Internet users today have two major concerns: privacy and security. Today we are going to focus on achieving greater anonymity. In case you don’t know, when we browse the Internet we leave a digital footprint. Through cookies and trackers, companies, ISPs, government agencies and more can learn about our activity. For this reason, the use of a VPN or an anonymous proxy has grown a lot in recent years. However, we have other simpler alternatives that can help us achieve anonymity, such as browser add-ons. In this article, we are going to learn about the Startpage browser extension to protect privacy and we will learn how to configure it.
Start page installation
Startpage Browser Extension is a new privacy-focused search engine browser add-on Startpage. It should be noted that it has been created with two main purposes:
- Rate the privacy of visited web pages. 5 would be the highest degree of privacy and 1 the lowest degree of anonymity.
- Allow Internet users more privacy-related controls to reduce or eliminate the monitoring of our activity.
It should be noted that the Startpage browser extension has been officially released for Firefox and Chrome. However, it should be noted that it can also be installed on compatible browsers such as Microsoft Edge, Vivaldi, Opera or Brave. This browser addon will change your browser’s default search engine to Startpage Search. In that aspect there is no way to prevent the change from happening. That is why it is normal that you see a poster like this after the installation in Google Chrome, which is the one in which we have installed it:
This is an example in which it is seen that the web page has a good reputation and is not very intrusive in terms of tracking, having a score of 4 out of 5. In the add-on icon, in case you do not have it displayed, it will indicate the score of each website. You also have indicated how to access the main configuration options.
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Here we would have another example with low privacy and a score of 1. Also, if we click on the button Manage trackers & cookies we would see the following options:
In this section we will be able to decide which trackers we allow and if we want it to block cookies or everything. On the other hand, in the first section we indicate the option «Settings» with which we will access other settings.
In the tab «privacy» we have to talk about 3 options:
- Sending Global Privacy control: sends global privacy control signals to websites and tells them not to track us.
- Disable hyperlink auditing: Block link tracking using this feature.
- Disable prefectching: prevents the browser from previously obtaining data that it thinks we are going to use.
The next tab is called Allow list which translated means allowed list. Here we have the option to add web pages and the extension will not block anything.
The last tab is trackers, which refers to trackers. All known crawlers supported by the Startpage extension are listed here. In this place we will be able to modify the default values of the Startpage browser extension for each individual tracker.
The Startpage browser extension when active will allow us to block trackers and cookies. In addition, the privacy score it offers us can be useful for inexperienced users who have never dealt with privacy issues.
However, this plugin has a couple of limitations. The first is that it is going to change the default search engine for Startpage, which is not convenient for some users. The second thing to consider is that it doesn’t have an option to add trackers to the list it supports. In short, the Startpage browser extension is a good option for achieving anonymity as long as you don’t mind changing your search engine.