The open source Mozilla Firefox browser has more privacy features than most other common options. While some of the default settings are powerful bulwarks against malicious cyber activity, much of that security is provided by settings – and as with any software, you can improve functionality by tweaking and modifying those settings.
There are many add-ons that affect how Firefox works. We’ll talk about this later in this article, but for now, let’s start with the basics: the simplest steps you can take to make Firefox more secure.
1. Set up a master password
Open any modern browser and you will be given the option to save your username and password when you enter the website. It’s a small convenience that many take for granted, but it’s also a major security flaw. Anyone using your computer will gain access to your accounts simply by visiting this website.
Firefox solves this problem with a master password option. If enabled, the user must enter a master password before using any stored information. In addition, if you want to view the saved passwords through the options menu, you will need to enter the master password again.
Your master password must be secure. Make sure you don’t save it to your computer, but instead write it down somewhere in your home, or use a memorization technique to track it down. Use best practices when creating passwords.
2. Make sure to enable the privacy settings.
After installing Firefox, make sure various privacy and security settings are enabled. Go to the Firefox menu, then to Preferences and select General. Scroll down to the Firefox Updates section. Select “Install updates automatically.”
Then select the “Privacy & Security” tab. The first section you’ll see is Content Blocking. By default Firefox is set to Standard to only block known trackers on Private Windows. Switch it to Strict, but keep in mind that some websites may not function correctly with this option selected.
Below, select “Always” for the “Do not track” option.
Scroll down to the Permissions section. You will see several options. Make sure the following boxes are checked:
- “Block websites from automatically playing sound.”
- Block Pop-ups.
- Warn you when websites try to install add-ons.
- “Prevent accessibility services from accessing your browser.”
A note about accessibility services: If you need accessibility services to effectively browse the Internet and use your computer, make sure you research and know which services you can trust. Some malware can use these services to gain access to your browser and through it to your computer.
Then scroll down to the Security tab. You will see several frames. Make sure they are all checked.
- Block dangerous and misleading content.
- “Block dangerous downloads”.
- Warn you about unwanted and unusual software.
Additions for security and privacy
Firefox add-ons are equivalent to Chrome extensions. These apps give users the ability to customize their browser to their liking and implement security features that no other browser can match.
Of course, not all add-ons are the same. We’ve compiled a list of the top choices that positively impact the overall privacy and security of Firefox.
HTTPS Everywhere is a favorite add-on because of its simplicity. In simple terms, it provides a safe browsing experience on any website that supports it. In more technical terms, it provides three levels of security: server authentication, data confidentiality, and data integrity. If someone intercepts the data transmitted over HTTPS Everywhere, they cannot interpret it without the encryption key.
Nobody likes annoying pop-ups, especially when some of them might be getting personal information from your browser. Firefox has a set of built-in pop-up blocking tools, but it doesn’t catch all of them.
uBlock Origin is a free open source ad blocker that can deal with anything Firefox is missing. It is also customizable, so if there is a specific page that you want to allow ads on (perhaps to support the creator), you can whitelist that individual page.
Privacy Badger is another add-on developed by the Electronics Frontier Foundation, the same team behind HTTPS Everywhere. Many anti-tracking tools maintain a list of broken websites, but Privacy Badger tracks your browsing in real time and keeps track of which domains are tracking you. If any of these domains violate your privacy and security settings, Privacy Badger will automatically block them.
Redundant security is always a good thing. While most trackers will be detected by Firefox’s built-in anti-tracking and Privacy Badger tools, Privacy Possum ensures that anyone who sneaks through the breach will collect nothing but fake, encrypted data.
With both add-ons installed, you don’t have to worry about companies finding out more about you than you want, at least because of your browsing habits.
This add-on is as simple as it gets. When you close Firefox, all cookies that are not actively used are automatically deleted. You can whitelist certain cookies you want to keep, but all the others will disappear. This is a great defense against web sites trying to retrieve data that you have not given permission to receive.
Disconnect from Facebook
Facebook is a force of nature. How many websites do you think are tracking your Facebook account? How many times have you been given the opportunity to comment because you’re already signed in to Facebook? If this bothers you (as it should), then the Disconnect add-on for Facebook can help you.
This add-on blocks Facebook requests for information from third party websites. It also blocks traffic from third-party websites to Facebook, but does not interfere with the normal operation of your Facebook account.
How to install add-ons on Firefox
You don’t need to use all of these add-ons, but we recommend at least installing Privacy Badger, HTTPS Everywhere, and uBlock Origin. There are hundreds of other add-ons you can browse and install if you need even more features than we have listed here.
Installing the add-on is not difficult. Here’s how.
1. Open Firefox and click the three bars on the right to open the settings menu.
2. Click Add-ons.
3. The Get Add-ons tab will automatically open. Click Find More Add-ons.
4. A new tab will open. In the search bar in the upper right corner, enter the name of the add-in you want.
5. Click the add-in in the search results.
6. On the next page, click the button that says “Add to Firefox”.
7. The browser will ask for permission to install the add-on. Click Yes.
8. Voila! You now have the add-on you were looking for. Rinse and repeat to the end.
One final note about cybersecurity
You might be thinking, â€œWhy is all this necessary? Hackers don’t interest me. ” The problem is not hackers, but malware, phishing attempts, and advertising. If you’ve ever noticed a lot of ads for what you’ve recently searched for, the reason is that a website or service is tracking your searches. There may be no malice behind this, but it is a violation of your privacy.
According to statistics, every 39 seconds there is a cyberattack, and 43% of all cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses. Correcting even a random credit card number can be a big headache. If you’ve never experienced identity theft before, consider yourself in luck. This isn’t fun at all.
Take some time to read this article and think about how you can improve your cybersecurity. While we recommend Firefox as the browser option, you can take steps to improve your online security, no matter which browser you prefer. As the world becomes an increasingly online community, individual users must protect themselves.