Tired of being tracked on the web? Firefox offers a number of privacy settings that you can adjust for maximum security.
While Google Chrome maintains its position as one of the most popular browsers, it doesn’t mean it’s the safest or the most customizable.
Unlike Chrome, Firefox still retains the speed, security, stability, and customizability that fueled its popularity. It also makes it easy to change your privacy settings, either through customization options or third-party extensions.
Let’s see how you can take Firefox to a higher level of privacy, while using simple adjustments in Firefox settings.
Why Use Firefox
Firefox’s foundation lies in its open-source nature. This makes it completely transparent while nurturing thousands of developers across platforms who contribute to its development. What Firefox means is:
- Owned by a non-profit company, Mozilla.
- Stores a large number of extensions for every usage scenario.
- Completely open-source and free, allowing a high degree of customization.
- Beyond the ecosystem of giant companies that are in the business of selling your data.
Firefox also has built-in security and privacy features that make it easy to create an incognito browsing experience. There are always some quick privacy adjustments you can make too.
These privacy measures can make you more comfortable, and we’ll show you how you can strengthen them even further.
Strengthen Your Firefox Browsing by Changing Settings
As is always the case, everything in life is about compromise. If you want to give up some conveniences for the sake of privacy and security, you should disable some features.
- To harden Firefox, we must first access the menu Options by clicking the three horizontal lines in the upper right corner of the browser.
- Under Options > Home, uncheck the box for Pages Saved to Pocket. This will disable web content from being saved to all your connected devices with your Firefox account.
- Under Privacy & Security, you’ll see three levels of browsing: Standard, Strict, and Custom. choose Strict to block third-party websites from tracking you.
- If the Browsing mode is Strict interfere with certain sites you want to visit, just click the icon Shield/Shield next to the website address, and disable it Enhanced Tracking Protection by clicking the slide button next to it.
- Still below Privacy & Security, scroll down to section History. In the drop-down menu, select Use custom settings for history.
- Then, check the box Always use private browsing mode. This will require a browser restart. From now onwards, Firefox will never save history/autofill data. It effectively removes the accumulated data of your habits to be accessed, tracked and analyzed by third parties, such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc.
- In fact, for a fresh start, simply delete all browsing data from the entire time range, if you haven’t already.
- Similarly, to avoid suggestions that appear when you type something in the address bar, you can deselect all the checkboxes below Address Bar. This further eliminates the collection of data stored on your device.
- Next, scroll down to Permissions. Click Settings for each item, and check the box Block new requests. choose Save Changes to apply this setting.
- Scroll further down to Firefox Data Collection and Use, uncheck all the boxes to ensure there is only minimal interaction between your browser and Mozilla. This stops your browser from sending any telemetry data to Mozilla.
- Now on to the interesting part. Under section Security, you will see Deceptive Content and Dangerous Software Protection. At first glance, it may seem that you want to keep this tick. Unfortunately, it’s Google that decides what constitutes deceptive content, so uncheck that box as well.
- Move from section Security & Privacy to Search, separate search from address bar for better convenience. To do this, select Add search bar in toolbar.
- make DuckDuckGo as your default search engine instead of Google, and uncheck the box Provide search suggestions. This will further reduce your internet browsing footprint by not sharing your interests with the provider.
- In addition to DuckDuckGo, you can also add the privacy search engine SearX.
- Lastly, syncing between devices is a convenient feature to have, but not necessary as you can simply copy the Firefox profile folder to another device. Therefore, you should not leave yourself exposed by creating and using a Firefox Account.
Strengthening Firefox With “About:config” Tweak
So far, we’ve strengthened Firefox using options that are clearly visible within its interface. However, more advanced security and privacy options are hiding under Firefox’s hood. Copy and paste (or type) “about:config” into the address bar to open it.
Uncheck the warning box, and click Accept the Risk and Continue. What we want to find are all references to “telemetry”, so type it into the search filter bar. Double click on the following result, and change the value to false:
Now, click toolkit.telemetry.server and clear the contents of the value box. This will permanently disable the transmission of telemetry data between your browser and Mozilla, or anyone else who may be using Mozilla.
Moving on from telemetry, we now look for references to “experiments”. This draws on Mozilla’s study and testing tools, but they also create datasets that you don’t want to collect. Hence, double click on the following result to convert it to false:
Finally, you should disable network preloading by typing “prefetch” into the search filter. This is important because, as the word implies, it pre-fetches cookies from the site to load. Sometimes, this can speed up browsing, but it can also invite unwanted checks. You have to set it with the following values:
- network.dns.disablePrefetch = true
- network.dns.disablePrefetchFromHTTPS = true
- network.predictor.enabled = false
- network.predictor.enable-prefetch = false
- network.prefetch-next = false
Importing Reinforced Firefox Profile
Just download it to your Firefox profile folder and unzip it. Depending on your operating system, this is where you should extract the files:
|OS X||~/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/your_profile_name|
|Sailfish OS + Alien Dalvik||Alien Dalvik /opt/alien/data/data/org.mozilla.firefox/files/mozilla/your_profile_name|
|Windows (portable)||[firefox directory]Dataprofile|
After you open the downloaded profile extract, you need to create a default profile for your Firefox browser. Do so by typing “about:profiles” into your address bar, and pressing Create a New Profile.
You will be prompted to point to your new Firefox profile folder folder, which you have done. It should be named “user.js-master.”
Finished. You can now make it your default profile with all the maximum security measures without manually changing the values for dozens of settings.
Browse Safely With Firefox
Without using any extensions, you can make Firefox a powerful and privacy-enforcing internet browser. We recommend that you use all of the methods above for the most personalized browsing experience.
Of course, there are thousands of quality-of-life improvements you can still make by taking advantage of Firefox’s rich repository of extensions. Really, few other browsers can boast this extensive level of customization while remaining open source and unrelated to money interests.