Three tools to stop companies spying on your web browsing

Three tools to stop companies spying on your web browsing

Summary: Want to limit the ability of companies to track what sites you visit online? Check out these tools that shut down common ways used to track browsing habits.

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TOPICS: Software
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  • Companies routinely watch what what we do online and build profiles of our likes and dislikes that can be mined for profit.

    The Mozilla Foundation recently released the Lightbeam add-on that allows users to keep tabs on which sites are tracking their browsing habits and how they interact with sites.

    Although Lightbeam allows users to block sites that are tracking them, there are tools that make it even easier to stop companies from watching your online activities.

    Here are three apps for browsers that make it more difficult for online activity to be monitored by companies, although it's worth remembering that technology used to track online behaviour is constantly evolving.

    Ghostery

    Ghostery is a browser tool that allows web users to watch who they are being tracked by and block attempts to monitor them.

    Ghostery places a button on the toolbar bar. Clicking this button displays a drop down menu that lists all of the companies operating activity tracking scripts on the current website. Users can block each company from tracking them, either on the current site or across all sites, by clicking a button next to the company name.

    As well as blocking scripts that interact with cookies or web bugs, Ghostery can block code that loads part of a site, for instance a comment section.

    Ghostery keeps a log of companies running scripts on sites you visit and sorts them into a browsable menu under the heading of Advertising, Analytics, Beacons, Privacy and Widgets. This menu can be used to block or allow scripts from these companies.

    Sites can also be white-listed to enable them to run tracking scripts that are blocked on other sites.

    Ghostery is available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer, as well as a standalone app available for iOS.

  • DoNotTrackMe

    DoNotTrackMe (DNTMe) is another tool for web browsers that collates who is tracking your browsing habits and blocks them.

    Unlike Ghostery, which allows users to select which companies to block, DNTMe automatically blocks the majority of attempts to track a user. DNTMe blocks companies based on a list of hundreds of web server addresses used by advertising and other companies that track users. DNTMe stops the browser from communicating with these addresses.

    DNTMe places a button in the toolbar that can be clicked to display a menu showing which companies are attempting to track you and which have been blocked. Users can find out more about some of the companies tracking them by clicking through to a guide written by DNTMe creators Abine. A graph in the menu displays how many times the tool has blocked an attempt to connect to a tracking company.

    Like Ghostery, users can unblock companies from tracking them either on a particular site or on all sites.

    DNTMe is available for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on desktop computers. DNTMe doesn't collect data about your browsing behaviour.

     

Topic: Software

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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5 comments
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  • Thanks

    I love Noscript but I'll have to check out Ghostery and DoNotTrackMe.
    ITGuy000
  • I recommend disconnect

    it's quite similar to ghostery but I like it better
    theoilman
  • I use four add-ons

    Ghostery, NoScript, Adblock and Better Privacy
    Calpiko
  • 404

    Your "released the Lightbeam add-on" link (linking to http://www.zdnet.com/story/create/) results in a 404 for the layman.
    harperville
    • Thanks

      That should be fixed now.
      Nick Heath