You have set the right privacy settings in Facebook and checked the appropriate boxes in Google settings to make sure none of these Internet giants are keeping tabs on what you are browsing online. But these steps may not protect you completely since hidden traps in third-party websites, like the Facebook ‘Like’ button in The New York Times, are capable of acting as broadcast stations for your data. The Google+ widget, Foursquare check-in button, any embedded social networking widget for that matter, is capable of storing, tracking and transmitting your information back to their home servers where it can be used for all kinds of annoying things such as targeted ads. This can happen while you are in any website that includes social network integration and to combat this you need to shore up your browser’s defenses.
You could pick and choose where you want to install them – I generally protect my personal laptop more than my work-machine since the company VPN provides the needed protection. There are many free and awesome tools available for our purpose, but here are the top five tools that I like.
Adblock Plus: This is an absolute must if you distrust social network services that take too much liberty with knowing you. Just a few clicks with Adblock Plus, and this bad boy will block any and all traffic between your browser and any other networking site along with any advertisements and unrelated pop ups. Works well with both Firefox and Chrome.
Do Not Track Plus: Do Not Track Plus actively disables all the cute little networking icons unless you explicitly activate them. Although modern browsers have the ‘Do not track’ option built-in, it does not prevent them from exchanging data between those embedded widgets. Do Not Track Plus disables them outright. Like Adblock Plus, this one is also available for both Chrome and Firefox.
ScriptNo: This is a Chrome only plugin that makes it easier for you to see what a particular website is doing using scripts. Whenever a website tries to execute a non-standard looking script- many websites do it – ScriptNo will let the siren go. Although its a bit annoying in the beginning, once you get a hang of its workings, you will be blocking unwanted scripts effortlessly.
NoScript: This is the Firefox version of ScriptNo. The presentation is a little cumbersome but the security is top notch.
Priv3: Priv3 is a little project from the researchers at Rutgers University and the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI). It protects you from hidden third-party cookies installed on the websites you visit using Firefox and it also disables networking icons similar to Do Not Track Plus. People from LifeHacker like it.
If for some unfortunate reason you use Internet Explorer, then one option to make your life easier is to install Chrome. The second option is Firefox. Another option is to borrow your friend’s computer which has Chrome or Firefox in it.
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