Tech

Firefox: More security & privacy when surfing

Mozilla has recently equipped its browser with new functions to protect personal data and to track user activity. We explain here how to correctly set up Firefox for safe surfing.

Google Chrome
places the test winner in almost every browser comparison, and again

at the PC WORLD
. However, as fast and expandable as Chrome is, Google does not focus on data protection and privacy. After all, the parent company Alphabet lives mainly from advertising revenue. However, advertising can only be sold if it is targeted to potential customers – and not if consumers hide their interests with the right settings.

This dependency exists with

Firefox
Not. With Mozilla, the browser is a non-profit organization whose business model is not generated by collecting personal user data. The project has explicitly defined this as one of ten fundamental principles: “Individual security and data protection on the Internet are of fundamental importance and should not be regarded as optional,” it says

in the Mozilla manifesto
.

Personal trust or not, the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) attests in its current ”

Minimum standards for secure web browsers
“Firefox is the only program to meet all of the requirements without additional measures.

Browser test:

Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Opera in comparison

Mozilla increases the update frequency and security

Based on this already high level, our guide explains the new and most important functions for data protection, privacy and security. This also includes what which attitudes mean and what they effect. In the following paragraphs, you will first find out the most important security functions that have been integrated into the browser in the past few months.

Since Firefox, the add-on manager has 68 “recommended extensions”, which have been checked by Mozilla and classified as safe. Firefox also requires a secure HTTPS connection as soon as a website wants to access the microphone or camera. Protection against cryptomining and fingerprinting has also been improved: cryptominer and “known third-party cookies” are now blocked by default, previously this had to be activated manually. Fingerprinting is the ability for websites to identify their visitors via technical features such as screen resolution, browser and operating system version and installed fonts even if they delete their cookies.

The password manager and generator

Firefox Lockwise
existed as an add-on before, but it has been integrated in the browser since autumn. In addition, there were the password apps for on the go (Android and iOS). Mozilla immediately connects the required registration with Firefox Monitor: a warning service that notifies users when their registration data has appeared in the course of one of the many data leaks and is therefore no longer secure.

The new certificate display now shows detailed information in its own tab, the list of blocked trackers is easier to access, and the kiosk mode contributes to security because visitors cannot change or adapt anything in it.

Protection from fingerprinting has been active as standard since version 72 in early 2020, so you no longer have to worry about that. Firefox 73 only prompts you to save log-in data if you have previously changed it. In version 74, which has been current since March 10, Mozilla is tightening add-on management: in future, the extensions will only be installed by the user, but no longer by software.

In addition, Firefox now offers more configuration options for the Facebook container to prevent tracking by the social network. Facebook log-ins, likes and comments are automatically blocked on non-Facebook pages.

A Firefox account opens up additional convenience functions

Excerpt from the requirements of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) on secure browsers: Firefox (left column) is the only program that meets all standards.

Like many online services, Mozilla offers the option of creating a personal account. This is not necessary for normal surfing, but for some additional functions. For example, you can use the cross-device synchronization of bookmarks, history, open tabs, form data, extensions, access data and settings as well as sending large data only with an account.

This is

on the Mozilla homepage
quickly created using the “Create Firefox Account” button at the top right. You need a valid email address and a secure password. Then use “Synchronize selection” to specify which data Mozilla should save and synchronize. If you now log on to a second PC with the same account, you can use the small person icon on the top right next to the address bar to synchronize or send a tab to another device.

Note:

The manufacturer explains in detail which data Mozilla stores itself and how you can adjust the default settings

www.mozilla.org/de/privacy/firefox
.

Password manager Firefox Lockwise

You can reach the password manager via “Access data and passwords” in the right sidebar or by entering about: logins in the address bar. If you have not used Lockwise so far, the list is initially empty. The easiest way to create new entries is to confirm the request for the access data with “Save” when logging in to an online service. With the accounts stored in this way, you can log in in the future without having to know the access data for your saved online accounts. For security reasons, it is advisable to additionally secure the password manager by activating the “Use master password” function in the settings (about: preferences # privacy). As a result, Firefox asks for the code once for each new session as soon as you use Lockwise to log in.

If you confirm this usual request when logging in with “Save” in the Mozilla browser, the Firefox password manager takes over your access data.

Lockwise only requires a Firefox account if you want to use your passwords across devices.

