Internet safety notes modeled after advice to some friends, most of whom are aware of my IT paranoia. You may find it useful, or not.
Presently, I’m using Firefox because Apple updated Safari, permanently breaking 3 of 4 add-ons I considered very important to safe browsing. I checked out some other browsers (Brave, Opera…) because I didn’t really want to go back to Firefox after they trashed their CEO several years ago for a campaign contribution. I went back to Firefox anyway because it offered add-ons that met my needs. My configuration is described below:
First, I use the built in Firefox blocking (trackers, 3rd party cookies, cryptominers and fingerprinters) and set “delete all cookies and site data upon closing Firefox” to “yes.” Also, delete all history upon exit. I set the location, camera, microphone and notifications permissions to my satisfaction. Call it “Hell, no!”.
I block pop-up windows, I get warned if a website tries to install an add-on, deceptive content is blocked (I have to accept Firefox’ opinion on this or override it). I run the certificate checking options.
Second, I use DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials. This has a very simple interface for tracker blocking. It should be redundant, as should several items listed below. I think of it as just another layer. I never use Google for search, except through an option (!g) provided by DuckDuckGo.
Third, NoScript. To watch YouTube, for example, I have to temporarily allow YT to run scripts. You can do that permanently if you get annoyed. I erase them immediately after watching a video with the sixth item, below.
Fourth, I have a Firefox add-on called Multi-Account Containers. It lets you set categories named whatever strikes your fancy, and assign to those categories any URL(s) you wish. This creates separate containers for websites by category. Cookies downloaded by one Container are not visible to other Containers. You will immediately see the advantage of isolating the cookies. Facebook could not see any of my Twitter visits for example, even if I used either of them.
Fifth, I use Privacy Badger from EFF. Another simple interface blocker. Presents sliders in red, yellow, green about the tracking attempts. Again, should be redundant.
Sixth, there is a Clear Browsing Data add-on which I use immediately after visiting any site I’m forced to use. I will know what URLs were the offenders by having had to permit them in one or more of the above add-ons. It deletes:
Cached images and files
Autofill form data
Local storage data
Seventh, Canvasblocker. Which blocks pixel image based trackers. SB redundant to the builtin Firefox option on fingerprinting.
Also, in front of that, and applying to all traffic (email, for example) are Freedome VPN and F-Secure X-Fence. The VPN makes my IP appear to come from Miami, New York, or elsewhere depending on my mood. I switch randomly. It also encrypts all the traffic so my ISP has no idea what I’ve done and can’t commercialize any of my interactions. Freedome also provides a list of “harmful” websites and you have to override warnings to see them. Interestingly, I’ve reported half-a-dozen false positives to Freedome and they’ve removed the blocks. I’m pretty sure the complaints which caused them to red-flag those sites came from SJWs. Nothing remotely harmful to the sane was on any of them.
X-Fence monitors every attempt to write anything on my machine. (Turn it off for any software update.) It lets me decide to allow or deny; once, until quit, until restart, or forever. Of course, you have to let your browser write cookies, or it won’t work, but then the add-ons above come into play. I’m able to block incessant ‘updates’ from Adobe and other apps. These are not cookies, but executables, and they are still trackers.
At first, this whole thing can be a big pain. Especially X-Fence. You have to decide which of many arcane processes you will allow, though the “learning mode” eases that pain considerably. This is true to some extent with NoScript, too. After a week, this drops off dramatically and you will have learned a lot.
Should you not wish to go to this trouble, I’d recommend Privacy Badger, Firefox Privacy, DuckDuckGo Privacy and Multi-Account Containers.
I can’t comment on the level of interaction required for just that subset, but I’m sure it will break some sites and require your intervention (you can just turn off the first 3 and I anticipate no problem from the cookie isolator) if something doesn’t work. I have customized my banking, for example – it is interesting when they change their scripts and cookies – it lets me look at what they’ve done and it would surely cause a spoofed website to fail.
Oh, and I run Sophos malware scanning in real time.
All the above are free excepting the VPN.