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Security & privacy

Firefox has a new feature in the fight against tracking

Privacy should be foremost on your mind when browsing the web. Each click, each website you visit and each field you fill in with personal information can be tracked even when you leave a site.

Your choice of browsers directly affects your level of privacy. Some have more built-in protection than others, but which one is right for you? Tap or click here for the best browsers for privacy.

That brings us to cookies. Not the delicious kind, but the malicious kind. A cookie is a small string of data (usually text) that keeps track of your browsing history and activity. This can make things convenient, but it can also hurt your privacy when those cookies follow you around. The latest Firefox update introduces Total Cookie Protection to put a stop to this cross-site tracking. Read on to see how it works.

A trail of cookie crumbs

When you visit a website or fill your online shopping cart, cookies are created. This can be a good thing, as you won’t have to re-enter login information and add things to the cart again every time you click away from a page.

A cookie can also help a site remember what you saw during your last visit and mix up the content, so you don’t see the same things. Social networks use cookies to track what you click and use that information to show you relevant content the next time you visit.

Cookies usually hold very little information and cannot be used to reveal much about you. Even so, they can be used to build a profile of you as you move from one website to another. A company can track you across different websites and use this information to target you with specific content. You may never know which parties are accessing this information. And all this is done without your consent.

If you truly want to stop being tracked, use a virtual private network. A VPN offers protection against trackers, external attacks and more. Tap or click here to know what to look for when choosing a VPN.

The ‘Fox takes a stand

Firefox began blocking third-party cookies by default in 2019, and now it is kicking things up a notch. The new Total Cookie Protection update stops cross-tracking in its tracks.

With this feature enabled, Firefox creates a “cookie jar” for any website you visit. When that website or a third party creates a cookie for you, it is deposited in the jar for that site. If you visit another site, you don’t take those cookies with you.

Total Cookie Protection is not enabled by default. You have to have the latest version of Firefox and then set your privacy controls accordingly. Here’s how to do it.

  • Open Firefox and click the hamburger menu icon (three horizontal lines), then Help, then go to About Firefox.
  • The About Mozilla Firefox window will open and Firefox will check for updates and download them automatically.
  • When the download is complete, click Restart to update Firefox.

Following the update, you’ll need to change your settings to turn on Total Cookie Protection.

  • Click the hamburger menu icon, then Options > Privacy & Security.
  • Select Strict Enhanced Tracking Protection. This will enable Total Cookie Protection and also block the following: social media trackers, cross-site cookies, tracking content in all windows, crypto miners and fingerprinters.
  • You can also click the shield icon on the left of the address bar and select Protection Settings. This will open the Privacy & Security panel in a new tab. From there, select Strict Enhanced Tracking Protection.

If you don’t have Firefox, it’s a free and easy download.

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