Saturday, February 16, 2013

Five Firefox Add Ons to Protect your Privacy

These are all simple to use and simple to install add ons for Firefox that allow for browsing privacy. With the new trends in government and corporate surveillance privacy on the internet has become a major concern. Websites across the web will track your location even after you leave their sites. This slows down browsing efficiency and violates the privacy of the user. These programs will help keep your privacy sovereign over the wishes of corporate entities. There really isn't anything malicious about tracking, it allows the companies to see what you're interested in and tailor advertisements to you. But if you'd prefer privacy in browsing, then use these excellent tools.

To get add ons in Firefox go to the upper left corner and click the drop down menu. Select "Add ons" and then select "Get Add ons." Then you'll want to search for the programs and install them. Most require a browser restart to activate. Be aware that all of these programs are available for other browsers like Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.

1. Ghostery
- Ghostery is a great add on, whose primary function is to block common websites from tracking where you go on the web. Ghostery is all about seeing the invisible behind the internet. It blocks ad programs, data mining, and web analytics. The primary trackers it blocks are Facebook and Google, but there are also around one thousand others that are blocked. Ghostery use is anonymous, there is no sign up involved. You may also use Ghostery to block scripts.

Search and install the add on. In the upper right of your browser it will display the trackers. You must go into the program settings once installed and enable blocking. If you just install and run it will show you whose tracking you but won't block them. I've encountered no major problems with browsing with Ghostery enabled, aside from twitter "tweet" options and facebook "like" options not appearing on outside websites.

2. Google Opt-out - This add on will let Google know that you don't want to be tracked by their Adsense program. Adsense tracks where you go on the web and then tailors advertisements to where you've been surfing. You'll still see the ads, but they won't be tailored by your location.

Search and install the add on. There were no further steps necessary for this add on.

3. Facebook blocker - When you "like" something outside of Facebook, the click sends a packet to Facebook with cookies attached which let it know where you've been going. This simple blocker strips the packet of all cookies.

Search and install the add on. There were no further steps necessary for this add on.

4. Browser Protect - Have you ever downloaded a freeware program off the internet and found your homepage or search bar settings had been changed, or tagged with an advertising program? Consider it a thing of the past. With major websites like CNET tagging loads of advertiser and tracking programs onto legitimate downloads it's never been more advisable to install a buffer between these programs and yours.

Search and install the add on. If a program or website attempts to change your homepage or search bar you'll be prompted to allow or deny that change.

5. Twitter Disconnect - Any website that has a "tweet" option on it will relay information back to Twitter about where you're surfing. In fact 20% of the web currently has this function. This simple add on blocks Twitter from communicating with those sites permanently. Simple and easy.

Search and install the add on. There were no further steps necessary for this add on.