If You Care About Your Privacy, You Need to Change These Browser Settings Right Now

Although browser makers are prioritizing privacy, they may not be doing as much as you'd want to combat omnipresent ad industry trackers. You can, however, take control of your online privacy and defeat internet tracking. Changing some of your browser settings is a smart place to start.

By demonstrating how firms collect reams of data as you use the internet, incidents like Facebook's Cambridge Analytica debacle catapulted privacy protection to the top of Silicon Valley's priority list. What do they want to achieve? To create a deeply comprehensive user profile so that they can target you with more precise, clickable, and hence profitable ads.

Apple and Google are in a web battle, with Google pushing hard for an interactive web to compete with native applications and Apple moving more slowly, partially due to concerns that additional capabilities may erode security and be inconvenient to use. Privacy adds a new level to the competition as well as your browser selection.

Apple prioritizes privacy in all of its products, including Safari. Privacy is a primary aim of the Brave browser, and Mozilla and Microsoft are emphasizing privacy as a method to separate their browsers from Google Chrome. Despite Google's reliance on advertising income, Chrome engineers are working on Topics. A new privacy-preserving ad-targeting system that the tech giant is developing as a successor to its failed FLOC project.

You may improve your privacy by altering the search engine in almost all of the browsers mentioned above. Try DuckDuckGo, for example. Even though the results of the search may not be as informative or comprehensive as Google's, DuckDuckGo has long been a favorite among privacy-conscious users due to its reluctance to trace user queries.

Other general privacy options include limiting your browser's location tracking and search tool autocomplete capabilities, turning off password autofill, and regularly erasing your browsing history. Try one of the virtual private networks that CNET has tested and found to work with all browsers if you want to take your privacy to the next level.

In the meanwhile, here are some basic browser settings you can adjust to help keep most ad trackers off your trail.

Chrome browser privacy settings to change

When used fresh out of the box, the world’s most famous browser is also often regarded as one of the least private. On the bright side, Chrome's open-source and flexible foundations have enabled independent developers to build a host of privacy-focused plugins to combat trackers.

Click Extensions on the left side of the Chrome Web Store. Put the name of the extension you're searching for into the search field. Click Add to Chrome once you've found the proper extension in the search engine results. A dialogue box will appear detailing the browser permissions the plugin will have. To add the extension to your browser, click Add extension.

If you change your mind, open Chrome and click the three-dot More menu on the right to manage or remove your extensions. Then choose More Tools, followed by Extensions. You may also learn more about the extension by clicking Details on this page.

Here are four things to consider when you begin: Cookie Autodelete, uBlock Origin, Privacy Badger, and HTTPS Everywhere are some of the tools available.

If you're using Android, you're out of luck: extensions don't function. As a result, you'll have to switch browsers entirely to something like DuckDuckGo's app.

You may also disable third-party cookies in Chrome by choosing Settings. Then scroll down to the Privacy and Security section and click Cookies and other site data. Select Block third-party cookies from the drop-down menu.

Changing the Safari browser's privacy settings

Safari, by default, activates its unique Intelligent Tracking Prevention technology to keep you one step ahead of privacy invaders. Despite this, the tool hasn't always performed well since its launch in 2017. Google researchers discovered how Intelligent Tracking Prevention might be used to track users, but Apple resolved the issue.

Safari can inform you which ad trackers are active on the page you're visiting and can provide you with a 30-day record of the trackers it found while you were browsing. It'll also tell you where those trackers originated.

Open Safari and go to Preferences, then Privacy to see if blocking is enabled. It's a good idea to tick the box next to Prevent cross-site tracking. You may also erase your cookies manually while you're there. To view which websites have left trackers and cookies in your browser, go to Manage Website Data. Remove any individual trackers you want to get rid of by clicking Remove next to them or remove the entire list by selecting Remove All at the bottom of your screen.

Cookies, both first-party cookies from the website publisher and third-party cookies from others such as advertisers, can be useful rather than invasive. But you can disable them totally for more privacy. To do so, check the box next to Block all cookies.

You may download essential App Store plugins like AdBlock Plus or Ghostery Lite for Safari if you still want an extra degree of privacy.

Edge browser privacy settings to change

On the Tracker avoidance menu of Microsoft's Edge browser, you may set some simple privacy and tracker blocking options. Choose Settings from the three-dot menu sign in the top right corner of Edge. From the menu on the left, select Privacy and Services.

Basic, Balanced, and Strict are the three options available to you. Edge defaults to the Balanced setting. It prevents trackers from sites you haven't visited while yet being forgiving enough to spare most sites from the performance issues that come with stricter security. Similarly, Edge's Strict option may interfere with the behavior of some websites. But it will stop the vast majority of trackers. Even with the Basic option, trackers used for crypto mining and fingerprinting will be blocked.

Firefox privacy settings to modify

Firefox's default privacy settings are more protective than Chrome and Edge's. The browser also provides additional privacy choices beneath the hood.

Select Preferences from the main menu of Firefox, or the three-line menu on the right side of the toolbar. Click Privacy & Security when the Preferences box appears. You'll have three options to pick from here: Standard, Strict, and Custom. Trackers in private windows, third-party tracking cookies, and crypto miners are all blocked by default in Firefox. Strict mode bans everything prohibited in Standard mode, plus fingerprints and trackers in all windows. Although it may disrupt a few websites. Custom is worth investigating if you want to fine-tune how trackers are prevented.

After you've chosen your degree of privacy, click the Reload All Tabs option to implement your updated tracking settings.

Brave browser privacy settings to change

In terms of anti-tracking capabilities, Safari's most recent privacy enhancements fall short of the majority of those seen in the Brave browser. Brave by default bans all advertisements, trackers, third-party cookies, and fingerprinters while maintaining lightning-fast performance. Brave also has a Tor private browsing mode, a powerful tracker blocking tool, and a built-in VPN for iOS users.

Select Preferences from the main menu to see the Settings panel on the left. On the right side of the screen, choose Shields to display a range of privacy choices. You may pick which kind of trackers to block by selecting the Advanced view. You may also disable login buttons and embedded content from Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn by scrolling down. Explore Additional Settings on the left and pick Privacy and security for even more protection and privacy fine-tuning.