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Change these browser settings ASAP to better protect your privacy

Headlines 18:52 22 Dec, 2021

Whether you're using Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox or something else, your browser privacy could be better.

Change these browser settings ASAP to better protect your privacy

Privacy is now a priority among browser-makers, but they may not go as far as you want in fighting pervasive ad industry trackers on the web. So, why not take your online privacy in your own hands before the end of the year? By changing some browser settings, you can crank up your privacy to outsmart that online tracking.

Problems like Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal elevated privacy protection on Silicon Valley's priority list by showing how companies compile reams of data as you traverse the internet. Their goal? To build a richly detailed user profile so you can become the target of more accurate, clickable and thus profitable advertisements.

Apple and Google are in a war for the web, with Google pushing aggressively for an interactive web to rival native apps and Apple moving more slowly -- partly out of concern new features will worsen security and be annoying to use. Privacy adds another dimension to the competition and to your browser decision.

Apple has made privacy a top priority in all its products, including Safari. For startup Brave, privacy is a core goal, and Mozilla and Microsoft are touting privacy as a way to differentiate their browsers from Google Chrome. It's later to the game, but Chrome engineers are building a "privacy sandbox" despite Google's reliance on ad revenue.

For all of the browsers listed here, you can give yourself a privacy boost by changing the default search engine. For instance, try DuckDuckGo. Although its search results may not be as useful or deep as Google's, DuckDuckGo is a longtime favorite among the privacy-minded for its refusal to track user searches.

Other universal options that boost privacy include disabling your browser's location tracking and search engine autocomplete features, turning off password autofills, and regularly deleting your browsing history. If you want to take your privacy to the next level, consider trying one of the virtual private networks CNET has reviewed that work with all browsers. (You can also check out our roundup of browser-based VPNs to try and the best VPNs for Windows.)

In the meantime, though, here are some simple settings you can change in your browser to help keep a good portion of advertising trackers off your trail.