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Ad Block Plus & Incognito Mode

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If you don't want to be tracked online when you browse, use incognito mode. It bothers you that many sites work together to watch your internet movements, cross-referencing data and building behavioural profiles on you for marketing purposes. You find it discomforting that organizations you have never heard of know you intimately. But how can you stay hidden from them? How to stop internet tracking? Two browser addons that have risen in popularity precisely because of their ability to protect your identity while you surf are Ad Block Plus and Ghostery Chrome (also for Firefox, Safari and iOS). Let's look at the privacy protector tasks each perform, compare them and see whether it is best to use one over the other, both together or indeed something completely different.

ad block plus – how to stop web bugs

Though AdBlock Plus Chrome and Firefox are the most famous versions, this extension is available on all platforms, mobiles included: it is already the primary adblocker for Android (through mobile Firefox) and AdBlock Plus Safari covers all Mac computers as well as iOS.

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The Ad Block Plus extension is certainly the best known killer of web advertising, stopping some or all ads on the pages you view. But few users realize just how good it is for privacy as well. Adverts themselves carry a lot of IP tracker code, so when you disable the adverts, you also happen upon a means of how to stop internet tracking. You can even stop some viruses which are also delivered through ads. Nifty, huh?

Unlike other ad blocker extensions, Ad Block Plus prevents ads from even being downloaded to your machine, rather than simply blocking them after you have received them. This offers a necessary extra level of privacy and security protection. But Ad Block Plus does not effectively block ads and protect your privacy on its own. For full functionality, you need to add third party lists. Easy List and Fan Boy's list are the most popular and effective of these when it comes to how to stop internet tracking.

What Ad Block Plus is not, however, is a total privacy protector solution. For one, it cannot offer a means of how to stop first party tracking cookies from sites running Google Analytics – the most widely used tracking service. Analytics code (carried in first party HTTP cookies) is often delivered through important events like click, buttons and initialization routines. Easy List tried to block Analytics but was forced to drop the filters because sites simply stopped working. Sure – you may add Google Analytics to the filters yourself (google-analytics.com) but you will see for yourself just how much loss of site functionality occurs when Analytics is closed down.

All in all, Ad Block Plus is a great way to stop web bugs and third party cookies from entering your machine, but if sites are determined enough to monitor your activity, they just need to use Google Analytics through their own HTTP cookies and will be able to monitor your movements. Ad Block Plus running with the most conservative filters won't stop them. You should also consider always using the incognito mode, as an added security level, but not solely rely on it to encrypt your online traffic.

But don't worry, there are other ways of how to stop Google tracking.

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Written by: 
Robin Welles; internet security team, expats team