Safer Internet: Browsing: Manage Storage of Private Data

Why?

  • meditation+ Browsers (and applications) store local data about/for various online activities, e.g., site history, download history, cookies, flash cookies, web caches, search, passwords
  • + Some data could be damaging in the wrong hands
  • - Some data can be useful to you: speed, convenience, even necessary
  • - Some data may be logged / stored remotely by ISP

Where: OS, Apps, Browsers

  • Android: Settings
  • iOS: Settings > Notifications, Control Center, Privacy
  • macOS: System Preferences > Security & Privacy, Sharing, Parental Controls
  • Win: Control Panel / Settings
  • Applications that access the internet, e.g., Facebook, Maps, Skype, etc.; also see Email section
  • for Location, Notifications: Connection: Unnecessary Services section
  • bowser historyBrowsers -- settings vary; meanings of "history" and "web data" may vary
  • macOS: Safari > Preferences > Privacy, Security
  • Firefox > Preferences > Privacy, Security
  • Chrome > Preferences (or address: chrome://settings)
  • iOS: Settings > Safari
  • Windows: IE: Control Panel > Internet Options
  • [3] Some browsers come with pre-sets for more privacy/security settings, e.g., Epic, WhiteHat Aviator

Before or After?

  • Two strategies (or combo of both) to minimize this data:
  • Before: prevent data from being stored on your device or on servers in the first place -- settings or private browsing
  • After: remove stored data later -- manual commands or automatically upon exit from browser / app
  • [2] System utilities can remove some caches, history, e.g., macOS: Maintenance, Onyx; Win: CCleaner

[1] Private Browsing

  • privateTypically stores locally & temporarily (until tab/window closed): cookies; browsing, download, and search histories; form/autofill data; page or image caches
  • What's stored / hidden / erased may vary by browser; tradeoffs: performance, convenience
  • Potential loopholes: data from plug-ins / extensions; downloaded files still on disk; bookmarks; search engine might store terms on server; cached DNS lookups
  • Despite 'private/incognito' label, it does not provide anonymity per se -- just more temporary / compartmentalized browser storage; see VPN, anonymous browsing, e.g., Tor
  • Before (all windows by default)
  • Possible in some browsers, but not too practical since some sites won't work well; would there still be a way to open a new window in non-private mode?
  • macOS, iOS: Safari: not avail
  • macOS: Firefox > Preferences > Privacy > History > Always Use Private Browsing Mode
  • [3] Chrome -- involves starting with "-incognito" switch in AppleScript (macOS), Properties (Win) or command line
  • privacy mode[Refs:Private Browsing]: "How to [mostly] Always Start Any Browser in Private Browsing Mode"
  • After (specific new window & tabs)
  • macOS: Safari > File > New Private Window
  • macOS: Firefox > File > New Private Window
  • macOS: Chrome > File > New Incognito Window {TCYOP-3: Figure 10: 74; TCYOP-2: Figure 10: 66; TCYOP-1: Figure 9: 67}
  • iOS: Safari > [rects] > Private

[1] Cookies

  • cookie monsterusually erased by Private Browsing, but some browser settings useful anyway
  • recommended: blocking "3rd-party" cookies
  • blocking all cookies means some sites won't work well (or at all)
  • allowing all cookies is a bad idea
  • erasing cookies means you'll have to re-login to sites, and perhaps re-enter a security answer or 2FA code
  • Before
  • macOS: Safari > Preferences > Prevent Cross-Site Tracking: on; Block All Cookies: off
  • macOS(older): Safari > Preferences > Privacy > Cookies and website data > Allow from websites I visit [screenshot]
  • macOS: Firefox > Preferences > Privacy > History > Accept Third-party Cookies > Never; Keep until:(expire, close Firefox); {TCYOP-3: Figure 11: 76; TCYOP-2: Figure 11: 68; TCYOP-1: Figure 10: 68}
  • macOS: Chrome > Preferences > Advanced Settings > Privacy > Content Settings > Cookies > Block third-party cookies and site data
  • iOS: Settings > Safari > Prevent Cross-Site Tracking: on; Block All Cookies: off
  • iOS10: Settings > Safari > Privacy & Security > Block Cookies > Allow from websites I visit [screenshot]
  • what happened cookiesAfter credit: humoresquecartoons.com
  • macOS: Safari > History > Clear History and Website Data (cookies, history, other data)
  • macOS: Safari > Preferences > Privacy > Cookies and website data > Remove All Website Data [screenshot]
  • macOS: Firefox > History > Clear Recent History
  • macOS: Chrome > Preferences > Advanced Settings > Privacy > Clear Browsing Data
  • macOS: System Preferences > Flash Player > Storage > Delete All (flash cookies)
  • iOS: Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data (cookies, history, other data) [screenshot]
  • [2] macOS: System Preferences > Flash Player > Storage > Delete All, i.e., "Flash Cookies"
  • see section Malware : Flash for more about Flash cookies or uninstalling Flash
  • [Refs]: "How to Say "No Thanks" to Verizon's Supercookie"

