Protect your online privacy with Ghostery

Over the past several weeks, a lot has been made of privacy, and perhaps with good reason. The basic premise has seemingly been trampled by multiple  governments across the globe, and there are few ways for the average citizen to shield themselves from this intrusion.

There are minor ways in which users can attempt to protect themselves, and today I wanted to look at one of those in an effort to protect the basic rights of every internet user. Today we will take a brief look at just one option designed with your best interest at heart — Ghostery. The app proclaims “Ghostery tracks over 1,400 trackers and gives you a roll-call of the ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers, and other companies interested in your activity”.

Grab the Extension

Ghostery makes extensions available for all major browsers, simply head over to the site to grab the appropriate extension — Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera are all supported, as is iOS.

download page

For purposes of this overview, I will be using Chrome, which is my browser of choice on most occasions, though I sometimes stray for Firefox or Opera.

Once Installed

A tab will open automatically to explain what you are getting, as well as providing a quick walk-through of the service. “Ghostery looks for third-party page elements (or “trackers”) on the web pages you visit. These can be things like social network widgets, advertisements, invisible pixels used for tracking and analytics, and so on. Ghostery notifies you that these things are present, and which companies operate them. You can learn more about these companies, and if you wish, choose to block the trackers they operate”.

setup wizard

The wizard walks you through the entire setup process. This includes enabling (or disabling) certain aspects of the extension. For instance, you can allow anonymous data to be sent to Ghostery — this is opt-in, not the dreaded opt-out. You will also have to enable auto-update, while alerts are enabled by default, but still provide an option to disable.

Once these steps are safely behind you then it is time to set your real options — again all are opt-in. From this page you can elect to block advertising, analytics, beacons and widgets. I recommend enabling each and every feature.

tracker blocking

Now that setup is complete, you can easily access the extension from the menu contained within the toolbar (it is located to the right of the URL bar).

extension interface

Yyou are officiallyup and running and, at least somewhat, protected from the evils of the current world we live in. The rest, of course is entirely up to you, as most of this comes straight down to user behavior. Be safe and take precautions where you can.

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