How to use Firefox’s tools to protect your privacy while browsing

Like most browsers today, Firefox has made changes to try to answer users’ calls for more online privacy. This includes blocking default third-party trackers as well as a VPN it calls the Firefox private network.

Firefox provides a number of tools to protect you from tracking by first-party cookies (which are typically used for things like remembering your login information) and third-party tracking cookies (which are often used by advertisers and others to collect information and track your online behavior). Below are step-by-step instructions on how to adjust the settings to maximize protection from cookies or eliminate them entirely. We also look at how Firefox handles fingerprints, which follows you by aggregating small details about your system configuration and creating an identifiable “fingerprint”.

Keep in mind that any privacy issues that Firefox does not handle can be resolved by using extensions and applications.

Firefox has blocked default trackers since September 2019 using a customizable feature called Enhanced Tracking Protection. However, the improved tracking protection does not block all third-party trackers; it blocks trackers on the Disconnect list, which is a list of known trackers. It also blocks all cross-site tracking cookies, but allows proprietary cookies by default.

You can check if the enhanced tracking protection is enabled by checking the small shield icon to the left of the address bar. If the icon is purple, Firefox blocks trackers. If it is gray, there is no tracker to block. If it is gray and crossed out, tracking protection is disabled for this site.


You can quickly enable or disable Enhanced Tracking Protection by clicking on the shield icon; the first line in the drop-down box will let you toggle it on or off. If you want to make more specific tweaks, you can do that as well.

Click on the shield icon, and then select “Cross-Site Tracking Cookies” to see which cookies Firefox is blocking


Click the “Manage protection settings” link at the bottom of this list. You can also access the following menu by going to “Options” and clicking on “Confidentiality and security”.
Either one will take you to the Enhanced Tracking Protection page where you can choose standard, strict or custom protection. (This last parameter allows you to specify the trackers blocked by Firefox.)


There are other ways to customize your security settings from the Enhanced Tracking Protection page:

Scroll down to “Cookies and Site Data” and click the “Manage Data …” button. Click on the name of a site and then on the “Delete selection” button to delete all cookies left by a specific site. You can also delete all cookies stored on your browser by clicking on the “Delete all” button.



Click the “Manage Permissions …” button under “Cookies and Site Data” to customize the settings for particular websites. Enter a website, then click “Block”, “Allow session” or “Allow”.
To delete cookies and other data currently stored by your browser, click on “Clear data”. A window will open – make sure the box next to “Cookies and site data” is checked, then click “Clear”. A second window will appear; click “Clear Now” to continue.
You can also check “Delete cookies and site data when Firefox is closed”.

Firefox is currently experimenting with a feature called Fingerprint Protection, which warns you if a site is trying to extract data (which is possible for the purpose of creating a fingerprint). It also examines a number of other factors that could be detected and used by a fingerprint, such as your keyboard layout and time zone.

The Firefox instructions page warns that trying Fingerprinting Protect now could “degrade your web experience”. That said, if you want to try:

Type about: config in the address bar and click on the button to indicate that you accept the risk
Click on the “Show all” link that appears above the next warning
You will get a long list of parameters. Use the upper search box to find “privacy.resistFingerprinting”.


If the parameter is of normal type and labeled “false”, click the toggle button on the right to activate it. (If it is already bold and labeled “true,” it is possible, according to Facebook, that one of your extensions has already activated the feature.)

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