- Download Firefox on Desktop
- Download Firefox on Android
- Download Firefox on iOS
- Moving from Chrome to Firefox
Firefox Focus on Mobile
On mobile devices, Mozilla maintains a separate browser called Firefox Focus that is more private than the standard version of Firefox. It includes built-in ad blocking, tracker blocking, the ability to block web fonts, and more. It deletes the browser history between sessions making it a great option for private browsing on mobile.
Recommended Firefox Tweaks
Firefox uses Telemetry to send data about browser functionality to Mozilla. For privacy reasons, we recommend opting out. You can do this by going to “Firefox > Preferences > Privacy & Security > Scroll down > Firefox Data Collection and Use”. Once there, uncheck the box “Allow Firefox to send technical and interaction data to Mozilla”
Install an Ad Blocker
To block advertisements in Firefox, you should install an ad blocker.
Setup HTTPS-Only Mode
Only in Desktop
Enabling HTTPS-only mode in Firefox will require that your browser use encrypted HTTPS connections to websites whenever a website supports it. This helps prevent potential eavesdropping along the way between your computer and the website that you are visiting. You can enable it by going to “Settings > Privacy & Security > Scroll to Bottom > Enable HTTPS-Only Mode”
Change the Default Search Engine
Firefox is set up to use Google as the default search engine. You should change this to a more private search engine such as DuckDuckGo. You can do this by going to “Menu > Options > Search > Default Search Engine” and selecting DuckDuckGo.
Setup Multi-Account Containers and the Facebook Container
Multi-Account Containers is an add-on in Firefox that lets you separate work, shopping, banking, and personal browsing (along with other categories) into separate contexts. These contexts isolate site preferences, logged in sessions, and advertising tracking into separate containers. Each container does not have access to the others.
Additionally, the Facebook Container add-on helps prevent Facebook from tracking you around the web. It isolates Facebook activity into one container and blocks Facebook connections in other containers.
- Install Multi-Account Containers
- Install Facebook Container
- Multi-Account Containers Documentation
- How to Find and install add-ons to add features to Firefox
Install Privacy Badger
Privacy Badger is an extension that blocks advertising and other third-party trackers from tracking you across the web. Privacy Badger looks for tracking techniques like uniquely identifying cookies, local storage “supercookies,” first to third party cookie sharing via image pixels, and canvas fingerprinting. If it observes a single third-party host tracking you on three separate sites, Privacy Badger will automatically disallow content from that third-party tracker.
Google Chrome is based on the open-source Chromium project. Chrome is a closed-source browser from which Google takes the original open-source code and adds Google-specific modifications. These include the ability to play proprietary media formats and the ability for Google to collect data about the browser and its use. Moreover, unlike browsers such as Firefox, Chrome does not block third-party tracking cookies by default.
Occasionally, you may encounter a website that says it only works on Google Chrome. In this case, you will need to use a Chromium-based browser. The best option is Brave. Like Chrome, Brave takes the Chromium engine and layers its own features on top. Unlike Google Chrome, Brave is built with privacy in mind and one of its core features is ad and tracker blocking. It also includes other options such as a Tor-based mode for more anonymous browsing.