How to protect your privacy when browsing on Google Chrome.

the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.

Yesterday I came across an XKCD comic and I started to wonder if we all think like a Nihilist or a Sage in the comic when it comes to privacy? How many of us make a conscious effort in protecting our privacy?

Source: XKCD Comics

In this article, I’d like to share some ways you can make your Google Chrome more secure and private.

This article is mainly focused on Google Chrome users as according to the latest browser market share study 54.99% of the users use Google Chrome.

So, let’s start …

Step 1:
It’s no mystery that Google stores everything, from your YouTube and regular searches to your location history and voice/audio input. Google gives you the option of stopping that and you can do that by going to the link here, which will take you to your Google activity dashboard. On the left, you should see the “Activity Controls” option. Click on that and disable all the activities. You now have successfully stopped Google from tracking your location and searches.

Step 2:
Get some awesome free Google Chrome Extensions

  1. AdBlock
    As the name suggests, this prevents malicious ads that prompt you to install software on your computer. According to me, it’s a must have and it’s very useful in almost all cases.
  2. HTTPS Everywhere
    A little background before I explain what this Google Chrome Extension does. In the beginning, network administrators had to figure out a way to exchange information on the internet and so they agreed on a procedure to exchange information and called it HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Once everyone knew how to exchange information, intercepting on the Internet was not difficult. So knowledgeable administrators agreed upon a procedure to protect the information they exchanged. So the information was encrypted and then exchanged. This procedure is called HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). Sadly, a lot of websites still use the HTTP protocol and so when you login-in on such a website, your password is in plain text and any hacker intercepting the traffic can look at it. For that we have HTTPS Everywhere to the rescue. It is an extension created by EFF and the Tor Project which automatically switches thousands of sites from insecure “http” to secure “https”. It will protect you against many forms of surveillance and account hijacking, and some forms of censorship.
  3. BrowSec
    Browsec encrypts your traffic and routes it through a secure cloud network. This allows no one to identify, track you or sniff your traffic. This extension is available in Mozilla Firefox too for all those who use that browser.
  4. Disconnect
    Thousands of companies, cybercriminals, and governments invisibly track your online activity in many ways and this Google Chrome extension helps to keep you secure. The added benefit of using this is that it blocks tracking requests from connecting to your devices, which makes the Internet faster, extends battery life and saves you bandwidth.
  5. LastPass
    A common tip any security specialist will give you is that you should have a strong password and should try to have different passwords for different websites. I understand doing that can be really difficult, especially when you have various accounts on different websites. An easy solution the problem is to use LastPass. You only have to remember one password which would be your LastPass master password. You can save all your usernames and passwords to LastPass, and it will auto login to your sites and sync your passwords everywhere you need them. All of your data is sealed with AES-256 bit encryption, salted hashing, and PBKDF2 SHA-256. For more information on how it works, you can click on the link here.

Step 3:

Use DuckDuckGo (DDG) as your default search engine instead of Google.

“You don’t have to use Google. There is another way.”

You probably might have heard this name before. Although Google is my favorite, I’ll definitely suggest you give DDG a try! DuckDuckGo’s main ethos is that it “doesn’t track you” and protecting your privacy is front and center of its concerns. If you feel you won’t be able to make the switch, you can try one of the DDG’s bang (‘!g’) which allows you to surf on the encrypted version of Google.

I hope you found this article useful. It is really important for us to understand the importance of our online privacy and preserve it before it’s too late.