6 ways to boost Google Chrome’s privacy and security settings

By | 06/08/2016

If you’re running Google Chrome, you should already feel like your privacy is secure. Google Chrome’s privacy and security are already top-notch. Google is constantly updating the Chrome browser with security, privacy, and innovative updates- including a push to make all sites use HTTPS connections (which basically means all sites send and retrieve your data over super secure data connections). Google Chrome’s privacy settings are already very secure right from the get-go, but there’s always a way to make Google Chrome even more private, and even more secure for your web-surfing, net-browsing, Internet-based pleasure.

 

In this quick guide, I’ll tell you about a few techniques you can use to really boost Google Chrome’s privacy and security functions.

How to make Google Chrome more private and secure

First things first, let’s do the most obvious task to stay secure on Chrome- update Google Chrome for the newest Chrome security and privacy updates.

  1. Click on the hamburger menu on the top right
  2. Click on Help > About Google Chrome
  3. Then click on the “check for updates” button
  4. If an update is found, go ahead and update Chrome
  5. If not, then good job

Next, we’ll check out Google Chrome’s privacy settings.

  1. Click on the hamburger menu
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Scroll down and click on “advanced settings”
  4. Go to Privacy
  5. Here you’ll see a list of checkboxes that you can tick to turn on or off. It’s really up to you to choose what you need depending on what you do on Chrome. For example, if you type professional works, you may want to tick the option to use a spellchecker. Then again, if you do this, Google Chrome will use an outside service to read and correct what you type. I suggest choosing only what you need and that’s it.
  6. Make sure to tick the “send a do-not-track…” and “protect me from dangerous sites…”  options. These two options are ones you’ll want in order to stay secure on Chrome and safeguard your privacy on Chrome as well.

Google Chrome’s built-in security settings

Google Chrome's security settings are excellent, but you can make Chrome even more secure and private.

Google Chrome’s security settings are excellent, but you can make Chrome even more secure and private.

By default, Chrome has some nifty security settings to guard you from dangerous sites. Google has automated bots that detect and blacklist dangerous sites, and you’ll be warned before you can visit one of these sites when surfing the ‘net using Chrome. Each browser tab you open is also sandboxed, meaning that each site you open is basically quarantined and stops any malicious site from shutting down your whole PC. Google Chrome’s privacy and security settings by default does this for you.

Advertiser tracking and Google Chrome’s privacy


However, there’s not really much anything stopping Chrome and advertisers from getting your information. Privacy is a whole different story. Did you know that while you browse the web, everything you search for, read, download, and otherwise visit or access is logged by Chrome and/or advertisers? That’s exactly why if you, for example, browsing for a new laptop earlier, and then you visit a site completely unrelated to laptops, but then see an ad about laptops- maybe the exact model you were looking at.

This is done by advertiser trackers that read your every move online and basically serve ads that are relevant to you. It’s not bad practice that Chrome allows this. In fact, every browser pretty much does this since it’s important to the online ecosystem and generates a lot of revenue that sustains your favorite services- such as Google itself, YouTube, ecommerce shops, blogs, magazines, and anything else that you see ads on pretty much. It’s a “normal” part of using a web browser- with Chrome included. It’s no exception. Google Chrome’s privacy isn’t going to hide your data from Google itself.

But, there are steps you can take to block advertisers from tracking you.

Privacy Badger for your Chrome’s Privacy

Privacy Badger enhances Google Chrome's privacy.

Privacy Badger enhances Google Chrome’s privacy.

The first step to boost your privacy on Chrome is to install an app for your Chrome browser- Privacy Badger.

This is made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and is trusted by millions of Chrome users (and other browsers) around the world. When you download this, it’ll block trackers and gives you the option to accept some cookies and whitelist (approve) some sites as well. This will give Google Chrome’s privacy settings a makeover.

Give Google Chrome privacy a boost

HTTPS Everywhere makes Google Chrome more private and secure.

HTTPS Everywhere makes Google Chrome more private and secure.

The next step is to boost your security on Chrome.

Download the HTTPS Everywhere app made by the EFF. This basically forces your installation of Google Chrome to use the HTTPS connection to all the sties you visit on the ‘net.

With this added to Chrome, some sites that you usually use may not work correctly- these sites are pretty much sites that don’t have the HTTPS security by default- and you should let them know about it. You can simply disable the plugin for these sites to get them working as usual. If you click on the app icon, you can see exactly what’s going on and the connection type. If you click on the icon for Privacy Badger and you can see what trackers were place don your computer and options for blocking or allowing them. Your instance of Chrome will get a privacy boost.

You can also click on the paper icon (or the lock) on Chrome’s address bar to see what exactly the site is doing to Google Chrome. You can see cookies, downloads, plugins, popups, MIDI control, and some other basic insights.

Let’s face it, Google knows a lot about your online activities. Everything from Google search, to YouTube, to Google Docs, Drive, and Maps, all your activity is logged securely within Google’s servers. Your privacy on Google Chrome is only private to third-party sites, but not Google itself. Google Chrome’s privacy settings can be altered by routing your searches and data through the search engine you use.

Using a crowd-based website rating system on Chrome

WoT is community-driven for extra security and privacy on Google Chrome.

WoT is community-driven for extra security and privacy on Google Chrome.

