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Security & privacy

If you said goodbye to Firefox years ago, here’s a reason to try it again

Websites use several ways of tracking your activity across the internet. The most popular and accepted form of this is cookies. The small text files are created every time you visit a website, and it stores information on your browsing habits.

It might seem nefarious (and for the most part, it isn’t), but they have a useful function. The information stored in them is what enables you to access a website without having to log in. Cookies also remember things like products you viewed or where you are.

But cookies aren’t always used for good. There has been much debate whether they still have a purpose, as they can pose a threat to your data. The Firefox browser has a new tool that deletes cookies automatically.

Here are the details

Browsers like Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari, and Mozilla’s Firefox have been taking a harder stance on protecting your online privacy. By not blindly allowing websites to track your behavior, many browsers have added cookie protections or more user options.

Mozilla has now taken that one step further with its Firefox browser by adding a major privacy enhancement. With a recently rolled out update, Firefox makes removing all cookies and supercookies from your machine easier.

In a blog post, Mozilla explained that cookies could be fully removed for any or specific websites. As part of Firefox Strict Mode, it builds on its existing Total Cookie Protection.

Browser total cookie protection

Here’s how it works

When you visit a website, the cookie is stored on your machine. It can include inane data like the time you logged on, but some sites embed trackers into it. This is a real threat, as it can follow you around the internet, collecting more information on you.

By updating Firefox to version 91, the new Enhanced Cookie Clearing function destroys all traces of a website in your browser. Mozilla promises that the new ability also removes third-party cookies that usually remain after deletion. These are often referred to as supercookies.

By going to Settings > Privacy and Security > Cookies and Site Data > Manage Data, you’ll see a cookie jar for each website you have visited. When you click on a website in the list, you have the option to remove all cookies or just selected ones.

How to update your browser

To update your Firefox browser to the latest version:

  • Open the desktop browser
  • Click the three lines in the upper right-hand corner
  • At the bottom of the menu, click Help
  • Then click About Firefox

This will show the current version you have. If the update is available to you, it will automatically start downloading. You must restart your browser afterward for the changes to take effect.

To Enable Enhanced Cookie Clearing, you need to have Strict Tracking Protection enabled. To do this, you need to click the three lines in the upper right-hand corner, click Settings and then Privacy & Security. By default, the browser will be set to Standard, but you must select Strict for the security update to be effective.

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