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How to boost your browser's privacy with DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials

It's easy to enhance the security and privacy of your favorite web browser. Here's how.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer

Privacy has become an issue for nearly every person on the planet. Given how many people depend on web browsers every day for work, communication, connection, and entertainment, the security of those tools has become tantamount to the privacy of user information.

Unfortunately, not every browser is capable of handling security in a way that can keep our data out of the hands of those who should not see it.

What can you do?

Thanks to DuckDuckGo, there's an add-on available for every major browser on the market, and it can greatly enhance built-in security measures. That add-on is called DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials.

What does DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials do? Here's the shortlist:

  • Shows you at-a-glance information on how much a site can be trusted.
  • Forces sites to use encrypted connections (when available).
  • Blocks nearly all trackers.
  • Keeps your search history private.

If you know anything about privacy, you should immediately understand how important that list is. And if you're not sure if you can trust your desktop web browser of choice, it's time you give it a much-needed privacy boost.

Also: How to use confidential mode in Gmail to protect sensitive information

So, how do you add the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials add-on to your web browser of choice? It's actually much easier than you might think. And given the benefit you gain from the extension, this should be a no-brainer for everyone.

Let's install DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials.

Installing DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials

1. Open your web browser of choice

First, you must open your web browser of choice. Once the browser is open, you're ready to install.

Also: What, exactly, is cybersecurity? And why does it matter?

2. Head over to the required site

I'm going to demonstrate with Firefox. If you don't use Firefox, here are the links for the extension for the most common browsers:

Let's get this extension installed on Firefox. With Firefox open, point it to the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials add-on page and click Add to Firefox. You will then be prompted (again) to Add the extension. Once the extension has been added, you'll see a small green circle added to your toolbar.

The DuckDuckGo Firefox add-on installation popup.

Installing DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials in Firefox.

Image: Jack Wallen

Also: Caught up in another password breach? Follow these 3 rules to protect yourself online

Using DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials

Now that the extension is installed, how do you use it? Simple. Point your browser to a website and you'll immediately see the green circle change to a letter. That letter is the grade given to the site. 

The DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials popup menu.

The DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials add-on in action on Firefox.

Image: Jack Wallen

As you can see, the Firefox add-ons site received a B+ from the extension. If you click that icon, you can expand any of the sections to view more details. From that same popup, you can also disable Site Privacy Protection for that site. If you find that a particular site stops behaving properly after adding the extension, you'll want to go back and disable the add-on for that site. 

Also: How to give Safari a privacy boost with DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials

If you do disable the extension for a site, it will ask you if the site is broken. It's important that you offer that feedback to help the DuckDuckGo developers improve the product. Additionally, if you find the extension does break a site, open the popup and click Report Broken Site at the bottom to help the developers improve the functionality.

And that's really all there is to installing and using the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials add-on. This addition goes a long way to improve the privacy and security of your default web browser, and I highly recommend you add it sooner rather than later.

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