The right settings: Surf safely and privately with the Firefox browser

If a browser is not properly configured, it can quickly become the gateway for cyber criminals. Firefox is one of the most popular providers. See what security settings you can make to surf safely while you work.

Mozilla Firefox - success story of a free web browser

Since 2002, people worldwide have been using the "Firefox" browser (then called Phoenix and thus the emblem) to explore the Internet. According to Statista, it is the most widely used web browser in the world after Chrome, with a market share of around 10 percent.

Behind the invention of free software is the nonprofit organization, Mozilla Project, formed in 1998 as acollaboration of programmers whose mission, according to their own statement, is "to ensure that the internet is a global public resource and accessible to all."

Mozilla Firefox is committed to security, privacy and transparency. For example, Mozilla offers the opportunity to participate in weekly corporate meetings, and in early June, a new, more rigorous anti-tracking approach was released.

What can happen if the security and privacy settings in a browser are not configured correctly?

In the worst case, cyber criminals can gain access to your device and thus your data. This can happen in different ways, such as:

  • targeted exploitation of security vulnerabilities due to missing updates,

  • lack of malware blocking, such as that transmitted by means of alleged online advertising, or even

  • missing malicious website blocking.

When it comes to privacy, you may run the risk of companies following your behavior on the Internet after visiting their website. The information is processed further to improve their online service, but above all, for advertising purposes. Others would like access to your location or microphone. At this point, each user has to decide for himself how much he wants to divulge.

How can I surf safely with Firefox?

The basic security settings are usually preset by Firefox. Nevertheless, check again to ensure everything is configured correctly and take additional safety measures if necessary.

1. Enable automatic updates

Updates are often used to close security holes, as well as the most recent security warning. A possible browser restart may be a bit of a pain, so you should have automatic updates enabled so you don’t miss any important security updates. You can make sure your browser is up to date, by checking it free at Perseus .

To set the function:

Burger menu (three bars in the upper right corner of the window) ---> Settings ---> General ---> Firefox Updates ---> "Allow Firefox to automatically install updates (recommended)"

2. Enable protection against harmful websites and content

If you land on a dangerous website by mistake, Firefox will warn you. With the help of a database that collects fraudulent and malicious sites, Firefox can classify them as dangerous. The database is updated every 30 minutes , according to Firefox.

To set the function:

These features are turned on by default. If you still want to check them, you can find them at: Burger menu (three bars in the upper right corner of the window) ---> Settings ---> Privacy Security ---> Security ---> "Block dangerous and fraudulent content" should be ticked.

3. Prevent tracking

With the help of so-called cookies (small data packets that are automatically stored on the PC), it is possible to track your behavior on the Internet across multiple websites. On the one hand, this is practical if the online purchases are still in the shopping cart, even after browsing on other pages. On the other hand, it is questionable whether third-party providers really need to know which pages have been visited. Firefox implemented an advanced anti-tracking engine with its early June update. This makes it possible to lock the cookie in a so-called "sandbox." For the website that sets the cookie, it appears to have been saved successfully, but when you visit the next page, the browser has forgotten it again.

To set the anti-tracking feature:

The practical thing is that this feature is preset on all current Firefox versions. If you want to be sure, you can check your tracking status as follows:

Burger menu (three bars in the upper right corner of the window) ---> Settings ---> Privacy & Security ---> Block page elements ---> check "Strict" and click "Always" under the "Do Not Track" information.

To delete existing cookies:

Burger menu (three bars in the upper right corner of the window) ---> Settings ---> Privacy & Security ---> Cookies and Website Data ---> Click on "Manage Data" and delete cookies no longer needed

4. Site secrecy

Using GPS and Wi-Fi, you can share information with website owners about where you are at the moment (location-based surfing or geolocation). This is often used to offer location-based services or to import local advertising, but also to improve your own location services, such as apps. If you don’t want to exchange this information, you should take the appropriate measures.

To avoid revealing your location for individual pages:

Put a check mark in the page popup window, "Remember decision" ---> click on "Do not allow"

To never reveal your location:

Burger menu (three bars in the top right of the window) ---> Settings ---> Privacy & Security ---> Permissions ---> Location ---> Check the box next to "Block new requests to access your location"

To disable the Mozilla location service on Android:

Settings ---> Privacy ---> Data Submission ----> Uncheck "Mozilla Location Service"

5. Cancel automatic downloads

Prevent automatic malware downloads by enabling the "Ask me where to save a file" feature each time. In this way, you can manually decide if you want to download the file and where to save it.

To set the function:

Burger menu (three bars in the upper right corner of the window) ---> Settings ---> General ---> Files and Applications ---> Click "Ask where to save a file" each time

6. Disable the automatic password memory

If you share a work computer with colleagues, you should definitely disable the automatic password memory or set a master password. You will need to enter this with each new session to access your stored information. Otherwise, co-users would have unrestricted access to all online services whose access data was stored.

To turn off automatic password storage:

Burger menu (three bars in the upper right corner of the window) ---> Settings ---> Privacy & Security ---> Access Data & Passwords ---> uncheck & Questions as to whether access data and passwords for websites should be stored"

To set a master password:

Burger menu (three bars in the upper right corner of the window) ---> Settings ---> Privacy & Security ---> Access Data & Passwords ---> Click "Use Master Password" ---> Set and Repeat Password ---> Click on "Ok"

7. Use private mode

Private mode (also known as incognito mode) does not create a history or search history during browser usage. The cache and cookies are also automatically deleted. This feature is especially useful if you are sharing a computer and do not want others to see your history.

To set the function:

Burger menu (three bars in the upper right corner of the browser) ---> click on "New private window" with the mask icon

8. Blocking pop-ups

Not only are pop-ups annoying, in some cases they can even be dangerous. "Malvertising" is the trend among criminals. These are malicious programs with infected ads camouflaged as advertising, even in pop-ups. When visiting affected websites, these ads are executed automatically.

How to set the functions:

These features are turned on by default. If you still want to check them, you can find them at: Burger menu (three bars in the upper right corner of the window) ---> Settings ---> Privacy & Security ---> Permissions ---> Put a checkmark next to "Block pop-up windows."

You can also use an ad-blocker. This will block ads before they open in your browser. Note, however, that many free services, such as online media, are financed through advertising. With an activated ad blocker, these are often not or only partially available.

 

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