Web of Trust (WoT) is like a huge directory of online ratings for websites. Every site you visit will have a positive or negative rating- depending on ratings from other users. This is useful since it shows others have been to the site before you have and have rated it, so you can get a good idea of how safe the website is when you check it out. This doesn’t work well for sites that don’t have a lot of ratings, so it has it’s share of pros and cons. It has a high-rating on the Chrome web store, and is popular, so it’s an extra layer of security for browsing the Internet. It’ll give Google Chrome’s privacy a crowd-based boost.

Search using an engine that’s built for privacy

There are few search engines out there that are built just for privacy. Disconnect.me is one of them. They have a search engine at search.disconnect.me, which prevents anyone from sniffing out your information and blocks all advertising trackers. Although their search is secure, it is an extra step to go out to use a different search engine. Also, not all of their tools are secure, so be sure to check what you’re doing before you do it. Their tools are labeled as secure if they’re safe, so just double-check before you do anything. Disconnect.me is an advocate for Internet privacy, so their search engine is completely secure and private.

There’s no need to download anything to use it. Simply head on over and search like usual. They search using Google, so you don’t have to deal with any weird search results. Try it out if you don’t want to change your search engine. It’s an extra step for privacy on Chrome, but it’s much more safer than using regular Google for searches. If you don’t mind switching your search engine, then keep reading, as I have a tip for that as well. The benefit of using a different search engine is the privacy benefit on Chrome, and the fact that you don’t need to go to another website to do a basic search as you’d have to do with this method. Although, it’s really dependent on your preference.

Switch the default browser on Google Chrome for privacy

Use DuckDuckGo to give Chrome a privacy boost.

Use DuckDuckGo to give Chrome a privacy boost.

You can do a little bit to counteract this if you’re afraid for your privacy on Chrome. You can switch to a different search engine, which will at least keep your Google searches on Chrome private and secure.

To switch default search engines on Chrome, just right-click the address bar and click edit search engines. Choose DuckDuckGo and make your default search engine on Google Chrome. DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn’t log anything and is known to be secure. DuckDuckGo is similar to search.disconnect.me, as they’re both privacy advocates, however, you can use DuckDuckGo by default on Chrome without having to visit any additional website to perform a basic search. It’s a little different compared to Google, so if you don’t like, then go with using search.disconnect.me instead. It depends on your preference and what you’re using Chrome for to choose the more secure and private method. Either way, both of these methods will get your copy of Google Chrome’s privacy a nice beef up without having to pay anything nor download anything extra on your Chrome-enabled device.

Changing the DNS to make Google Chrome more secure

A final step you can take to safeguard your privacy and security on Google Chrome is to switch up your DNS server on Chrome browser. Your Internet service provider (ISP) may hold some information about you that you don’t know about. This is your Internet provider, such as AT&T, Verizon, etc. By default, Google Chrome routes your information through your ISP, and it’snot the most secure, nor private, setting on Google Chrome. By making changes on where your info is routed, you can make Google Chrome’s privacy safeguarding of your search data more secure.

You can change your DNS server by doing the following:

  1. Click on the hamburger menu on the top right of Chrome
  2. Click on Settings > Internet Connection
  3. Click on your network
  4. Click on the Network tab and choose “custom name servers”
  5. Type in following details from DNS Watch, an advocate for privacy online like EFF
  6. For Server 1: copy and paste 84.200.69.80
  7. For Server 2: copy and paste 84.200.70.40
  8. Click “disconnect”
  9. Click “connect”

This will reroute the traffic through DNS Watch, making Google Chrome’s privacy and browser settings more secure, and your privacy on Chrome much more safe.

Keep Chrome private by not giving away your information

Another step you can take is to limit where you submit your information online. Chrome offers you to save your information so you don’t to input it whenever you need to fill out  a form. If you share your device, you may want to disable this feature. You can also limit where you share your stuff online. If you go around giving away information about yourself, that’s the frontline of where information is leaked- by you, the user. If you’re careful about where you sign up, where you register, where you order from, where you log in, where you give out your phone number, you’ll probably stay more safe than any privacy app can offer. Practicing common sense and being diligent is the primary line of defense for security and privacy on Chrome. How you act and what you do on Chrome will be a blockade for malicious sites.

Make your Google Chrome more private and secure

These are all basic tips that anyone with Google Chrome can partake in to make Google Chrome more secure. These settings are easy to configure and doesn’t cost anything to make these changes. We should all do our part to make our web-browsing more secure and private. Make these simple changes on your copy of Chrome for a safer, more secure, and more private browsing experience. Hopefully you’ll take action.

By the way, you can make these changes on any device that’s running Google Chrome- whether it’s your PC, Mac, or Chromebook. Chromebooks by default already have tons of security benefits built-into the laptop, so consider that if you happen to be in the market for a Chromebook. Since the OS is Chrome itself, you’re protected on whether you’re browsing on the Chrome web browser or you’re offline. Chromebooks are well-known to be super secure as a major feature.

If you have any security or privacy tips for Google Chrome users, whether you’re experienced or not, please go ahead and share them in the comments.


About Andy Z.

Andy is a casual-hardcore Chrome OS fan and contributes to the site regularly. He likes computers, tech, sports cars, videogames, and of course, Chromebooks. Thinker. Introvert. Geek. You can find him on Twitter (@platytech), or send him an email (platy@platypusplatypus.com).

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