Saturday, September 12, 2015

Browsing the Internet more safely. Step 1 - block ads

So often people ask me, "Kimmy, how can I be safer while browsing the Internet?" and I have some ways that I do it and thought I'd share. Firstly, what do I mean "protect" yourself?  Obviously we all know not to download sketchy files from odd places on the Internet, right? (Don't download random files from places that I wouldn't trust... that's such a bad idea) Unfortunately, that's not enough. Ads on websites are bad in 3 ways. 

  • They're annoying. 
  • They install cookies that track everything that you do in your browser, when you use it, what sites you go to, even login information and use that information to deliver you more targeted ads. Why would you want some random company collecting ALL of this data on you? Imagine how much they can tell about you just from your browsing habits and use.
  • They connect to 3rd party websites that frequently deliver malware and don't need to be clicked on to exploit your browser/computer, just loading the ad is enough.

How do I stop this? 
  1. Don't use IE. Ever.
  2. Install an ad blocker. I've always used the add-on Ad Block Plus in all of my browsers (At least in Chrome and Firefox) Since then I have 2 new favorites that I would recommend installing. uBlock Origin or Ghostery. uBlock Origin isn't based on a list, it looks at the behavior of the web requests and blocks anything that doesn't appear to be legitimate. If you want to see ads on a particular site, I won't judge you, it's easy to disable it for that site only so you're still protected other places.
    1. uBlock Origin for Chrome or Firefox
    2. Ghostery for Chrome or Firefox
  3. For good measure install another add-on - noscript (Firefox). It'll stop flash and java and other malicious scripts from running automatically. You can of course enable them as you like but by default everything is blocked.
  4. Don't use IE. Ever.

For what it's worth I've used Ghostery for a year or two now and I think it's pretty good, I just started using uBlock Origin instead and it's supposed to be a little faster; we'll see. I'd do one or the other, not both, so you don't significantly slow down your browser. Though, if you don't mind it's always better to have different layers of defensive security in place.

Stay tuned for my next post on how can I keep myself safe on the Internet coming soon!