Firefox privacy settings tuning

 

The following instructions will help you to configure your Firefox Web browser, to minimize the possibility of privacy leaks.

Most of the results can be achieved by using certain browser add-ons. Since Mozilla's Firefox is a highly customizable web browser, you can change all essential settings also without using any add-ons.

 

Enter Firefox's "under the hood" settings

To change essential settings of the Firefox web browser you need to enter the "hidden settings" menu.

Thus you need to type Type about:config into the address bar and hit the Enter button on your keyboard.

A warning message will appear. Click "I'll be careful, I promise" to proceed to the settings menu.

Note: All the changes described in this guide will be made after entering the "about:config" settings menu.

The most of the settings will break the functionality of the most modern sites. It is not recommended to use these settings without the need.

 

Disable JavaScripts

One of the most important settings to keep your browser stealthily, is turning off the JavaScript support in your browser software.

To do so, please follow these steps:

Type javascript.enabled into the field with the label "Search".

Two lines will remain.

javascript.enabled and services.sync.prefs.sync.javascript.enabled.

Double click the line "javascript.enabled" and toggle it from "true" to "false".

Double click the line "services.sync.prefs.sync.javascript.enabled" and toggle it from "true" to "false".

 

Disable Cookies

Cookies allow a remote server to store information on a visitor's computer. Usually, the cookies are used by websites to "remember" a logged-in user of this website. However, cookies can be used to track the user during his journey through the world wide web.

To prevent sites to place cookies on your computer, follow these steps:

Type network.cookie.cookieBehavior into the settings search bar.

Right click the line "network.cookie.cookieBehavior" and choose "Modify".

Change integer value from "0" to "2" to block all cookies.

Change integer value from "0" to "1" to allow cookies only from website that you visit.

Change integer value from "0" to "3" to allow cookies by the visited website and cookies from third-party web sites, such as advertising, embedded in this website, but only cookies already stored on your computer.

To ensure the highest level of security it is recommended to set the value to "2".

 

Disable Flash

After being downloaded into the "temporary internet files" folder, Flash elements can communicate with the Internet by using your real IP address independently of the proxy settings of your computer.

Therefore, flash elements can establish a direct internet connection to remote server, even if your browser is configured to surf the web via proxy server.

There are three solutions to prevent a privacy leak by embeds.

First solution: You can try to change the settings of your Flash player and deny remote connections.

For these reasons, please read the instructions on the Flash Player's manufacturer website: https://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/kb/communicate-internet-flash-content.html

Second solution: Type plugin.state.flash into the seach form.

Click right mouse on the line "plugin.state.flash" and choose "Modify". Change the state from "2" to "0".

Third solution: Type about:addons into the address bar and hit "Enter" button.

Watch out for Plugin named "Shockwave Player".

Change the status from "Always Enable" to "Never activate".

 

Disable WebRTC

WebRTC is the most underrated IP leak cause.

WebRTC can submit client's real IP address to remote server even from behind a proxy server or VPN.

Real-Time Communications (RTC) function was introduced in modern browsers to allow exchange of media components in real time, such as used for Internet telephony and video telephony over the Internet.

Recently WebRTC was used by Advertising networks to track the user's navigation on the Internet, as WebRTC can not be blocked by Ad Blockers like Adblock Plus or uBlock.

Because this browser component is relatively new, the majority of users are unaware of its privacy exposure potential.

To disable WebRTC, please follow the steps below:

Type media.peerconnection.enabled into the settings search form.

Double click the line named "media.peerconnection.enabled".

Change the status from "True" to "False".

Type media.peerconnection.video.enabled into the settings search form.

Double click the line named "media.peerconnection.video.enabled".

Change the status from "True" to "False".

This will turn off the WebRTC feature.

 

If you do not want to completely disable WebRTC feature, you may use the WebRTC a security feature introduced in latest Firefox versions:

Type media.peerconnection.ice.relay_only into the settings search form.

Double click the line "media.peerconnection.ice.relay_only" and change its status from "False" to "True".

 

Disable DOM Storage

While popular computer magazines and mass media demonizing the "evil cookies", DOM Storage provides a much more serious threat than the cookies ever were. DOM storage (Document Object Model storage) was introduced to allow websites to store the code on visitor's local storage and modify it on-the-fly.

Similar to Cookies also DOM offers storage space on local Computer but of much larger size. Occasionally, there are rumors that DOM storage can be exploited and jacked to execute malicious code on a client's machine. To avoid any risk, it is advisable to disable the DOM storage entirely.

To disable browser's DOM storage, do this:

Type dom.storage.enabled into the setting search bar.

