Browser protection

Here are 6 extensions to use with Firefox for hiding your identity and protecting you from bad things – and 5 of them work for Chrome also.

Use These 6 Extensions To Improve Privacy & Security On Firefox, Mihir Patkar, Make Use Of (April 2)

Adblock Plus is on the list because it will also block “worms, trojans and other types of malware.” Just a matter of subscribing to Malware Domains.

Disconnect Search is mentioned – search Google but without being tracked or recorded.

Going Incognito

For online privacy, you might try Disconnect for search; or Silo, which is a browser.

How to hide your online searches: We browse incognito with Disconnect and Silo, Mark Hachman, PCWorld (Mar 26)

Disconnect is also described in New app lets you search through Google without being tracked, Ben Zigterman (Mar 25)

Use Disconnect to search Google, Bing, Yahoo through the Disconnect proxy, thereby hiding your identity.

For more on the Silo “cloud browser”, see New Silo Web Browser Vanishes After Each Session by Lauren Goode, re/code (Mar 24)

The idea behind Silo is that it offers a cloud-based, secure browsing session that is running on Authentic8’s servers. It creates shortcuts to dozens of commerce, banking and health websites, and is supposed to make the login process easier and more secure.

Chrome’s incognito search

There are some features in the Chrome browser you’ll want to know about.

Google Chrome’s top 10 hidden features by Daniel Johnson, The Telegraph

“From the iPad interface to quick calculations, Daniel Johnson brings you 10 of Google Chrome’s best hidden features.”

Especially note incognito mode:

if you are concerned about privacy and the amount of information collected by Google when you are browsing, incognito mode stops Chrome from storing information about the websites you have visited. It still has your bookmarks but the sites you visit will not be stored in your browser history.

Use CTRL-Shift-N to open an incognito window.

Search Privacy?

Use of search engines that don’t track appears to be on the increase judging from this Forbes article.

Why Traffic To These Google Alternatives Is Soaring by Adam Tanner, Forbes (Feb 10)

In early 2013 traffic doubled at Ixquick and Startpage and climbed at DuckDuckGo. Mind – Google in December 2013 still had 67.3 % of the US market at 12.3 billion searches a month – and DuckDuckGo around 135 million.

How do these privacy friendly sites work? Startpage uses Google results which it buys from the company (in a slightly less user friendly interface); its sister company Ixquick, as well as rival site DuckDuckGo, present results compiled from a series of different search engines. For example, DuckDuckGo says its sources are its own web crawler, Yahoo!, Yandex, WolframAlpha, Bing and crowd-sourced sites such as Wikipedia.

Google declined to answer Adam Tanner’s questions about privacy and Google’s use of search records.

Email Hazards

It’s very easy to get tricked into opening malware through an official looking email. Chris Hoffman, writing for Make Use Of, tells us How to Spot a Dangerous EMail Attachment (Jan 20, 2014)

However, I would go further and advise not opening an email attachment unless you know the sender and are expecting the document or photo or file.

And be suspicious of all emails that appear to be from your bank, Apple, PayPal, or your telephone company – any company at all. Chances are that this is phishing. Carefully check the domain of all email addresses and links (right click to see this). You will likely see something odd in the name – country code of .ru, or some cooked up variant of the company name.

Behavioural Advertising

Google’s allowance of behavioural advertising has caught the attention of Canada’s interim privacy commissioner, Chantal Bernier, and made headlines in news channels.

Google ads target Canadians using personal health info
Internet search giant says it will increase monitoring of ads – CBC (Jan 15)

A man who had searched on sleep apnea started to see advertisements for treating the condition and lodged a complaint. As noted in the CBC article, “Canada’s privacy law does not allow consumers to be targeted based on “sensitive personal information,” including a person’s health”.

Google has said it will monitor advertisements more for compliance with its policy that ads not respond to sensitive information.