In this time of digital transparency and data breaches, it’s more important than ever to feel like you have some control over your personal privacy. Whether you are shopping for shoes online or digging deep in the dark web for information, you deserve to have your online activities secure and private. Using Google Chrome’s privacy settings, you can do just that.
Updated Browser Privacy Settings
On the heels of FTC violations and massive fines, Google has made changes to its Chrome browser privacy settings to help consumers achieve the goal of protecting their online life. One of the most useful features is an automatic delete of user data on a schedule.
Some of the data that Chrome collects and sends to Google servers do useful things like allowing you to sync your bookmarks across all your devices. Therefore, carefully review each setting before you choose to use it or not.
At any time, if you just want to browse the web privately, open Chrome, go to the top menu and choose File > New incognito Window. According to Google, this new browser window is completely private. Bookmarks and downloads will be saved, however. During an incognito browser session Chrome will not save:
- Your browsing history
- Cookies and site data
- Information entered in forms
However, your online activity might still be visible to:
- Websites you visit
- Your employer or school
- Your internet service provider
How Do You Increase Privacy Settings in Chrome?
1. Choose Which Online Services Google Can Use
By default, Chrome uses web and app activity tracking to store and use your credit card data and location as well as serving up personalized ads just for you. Some people won’t want these items exposed or used by Google. Thankfully, you can turn them off easily by:
- Opening Chrome and going to Settings > Manage your Google Account
- On the left, choose Data and personalization
- Use the toggle switch to turn off Web and App Activity, Location History, and YouTube History.
2. Watch Your Credit Cards
Google Chrome attempts to save payment methods and uses Autofill to help when you make a purchase. However, this can expose your credit card data to cybercriminals. To turn this feature off:
- Open Chrome and go to Settings.
- Scroll down to Autofill.
Click on Payment methods.
Use the toggle switch to turn on/off Save and fill payment methods.
3. Set Up How Many Synchronization You Want
If you sign in with your Google account, Chrome will synchronize all your browsing data, history, and activity to your account. You can use this feature to swap between devices and use saved bookmarks anywhere you use Chrome. However, you may not want this. To turn this setting off completely:
- Open Chrome and go to Settings.
- The first thing you will see is your logged in account with a “Turn off” button next to it.
- Click the button to stop using your Google account to sync anything.
If you want instead to fine-tune your settings, expand the Sync feature just below that, and review the setting options. From inside here, you can control how your data is used and stored. You can also turn on/off information sent to Google and choose your encryption type.
4. Review App Permissions
When installing apps, is it automatic for us to hit “accept,” when the app requests permissions. Unfortunately, we don’t stop to consider what we just provided access to. Some apps request access to all the data in your Google account. It is imperative to check these settings periodically and revoke access to apps you are no longer using.
Go to any Google login page (Gmail, Analytics, Drive, etc.) and click the icon in the top-right corner. Then choose Manage Your Google Account. In the search bar at the top type in “third-party access.” This will show you a list of the apps and their permissions. You can revoke their access by clicking the blue “Revoke” button.
Other Essential Security Settings in Chrome
Google Chrome comes packed with other privacy settings that you will want to explore and configure according to your personal situation. To access the privacy and security settings in Chrome:
Go to Settings.
On the left-hand menu, choose Advanced > Privacy and security.
You will see the list of privacy settings below.
In the Site Settings area, there is another big list.
A couple of important things to turn off/on in there are Cookies and site data, Location, Camera, and Pop-ups, and redirects. Be careful when allowing your camera, microphone, and location to be used without your permission. The best setting for each of these is, “Ask before accessing.
It’s up to you whether or not you want to allow sites to store cookies on your machine. It makes logging into a website easier but also leaves you at risk.
Be sure to turn on 2-factor authentication on your Google account so no one can gain access without your code.
It’s also a good idea from time to time to clear the cookies in your browser. It helps to keep your computer clean but remember, you will lose all saved logins.