People today have many concerns regarding their browsing history and the visibility of their data to another person. There could be varying reasons for that. Many of them want to get rid of intrusive ads, and some just don’t want their searches to be seen by others using the same Internet connection.
Also, the enforcement of controversial broadband rules by Trump’s administration is a great concern, so much so that it’s provoking users to find a way to hide their browsing history.
However, for multiple reasons, most people couldn’t find an appropriate and efficient solution. Through this article, we hope to tell you about various security measures that can help you wipe your browsing history and prevent it from being exposed.
1. Use Browser’s Privacy Mode
While using a computer at a public place or the one that is shared by others, your browsing history is automatically stored. To avoid such a situation, you must activate the browser’s privacy mode before performing any activity that allows you to surf the internet. Doing so blocks the third-party cookies tracking your activity between different sites. Also, the first party cookies that the site keeps as proof of your presence are also wiped out when you leave the site, thereby preventing other people from seeing clues of your presence.
All you have to do is select private or incognito mode from the browser’s toolbar.
2. Delete the Cookies
The removal of third-party cookies is a way to prevent your browsing history from being tracked, but something known as super cookies is a greater threat. Sites that run Flash are generally those with some kind of video stuff, and they do keep the Flash cookies (or super cookies). These could retain much larger amounts of data and could reproduce those deleted third-party cookies.
Super cookies record your path through which you move from one browser to another. The way to remove super cookies and other cookies could be CCleaner, which you have to download. If you don’t want to do that, be vigilant, as you could be signed-in frequently many times by a site using third-party cookies.
3. Restrict Browser From Sending Location Details
Oftentimes the browser locates your presence at a certain place and transfers that information to the site you are visiting. They usually keep this data to give you more targeted and personalized search results. Moreover, it could also be used to enhance the ads displayed by advertisers.
To avoid such a situation, you could refuse the location request given by the browser when you visit a site. However, to remove such requests permanently, you could follow these steps;
- Chrome – Go to Preferences > Settings > Advanced > Content settings, and choose the option of Disallow or Ask for the request of location whenever you visit a site
- Safari – Preferences > Privacy, and select ‘Disable Location Services’ or ‘Ask’
- Firefox – Type “about:config” in the URL bar and after that ‘geo.enabled’. To avoid Firefox’s repeated requests for sending your location to any website you visit, double-click to disable location entirely
- Microsoft Edge – To turn off location requests, you will have to do it from the main computer settings. Then go to Privacy and choose location option. Now turn off Microsoft Edge
4. Search Anonymously
Search engines like Google have heavy traffic on them for which they have to respond. Also, the result given by Google differs from person to person depending upon the user’s data. In some ways, it is useful for us as we get the advanced results according to our needs. However, it keeps us away from certain other web pages that could contain useful information regarding the topic.
To restrict Google from doing this, access Search Tools > Results >Verbatim. However, a more efficient way to avoid your activity from being tracked is just to move to a private search engine, such as DuckDuckGo. The ads are also been restricted while browsing privately.
5. Avoid Google Tracking
Google provides you with many of its services, including Google Calendar, Gmail, Chrome and others. With all these one-click browsing folders, we could easily get the information or your desired content at a very fast speed. But it’s also negative for us, as Google could track your activities in many ways through your emails, searching activities, etc. that give it an opportunity to present personalize results.
Also, this data of yours could help them display interrupting advertisements. You could avoid this problem by getting out of “shared endorsement” in Ads and by turning off Ad Personalization. This will not prevent ads from showing up, but it will restrict them to ones that are not personalized according to your browsing history.
Now, download Google Analytic Browser Add-on to stop Google tracking your activity and creating an ad profile.
6. Stop Social Sites From Tracking You
For social sites, it’s really easy to track our interests, as we have immense information and personal interest activities on such sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. Also, these sites follow our activities even after we have logged out of our accounts. They do it through the sharing or like button we click on.
To avoid personalized ads on social networking sites, you could follow these steps:
- For Facebook – Go to Facebook settings > Adverts to control whether ads are targeted based on your clicks in and out of Facebook
- For Twitter – Access settings > Security and Privacy. Then uncheck the box for “Tailor Ads”
- For LinkedIn – Go to Privacy and Settings > Accounts > Managing Advertising Preferences
This process will stop personalized ads from appearing, but your activity will still be tracked for security reasons.
7. Avoid Tracking
Almost every internet site tracks you by different methods, including cookies. These are present on distinctive objects on the web page, such as ads, comment section and sponsored links. Advertisers belonging to an ad network place cookies on a site to get data about when someone visits it.
These advertisers extract your interests and preferences through this data and share it with members of that ad network, so as to better advertise their product.
To stop such activities, you could change it from browser privacy settings and from there turn on Do Not Track option. You could also opt-out of tracking at the Network Advertising Initiative and Digital Advertising Alliance.
You would still observe ads on web pages, yet they are not personalized.
8. Stop Every Tracking Activity by Ad Blocker Plugins
You can’t confirm that your activity is being tracked or not after you have opted out. This is because many sites do not cater such requests. However, downloading browser plugins for the anti-tracking purpose could block all sites from tracking.
Plugins, such as Privacy Badger, Ghostery, or Disconnect, stop all intrusive ads by blocking cookies and prevent advertisers to build your profile based on your internet activities.
9. Using VPN Could Help
Your browsing activity could also be tracked through your IP address. All the above options are really helpful at keeping you away from marketers by blocking tracking cookies.
For further protection, a VPN is an excellent anonymity tool that masks your real IP address and assigns you a new IP. This protects your location and browsing information from being exposed as your real identity is not on display.
It would also be helpful in unblocking sites that are restricted and banned in some countries.
10. Remain Anonymous through Private Browser
A private browser with plugins, proxies, and setting changes could give you an excellent and anonymous browsing experience. Private browsers protect you from being tracked and bring all the above-mentioned features. You could enable proxy by turning it on from the toolbar in a private browser.
Epic Privacy Browser, for instance, is based on Chrome but with specialized settings that could stop trackers following your activities. You will still see ads but without being tracked, and your homepage will show the information about how many trackers have tried to observe your activity.
11. Use Tor
The Tor browser distributes your internet traffic through many nodes(servers). Therefore, your presence at a certain website will only show the IP address of the existing node.
This is why using Tor could make it really hard for snooping eyes to track your activity. However, while using Tor, you could face speed issues.
Most of the time, we are not aware of the fact that we are being tracked by websites we visit. Also, internet users are not familiar with the cons of internet movement tracking that in some ways is beneficial. Although it requires efficiency and effort to make your browsing history anonymous, once you are done with these privacy settings, you can enjoy secure browsing without the fear of being noticed.
About the Author: Peter Buttler is a professional security expert and lecturer. He serves as a digital content editor for different security organizations. While writing he likes to emphasize on recent security trends and some other technology stuff. You can follow him on Twitter.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.