We think Firefox is fantastic out of the box, but where it really shines is customizability. By adjusting Firefox privacy settings and using helpful add-ons, you can increase your privacy and security even further.
1. Change Your Search Engine
This is an easy one if you’re looking for some protection from big advertising networks. In the Search tab of your Firefox Preferences, change your Default Search Engine to something other than Google.
2. Enhanced Tracking Protection
Now we’ll delve into the biggest set of options for people like us, Firefox’s Privacy & Security options section. First up is their Enhanced Tracking Protection. This set of filters is set to Standard by default, but we’ll want to change it to Strict for more comprehensive coverage.
Strict protection takes a stronger stance against third-party trackers and cookies, but in rare situations it can break some websites. However, there’s no need to worry about enabling it here. If you suspect the Strict browsing protection is breaking a website you visit frequently, you can disable it on a site by site basis with the shield icon in the address bar.
Disabling Enhanced Tracking Protection will of course decrease your privacy on that site, so you will have consider whether that’s something you are willing to compromise on, on a site-by-site basis.
Another benefit of Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection is that it can
actually speed up your browsing! Advertising networks and social media
embeds can sometimes make your browser download huge files just to show an ad or a like button, and blocking those out trims the fat, in a sense.
3. Disabling Telemetrics
When you use Firefox, Mozilla collects information about what you do,
what kind of extensions you have installed, and various other aspects of your browser. While they claim to do this in a privacy-respecting way, sending as little data as possible is always preferred from a privacy standpoint, so we would go ahead and uncheck all the boxes under Firefox Data Collection and Use just to be safe.
4. Clearing Cookies Regularly
For more advanced users, Firefox provides the option to delete all your cookies and site data every time Firefox is closed. Cookies and site data are little pieces of information sites store in your browser, and they have a myriad of uses. They are used for things like keeping you logged in and saving your website preferences, but they also can be used to track you across different websites. By deleting your cookies regularly, your browser will appear clean to websites, making you harder to track.
This will likely log you out of websites quite often, so make sure that’s an inconvenience you’re willing to put up with for enhanced tracking protection.
5. Enable DNS over HTTPS
DNS (or the Domain Name System) is what your browser uses to turn domain names like privacytools.io into IP addresses like 220.127.116.11. Because computers can only make connections to IP addresses, it’s necessary to use DNS every time you visit a new domain.
But DNS is unencrypted by default, that means everyone on your network (including your ISP) can view what domains you’re looking up, and in some situations even change the IP answers to redirect you to their own websites! Encrypting your DNS traffic can shield your queries and add some additional protection to your browsing.
Encrypted DNS takes many forms: DNS over HTTPS (DoH), DNS over TLS, DNSCrypt, etc., but they all accomplish the same thing. They keep your DNS queries private from your ISP, and they make sure they aren’t tampered with in transit between your DNS provider.
Fortunately, Firefox recently added native DoH support to the browser. On the General page of your preferences, scroll down to and open Network Settings. At the bottom of the window you will be able to select “Enable DNS over HTTPS” and choose a provider:
6. Use an Adblocker
7. Install “HTTPS Everywhere”
HTTPS is the secure, encrypted version of HTTP. When you see an address starting with https:// along with the padlock in your browser’s address bar, you know that your connection to the website is completely secure. This is of course important when you’re logging into websites and sending your passwords and emails in a form. But it also prevents people on your network and your ISP from snooping in on what you’re reading, or changing the contents of an unencrypted webpage to whatever they want.
Of course, it only works with sites that support HTTPS on the server’s side, so you’ll still need to keep an eye on your address bar to make sure you’re securely connected. But fortunately more and more websites have implemented HTTPS thanks to the advent of free certificates from organizations like Let’s Encrypt.
8. Install “Decentraleyes”
Because everything is stored locally instead of on a far away server, Decentraleyes has the added benefit of speeding up your browsing as well. Everything happens instantly, and you won’t see a difference in the websites you visit.
9. Consider Multi-Account Containers
A containers setup may be a good alternative to techniques like regularly deleting cookies, but requires a lot of manual intervention to setup and maintain. If you want complete control of what websites can do in your browser, it’s definitely worth looking into, but we wouldn’t call it a necessary addition by any means.
Firefox Privacy Summary
In conclusion, we believe that Firefox is the most promising browser for privacy-conscious individuals. The non-profit behind it seems truly dedicated to promoting user control and privacy, and the good defaults coupled with the sheer customizability of the browser allow you to truly protect your information when you browse the web.