Windows 7 & Internet Explorer: Privacy Settings and Cleanup

Here are some easy tricks that I found to be very helpful in maintaining at least some sort of privacy and security for life on the internet (Note: This is in addition to keeping Windows, anti-virus software, Java, Flashplayer, etc. updated).

 

Smartphones:

If you use a smartphone (and a lot of apps) for everything you do on line, and if you have it with you wherever you go, you no longer have any privacy.

 

Traveling overseas with a computer:

Assume that everything you have on your computer will be copied, either while you’re in the foreign country, or as you are being questioned at the airport.

Be prepared! Don’t have anything on your computer that you do not want to give away (financial documents, your latest technology, etc.).

Anything you “deleted” is still on the computer hard drive, and is easily retrievable, until you “wipe” it with software like Window Washer that overwrites (and destroys) deleted files.

 

IP Addresses

If you have internet service without a fixed IP address—as is the case with most low-end broadband plans—your internet service provider will assign you a random IP address each time your modem is switched on. Websites and everybody out there, including Google, track IP addresses. So, to render this sort of tracking worthless, switch off your modem when you go to bed. In the morning, you’ll get another randomly assigned IP address. Tracking by IP has to start over again….

If you have internet service with a fixed IP address, you will be tracked by your IP address, for however many years you have that IP address, and there is nothing you can do about it.

 

Crucial Security Setting:

In Windows 7, set up a “User account” and check “Standard.” This is the single most important thing you can do for the security of your computer. It limits what can be installed on your hard drive (Start, control panel, user accounts, follow instructions).

 

Privacy Settings:

IE9, IE10, and E11 (hopefully, you don’t have IE8 anymore): use InPrivate modes each time you get on the internet.

“InPrivate Browsing helps prevent Internet Explorer from storing data about your browsing session. This includes cookies, temporary Internet files, history, and other data. Toolbars and extensions are disabled by default.” So, when you close the browser, it’s all gone. It’s an excellent privacy tool.

If you don’t want one website to know what you did before, just close all browser windows, and then open browser in InPrivate mode.

– The slow way: open IE, click the tool icon, open Safety menu, click “InPrivate Browsing

– The fast way: press these three keys simultaneously: Shift, Crtl, P

 

Configure IE once and for all:

Browser Cookies:

Click on the tool icon, Internet Options, Privacy, and Advanced. Then check “Override automatic cookie handling,” check “accept” for First-party cookies, “block” Third-party cookies.

– ALWAYS block third-party cookies. They’re pure spyware by unrelated websites. You don’t ever need them for anything.

– First-party cookies, however, are essential for many websites to function properly.

– Closing the browser if you were using the InPrivate mode deletes all cookies.

Browsing Histroy:

Click on the tool icon, Internet Options, General, check “Delete browsing history on exit.”

 

Daily Cleanup:

Perform once a day, and also before and after using sites with confidential info (e.g. your bank).

You can use software like “Window Washer” (easy, and provides useful additional functions, but it costs $). Careful: there are “free” programs circulating that are actually spyware. So, check them out before you download them.

Or you can use browser and system tools already on your computer:

Browser – IE9 and IE10:

– The Slow way: Tools, Internet Options, General: click “Delete”, uncheck “Preserve Favorite website data,” check everything else, click “delete.”

– The fast way: press these three keys simultaneously: Shift, Crtl, D

 

Configure Firebox once and for all:

In Firefox, open pull-down menu on left, choose “Options,” click on “Options,” click on “Privacy,”

– check “Tell websites I do not want to be tracked”
– check “Always use private browsing mode”
– check “Accept cookies from sites”
– and uncheck “Accept third-party cookies.”

Now the browser opens in private browsing mode by default. Every time you close the browser, it will “forget” cookies and other data about your browsing session.

Final step: click on Security tab, check the top three boxes.

 

System Tools:

– Start Menu, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Cleanup, click “OK”

– Start Menu, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Cleanup, click “Clean up system files” and “OK”

Note: using browser and system tools to clean computer only “deletes” items, but does not erase them. They remain on your hard drive. Programs like Window Washer actually overwrite them and destroy them.

 

Flash Player Cookies

For more on the nasty cookie-like LSO files (“Local Shared Objects”) that Adobe Flash Player puts on your drive, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_Shared_Object. But you can do something about them.

Flash Player Settings Manager:

1. To delete Flash Player cookies

— You do this once, and after you change the settings as per #2 below, you occasionally check on it and delete any items that might still have been placed there.

Note: Must “Show hidden files” (IE8: Tools, Folder Options, View, click “Show hidden files”)

Note:  DO NOT DELETE “settings.sol” at bottom of list; it contains your settings from the Flash Player Settings Manager)

Procedure: Delete Flash Cookies (delete the folder of the named company) from two places, in Windows Explorer:

— C:\Users\{your username}\Application Data\Roaming\Macromedia\Flash Player\Shared Objects\(series of random letters in caps). Delete all folders and files (if you seesettings.sol, don’t delete it)

— C:\Users\{ your username}\Application Data\Roaming\Macromedia\macromedia.com \support\ flashplayer\ sys \ #local … Delete all folders and files except settings.sol

2. To delete items and change settings (you do this only once):

www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager02.html

This requires some thought. I suggest: don’t allow Third Party flash content. Don’t allow flash cookies, don’t allow flash to turn on the camera remotely, in fact, come to think of it, don’t allow anything….

 

JAVA Cleanup:

GO TO: Control Panel, Java, General, Temporary Internet Files – Settings:

— 1. click: delete files, check all options, click OK

— 2. uncheck: “keep temporary files on my computer”

— 3. click OK

 

SILVERLIGHT Clean up:

In your browser, open any Silverlight app, right click on it, and choose “Silverlight” option. Go to “Application Storage” tab.

— Disable application storage.

— Delete all content at once or content for selected site

 

Additional Scans:

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool — full scan

Start menu, in search box, enter “command prompt,” click on “Click to open command prompt,” type “mrt” and hit return. In dialogue box, click “yes.” In MRT, click “Next.” Choose “Full Scan”

(Note: Only “quick scan” is done during Windows update).

For comments, corrections, or additional ideas, contact me through the Contact tab.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on RedditPrint this pageEmail this to someone