[1] Web Site Tracking

  • horse stream bedturn off, though some web sites may ignore this (optional) request -- see Ad Blocking section to really reduce tracking
  • macOS: Safari > Preferences > Privacy > Website tracking > Ask websites not to track me [screenshot]
  • macOS: Firefox > Preferences > Privacy > Tracking > Tell websites I do not want to be tracked
  • macOS: Chrome > Preferences > Advanced Settings > Privacy > Send a "Do Not Track" request with your browsing traffic
  • iOS: Settings > Safari > Privacy & Security > Ask websites Not To Track Me [screenshot]
  • [Refs:Tracking]: "Microsoft Changing Default 'Do Not Track' Setting"

[1] AutoFill: Passwords, Contacts, Credit Cards

  • only as secure as device admin password
  • backup?
  • share between browsers on same device?
  • share between devices (esp. if different vendors)?
  • generally, it's better to use a password manager
  • Before
  • macOS: Safari > Preferences > Autofill (contacts, passwords, credit cards)
  • macOS: Firefox > Preferences > Security > Logins > Remember Passwords for Sites
  • macOS: Chrome > Preferences > Advanced Settings > Passwords and forms > Enable AutoFill to fill out web forms in a single click; Offer to save your web passwords
  • iOS: Settings > Safari > Passwords & AutoFill (contact, passwords, credit cards)
  • After
  • macOS: Safari > Preferences > Passwords > Remove All (or selected)
  • macOS: Firefox > Preferences > Security > Logins > Saved Logins
  • macOS: Chrome > Clear Browsing Data
  • iOS: Settings > Safari > Passwords & AutoFill > Saved Passwords / Credit Cards

More

[2] Browsing History

  • nsa historylist of sites visited; usually erased by Private Browsing and utilities
  • history may be accessible by other users, e.g., nosy friend, cybercafe, law enforcement
  • you can also use Bookmarks or Password Manager to save / return to important sites
  • Before
  • macOS: Firefox > Preferences > Privacy > History > Remember my browsing and download history
  • After
  • macOS: Safari > Clear History and Website Data (cookies, history, other data)
  • macOS: Safari > History > Clear History and Website Data
  • macOS: Safari > General > Remove History Items (time) [screenshot]
  • macOS: Firefox > History > Clear History
  • macOS: Firefox > Preferences > Privacy > History > Clear history when Firefox closes (Settings: browsing, downloads)
  • macOS: Chrome > Clear Browsing Data
  • barney and clydeiOS: Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data (cookies, history, other data)
  • iOS: Settings > Safari > Frequently Visited Sites
  • [Refs]: "How to delete your Web browser history"
  • [Refs]: "You Can Be Prosecuted for Clearing Your Browser History"

[2] Search History / Suggestions

  • deathusually erased by Private Browsing
  • Before
  • macOS: Safari > Preferences > Search
  • macOS: Firefox > Preferences > Search
  • macOS: Firefox > Preferences > Privacy > History > Remember search and form history
  • macOS: Chrome > Preferences > Advanced > Privacy > Use a prediction service to help complete searches and URLs typed in the address bar or the app launcher search box; searches still saved and not clearable?
  • iOS: Settings > Safari > Search Engine Suggestions
  • After -- same as browsing history?
  • consider using alternate search engine, e.g., DuckDuckGo
  • see upcoming section: Browsing : Search Privately
  • some search engines, e.g., Google, store identifiable search history on server
  • [Refs]: "Erasing Your Google History"
  • some search engines support "right to be forgotten" -- submit a form on Bing or Google site

[2] Download History

  • bookstoreusually erased by Private Browsing -- though files may still be Downloads
  • Before
  • macOS: Safari > General > Remove Download List Items (time) [screenshot]
  • macOS: Chrome > Preferences > Advanced > Privacy > Content Settings > Automatic Downloads
  • After -- same as browsing history?
  • macOS: Safari > Show Downloads (far right icon)l > Clear
  • macOS: Firefox > Tools > Downloads > Clear Downloads
  • macOS: Chrome > Clear Browsing Data

[2] Caches: Pages & Images

  • cacheusually erased by Private Browsing and utilities
  • Before
  • macOS: Firefox > Preferences > Advanced > Network > Cached / Offline Content
  • After -- same as browsing history?
  • macOS: Safari: shift+click on the Refresh page button -- clears cache for only that page
  • macOS: Safari > Preferences > Advanced > Show Develop menu in menu bar -- add Develop menu
  • macOS: Safari > Develop > Empty Caches

[3] Browser Statistics

  • may be useful to vendors for bug fixes and improvements
  • macOS: System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Diagnostics & Usage
  • macOS: Firefox > Preferences > Advanced > Data Choices
  • macOS: Chrome > Preferences > Advanced Settings > Privacy > Automatically send usage statistics and crash reports to Google

References

Bookmarks / Favorites

Cookies

Google

History

iOS

macOS

Microsoft

Private Browsing

Tracking