We want you to be safe from nosy trackers and websites that follow you around the web. To do that, however, you must use safe browsing practices.
Even on websites that are not part of any advertisement networks, if it contains embedded content such as a twitter feed, a facebook “like” button, pinterest feed, or a video from youtube, the websites where that content is residing can track you. This is why you should use safe browsing practices no matter where you go.
Your Web Browser
The first thing you should consider is using an independent browser. What I mean by that is if you use Chrome, you are being tracked by Google and Google trackers are in 75% of all websites. It’s even worse if you use the sign in and sync feature because then you are sharing everywhere you go on every device. We at ILJ Mail recommend Firefox for general every day use. There are a few reasons
1. Firefox is not dependent on any of the “big tech” infrastructures. It is open source so it doesn’t have a huge company behind it trying to watch your every move.
2. Firefox has built in privacy guards. Right at the start, it will protect you from cross site tracking, fingerprinting, cryptominers, and social media trackers.
3. Facebook Container tabs. If you install the Facebook container extension, you can use Facebook like normal but it’s tracking will be “contained” on it’s own site. It does not allow their tracking to follow you out to other websites.
4. Firefox has been around a long time and Mozilla (the company that makes it) claims to be privacy advocates and are striving to make the browsing experience better.
In case you are wondering, no, we do not get compensation for recommending Firefox. We just like it. 🙂
The only problem I have is the few sites I run across that are designed to work better in chrome. Here are a couple of other alternatives that use the “chrome engine” and should work if you like Chrome or if you need to use a website that doesn’t like Firefox. Their browsers look and act like chrome, but are not run by Google.
Browsing on Mobile Devices
There are mobile apps for Firefox, Brave, and Opera, but you should also try the Duck Duck Go app!
When you are done browsing, you can tell it to “burn” your tabs and forget everything you did. Then you can close out that app with peace of mind that nothing will be tracked to you.
This is good for looking up information on those health questions you searched that you don’t want to see ads for everywhere. (see our humorous video about that very thing…)
Making sure you are using a browser that doesn’t track you is the first line of defense in safe and private browsing practices.
You need to stay conscious of the security of the website that you are browsing as well. Make sure you look up next to the web address and look for that padlock and the “https” at the beginning. If it’s closed (locked) and has https, that means that the website has a security certificate in place and that all interactions between you and the website server is encrypted.
This is is important especially when you are on a network that could be accessed by a creep that wants to see what you are doing or steal your login information.
Stop using Google as your search engine. I know it’s not easy to break that habit. We even call searching for something on the web “googling it”! If you stop using Google as your search engine, you will lose some conveniences but the reason for those conveniences was soley because they tracked you everywhere and knew what you liked. However, Google is also guilty of putting you in a “filter bubble” and will tailor your search results and even filter out things it doesn’t want you to see.
We recommend and use the DuckDuckGo search engine. (duckduckgo.com)
DuckDuckGo doesn’t store your personal information. They don’t store your search history, follow you with personalized ads, or track you.
Here are a couple of extensions that you can get for any of the browsers that we highly recommend. Please note that you will sometimes have to tweak the settings on these extensions to see some content.
DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials (duckduckgo.com/app)
Once again, something from Duck Duck Go! You can look for this extension in your browser’s extension “store” or click the link above. This tool sits on your browser with no input needed from you (unless you think it broke a website, then you just turn off the protection with two clicks). It gives you an overview of the privacy of the website you are on, forces encrypted connections when available, and blocks advertising trackers.
Privacy Badger (privacybadger.org)
Privacy Badger is an extension that automatically blocks trackers from following you around the web. It is not an ad blocker but if it senses that someone is following you from site to site, it will stop that tracker from loading any more content on your screen so it can’t follow you anymore.
So there’s the absolute basics to help you browse the web with a little more privacy. There are more things you can pile on top of these suggestions but we wanted to put up a simple guide to help you get started.