Double click the line "dom.storage.enabled" and change the status from "True" to "False".

 

Disable HTTP Referrer headers

Every time you navigate the web, information about your previously visited website will be sent to the next website.

HTTP referrer information was originally introduced to help the logging systems such as server logs (combined log format) or visitor counter to collect more information about the visitor. The most useful purpose of HTTP-referrer information is to give an idea of the keywords that people are searching for when they enter a website.

 

To disable the sending of HTTP referrer information, follow these steps:

Type network.http.sendRefererHeader into the the search bar.

Right click the line "network.http.sendRefererHeader" and choose "Modify".

Change the integer value from "2" to "0".

 

Disable HTTP referer information transmitted by visiting secure sites (https).

Therefore, do following steps:

Enter network.http.sendSecureXSiteReferrer into the search bar.

Double click the line "network.http.sendSecureXSiteReferrer" and change the status from "True" to "False".

 

Mozilla's Firefox has introduced an experimental "per-element referrer" feature which is transmitting HTTP referrer for particular elements such as:

<a> - Hyperlink

<img> - Picture

<iframe> - Frame

<area> - Clickable area

 

Disable per-element HTTP referrer

Type network.http.enablePerElementReferrer into the settings search form.

Double click the line "network.http.enablePerElementReferrer" and the value from "True" to "False".

 

 

Optional Firefox Privacy settings tuning

These settings are not essential for privacy browsing but may be adjusted if you want to take the most out of your settings.

All these settings may be configured inside the about:config settings menu.

 

Tracking Protection

This setting enables a Firefox built-in feature for filtering tracking codes and hit counter codes on websites. All visited websites will undergo a filtering process based on 'Disconnect blocklist' containing thousands of well-known visitor tracking and statistics gathering services.

Enabling tracking protection does not only hide yopu fropm statistic collectors, but it also speeds up your browsing experience by over 40 percent.

To enable 'Privacy tracking protection':

Type privacy.trackingprotection.enabled into the setting search bar.

Double click the line "privacy.trackingprotection.enabled" and change the status from "False" to "True".

 

Do not track

Do not track feature was introduced to give the online user thre ability to tell websites that this particular visitor does not want to be tracked. However, it is up to the website if this site will respect your 'do not track' request or just ignore it.

To enable 'do not track header', do this:

Type privacy.donottrackheader.enabled into the setting search bar.

Double click the line "privacy.donottrackheader.enabled" and change the status from "False" to "True".

 

Private Browsing

Private Browsing feature, when enabled it will prevent Firefox from saving browser history. Private Browsing does not anonymize your online activities outside of your local computer. Private Browsing is only useful if you do not want to leave the traces of your online activities on your computer.

To enable 'Private Browsing':

Type browser.privatebrowsing.autostart into the setting search bar.

Double click the line "browser.privatebrowsing.autostart" and change the status from "False" to "True".

 

Browser Geolocation

Geo-positioning is usually used for Location-Aware Browsing. For websites that offer you content based on your Geo position, such as local classifieds or delivery service. This function can also be used for tracking your current location. If you do not want to be tracked, you may disable this feature.

To disable Geolocation sharing:

Type geo.enabled into the setting search bar.

Double click the line "geo.enabled" and change the status from "True" to "False".

 

Google Safe-browsing

This setting enables a built-in feature that will compare all visited websites with Google's safe browsing blacklist. This feature is enabled by default and is intended to protect users from visiting phishing sites. At the same time it will send all your browsing history to Google

To disable Safe-browsing:

Type browser.safebrowsing.malware.enabled into the setting search bar.

Double click the line "browser.safebrowsing.malware.enabled" and change the status from "True" to "False".

Type services.sync.prefs.sync.browser.safebrowsing.malware.enabled into the setting search bar.

Double click the line "services.sync.prefs.sync.browser.safebrowsing.malware.enabled" and change the status from "True" to "False".

 

Change default search engine

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that does not save the requests of its users and does not process this information in any way. If you are into privacy, it is recommended to use this search engine.

Alternatively, you may use the secure version of Google search "https://encrypted.google.com/".

 

To change your default search provider inside Firefox's context menu:

Click on the magnifier icon left from the search from in your Firefox browser

Choose "Change Search Settings" and hit the label "Add more search engines..."

You will beredirected to Firefox Add-ons site.

Choose search provider "Google (encrypted)" and add it to Firefox.

 

 

 

Conclusion

The above instructions will show you how to set-up your browser for maximal privacy without using any add-ons. The same level of privacy protection can also be achieved through the use of security related plug-ins reviewed in this article.