How to Cover Your Tracks on the Web

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There’s been plenty of controversy in the recent past when it comes to online privacy. Companies have been criticized for keeping tabs on users’ browsing activity, and many are wary of just how much information companies know about them. According to a recent article on Cnet, there are several things that you can do to increase your online privacy. Here they are.

Tweak Your Browser’s Settings to Clear Browsing History

One good thing about keeping your browser history, cache, and first-person cookies intact is that you can easily see the recent paths you have taken online.  It also lets sites offer personalized suggestions based on your browsing behavior, plus you can load past-visited pages more quickly.  While those reasons are certainly advantageous to the overall browsing experience, it does leave you exposed to tracking by others.  Thus, you are better off simply bookmarking the pages you love to visit and losing some of the convenience that comes with retaining your browsing history.

Setting your browser to delete browsing history on exit is a solid way to cover your tracks on the web.  No matter which browser you choose, the process is quick and painless.  Simply go to the tools or options section in Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer, and select the option that clears or deletes browsing history when the browser closes.  Depending on the browser, you will have additional options for even more flexibility in the process.

Use Add-ons to Block Local Shared Objects and Advertisements

If you are a user of the popular Firefox or Google Chrome browsers, you have plenty of add-ons at your disposal to make the most out of your browsing experience.  Luckily, there are several add-ons that tackle the growing problem of internet privacy or lack thereof.  These handy extensions prevent tracking files and items such as long-lasting Flash cookies, otherwise known as local shared objects (LSOs), from downloading.

One such add-on for Firefox users is NoScript.  Created by Giorgio Maone, NoScript lets you be selective as to how you block Flash and JavaScript.  You won’t have to worry about completely blocking yourself off from those technologies, as the add-on gives you the power to block downloading according to specific sites our sources.  The flexibility and core functionality of NoScript makes it a must-have for Firefox fans.

Another worthy add-on for Firefox users is BetterPrivacy.  Developed by NettiCat, this add-on also gives you selectivity by letting you choose which Flash cookies you want to delete or allow.  Its default setting eliminates all Flash cookies each time you shut down Firefox, but you can tweak the settings to fit your needs.  Additional perks provided by BetterPrivacy include LSO-erasing keyboard shortcuts, notifications when new LSOs are stored, and more.

Both Firefox and Chrome users can enjoy the functionality provided by the AdBlock Plus add-on.  It not only keeps pesky ads out of your way, but it also gives you the ability to customize filters for specific domains known to host malware.  Wladimir Palant offers AdBlock Plus for free, but you can donate $5 to show your appreciation.

You’re not out in the cold if you use Internet Explorer.  As long as you are running Flash version 10.3 or later, you can delete LSOs each time you delete cookies in Internet Explorer 8 or 9.

Don’t Forget to Sign Out

Remaining signed in to online sites or services does keep you from having to enter your login information again, but it’s not the best practice.  Nowadays, sites like Facebook, Gmail, and more give you the option to remain signed in once you begin a session.  This is okay if you are on your personal computer at home, but you don’t want to make a habit of remaining signed in on public computers, at work, or other situations where you lack complete control.

Another thing to avoid is signing into websites via integrated login data.  For instance, some sites allow you to log in to their services with your Facebook credentials.  This could give them the ability to track your usage, so you are better off avoiding the option.  Remembering to sign out of services also prevents your information or accounts from falling into the hands of others that may have access to the computer in question.

Boost Internet Browsing Speed and Security with OpenDNS

OpenDNS is a service that swaps out and upgrades current DNS (Domain Name System) service to something that’s not only faster but more secure as well.  It increases browsing speed by employing various web-cache servers that decrease the virtual distance between a site’s content and your browser.  This means that you get your desired data more quickly.  In addition, OpenDNS allows you to set criteria that will filter out content that is either inappropriate or malicious.  It’s a solid tool for organizations and schools but can also help you in your home.  OpenDNS basic is ad-supported but free, or you can pay just $10 per year for the ad-free OpenDNS VIP package.

Of course, there are other methods and practices you can employ to increase your online privacy, but these offer a good place to start to ensure that your virtual tracks are covered.

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