Attention, data collector:

How to protect your privacy

Firefox security settings in detail

Protection against fingerprinting, cryptomining, cross-website tracking of user activity and other threats is now activated by default in Firefox.

For the sake of clarity, we follow the order in the functions and settings for data protection, security and privacy that Mozilla specifies in its settings.

If you click on the symbol with the three dashes at the top right, the sidebar opens. Starting at the top, the “protective measures” provide an overview of tracking protection including settings, online trackers – broken down into social media, cross-site, fingerprinting and cryptomining – and the warning service

Firefox monitor
and

Password manager Lockwise
.

“New private window” starts the private mode, which prevents the surfing information from being saved on your PC. Other users of the computer will then not be able to see which pages you have visited, for example. However, you are not anonymous on the Internet or particularly secure (

Misunderstandings about private surfing
).

“Access data and passwords” opens the password management; the box “Password manager Firefox Lockwise” explains Lockwise in detail. You already know the “Addons” with their recommended, more secure extensions. Finally, in the “Settings” section, the “Data Protection & Security” section is important: You can change the activity tracking to “Strict” or customize it with “User-defined”. “Strict” differs from “Standard” in that Firefox not only prevents activity tracking in private mode, but always – with the disadvantage that websites may no longer be displayed correctly. You can use “Manage exceptions” to relax the requirements for individual websites.

Most browser functions do not require a Firefox account, but synchronization of personal data requires an account.

The “Do not Track” setting is hardly relevant anymore because there is no uniform standard and therefore no obligation for the website operator to observe them.

Check data leaks with Firefox Monitor

With Firefox Monitor, you can check whether and, if so, with which services and when your private data was disclosed in the course of an online data leak. Enter your email address (es)

on the test page
and confirm by clicking on “Check for data leaks”. If the test confirms the appearance of your data, it is particularly important that you change the associated password immediately or have already changed it after the specified time. If you would like to be warned of future leaks, log in to your Firefox account using “Receive warning messages”.

Firefox Monitor checks whether your private data is affected by one of the many data leaks. The basis is the international database “Have I Been Pwned”.

Cookies, multiple identities and access rights

On the one hand, cookies are practical for users because they store certain information and thus speed up logging in to a website, for example. On the other hand, cookies pass data on to the websites. With “Cookies & Website Data”, Firefox offers the option of specifying for which online pages cookies should always be allowed, blocked or, if necessary, deleted. If you don’t want to do without cookies entirely and still want to be tracked less, install the new Mozilla add-on ”

Firefox multi-account containers
“. The extension enables several “identities” and thus makes it difficult to track the entire surfing behavior.

Enlarge

The sidebar on the right provides direct access to important Firefox settings; You can reach all options via “Settings” in the middle.

Finally, the “permissions” for access to the location, camera, microphone and notifications are important: the queries that often appear as pop-ups on websites. Here you can manage them using the respective buttons and change any authorizations that have already been created.

Tip:

If you activate the “Block new requests for …” option, you will no longer be bothered by such queries about location, push messages etc. when surfing with the browser.

Firefox 75 and virtual private network

So far, Mozilla only offers its VPN function in the United States. The protection of browser traffic is free, that of the entire computer costs just under five dollars a month.

Firefox 75 was released on April 7th. The focus here is on the revised address bar and a redesigned user interface. But you also want to improve HTTPS compatibility with incorrectly configured web servers by caching trusted web PKI certificates.

In addition, it only seems a matter of time before the Mozilla browser function, which is already available in the United States, will be made available for a virtual private network (VPN) in other countries, and thus also in Germany. The Firefox extension, which only secures browser traffic, is free. Anyone wishing to run all of their computer traffic through the VPN tunnel will pay $ 4.99 a month in the United States.

Firefox Send: Send large files

Depending on the provider, email attachments may not exceed 25 to 60 Mbytes. If you want to send larger amounts of data, a cloud service with a release link is ideal. With Firefox Send, files up to 1 GB can be shared without logging in, with Firefox account up to 2.5 GB. How it works: On the website

https://send.firefox.com
use the mouse to drag the file (s) of your choice into the “Select files to upload” area, assign the password and expiry date if required and start the upload with “Upload”. Then send the displayed download link to the addressee by email.

Firefox Send is used to send large files. These are dragged onto the Send website with the mouse and the upload link is sent to the recipient after the upload.

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