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Configuring Chrome for Privacy and Convenience

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Configuring Chrome for Privacy and Convenience

Privacy and convenience often seem like competing goals, but they don't have to be. Let's take a look at how to configure Chrome to make the best of both.

· Security Zone ·
Free Resource

Mobile is increasingly becoming a part of every consumers’ identity, but the increasing use of this digital channel is escalating the security risks faced by consumers and institutions.

I've recently set up a new MacBook, which helped remind me of some of the settings I've configured in the Google Chrome browser, to keep it from accumulating lots of "stuff" over time: history, cookies, and so forth. The accumulation of this stuff eventually represents a loss of privacy and control that I dislike. On the other hand, browser features such as history are convenient, and I don't want to disable them entirely. I just don't want too much of them. This blog post is about how I've found a balance that I like.

Here's a quick list of what I've done and why:

  • Google wants me to sign in to a Google account within the browser itself. That sends my browsing history and activity to Google, which I don't want. So I don't sign in.
  • I turn off search engine prediction services and enable the "do not track" setting.
  • I visit DuckDuckGo, then open the search engine preferences and set it as my default. DuckDuckGo doesn't track you when you do searches and is a very good search engine in my opinion.
  • I disable automatically adding search engines as a side effect of visiting websites. I find it disturbing that this feature exists and isn't possible to disable from within Chrome because it's a form of history in a way. This requires a bit of fiddling with internals via SQLite but isn't otherwise hard to do. The solution is described at https://superuser.com/a/688270
  • Under content settings and cookies, I configure Chrome to keep local data until I quit the browser, and block third-party cookies. This cuts down on most cookies, and a quick restart of the browser deletes the ones that do accumulate. There's a short list of sites that I want to allow cookies from; I add these under the settings to allow specific sites to set cookies that won't get cleared when I restart the browser.
  • I disable all the features related to filling forms and saving passwords. I use 1Password for that and I trust it a lot more than a browser from Google.

I don't install a lot of extensions. The ones that I keep active are:

  • uBlock Origin, an ad blocker.
  • Mercury Reader, which mimics Safari's reader view.
  • 1Password
  • Feedly Subscribe Button
  • History AutoDelete, which I set to clear history after 5 days.

There are a few others that I install but don't activate unless I need them:

  • Awesome Screenshot, although I like Firefox's screenshot features enough that I often use it instead of Chrome when I want to take a screenshot of a very tall page.
  • Evernote Web Clipper; it works okay but I rarely use it, preferring to save articles through Feedly, which does a better job.
  • Buffer, which is fine but I rarely use via extension, since I usually compose an email to my "email to buffer" address instead.
  • Super Auto Refresh, which I use rarely.

With those settings and extensions installed, I find that my history, cookies, and similar don't accumulate over time. Restarting my browser a few times a week is enough to delete the relatively small amount of tracking content that gets past uBlock Origin.

Explore the authentication advancements that are designed to secure accounts and payments—without overburdening consumers with a friction-laden experience.

Topics:
security ,browser security ,google chrome security ,web security

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