Safe Browsing: 15. How I Browse

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15. How I Browse

IE8 is my default browser and the browser most HASA visitors use. Most of what I do here you can also do if Firefox is your default browser, and I suspect Chrome, Opera and Safari all offer comparable controls. If you are on XP with IE, you will not be able to use Protected Mode. If you run Firefox, no matter your OS, you will not have Protected Mode.

This is the status bar at the bottom of the IE window. I use it a lot.

The first thing I do is I click the "InPrivate" filtering button in the status bar at the bottom of the browser window so filtering is turned on. It's the icon with the little green arrow. (If you are running Firefox, this protection is not built in, but the AdBlock Plus add-on provides much of this functionality.) You can see from the status bar that Protected Mode is "On" and that I am in the "Internet" browser zone. The Privacy Report icon can be double clicked to show me what has or hasn't been blocked from the site.

Privacy Controls

In this case, I'm on the LA Times web site. What you are seeing is a list of all the things in the web page and where they come from – the cookies, the images, the JavaScript and so forth. This list shows me just the sites whose cookies I have blocked.

If I use the drop-down menu to see all sites, the list gets longer.

Now you can see the blocked cookies plus images that aren't blocked.

If I see a site that I don't recognize, I can select it, click "Summary" and review its privacy policy. Most don't have any, and I block all advertisers' and click trackers' cookies.

When I visit a website I haven't been to before and it tries to put cookies on my machine, I get notified.

It tells me which web site is trying to hand me a cookie and allows me to allow or block the cookie or all cookies. It also allows me to see more information about the cookie.

Clicking "More Info" gives me all of the background information about the cookie.

I can see the name, the site it is coming from, the expiration date, whether it is encrypted, if it is a 3rd Party cookie and if it is a session cookie.

If the site has a compact privacy policy, it will show here.

In most cases, I check the checkbox and I block the cookies.

Turn Flash On and Off

I'm also happy to browse the internet without Flash turned on.  If there is something I really want to see, I click the Manage Add-ons button in the tool bar or double click the Manage Add-ons icon in the Status bar depending on whether I'm at the top or the bottom of the page, find Adobe Shockwave Flash Object in the list and click the "Enable" button in the bottom right corner of the dialog box. After I view what I want to see, I repeat the process to disable it again. Everything runs faster with Flash off.

Add Trusted and Restricted Sites

If I am on a site that I want to add to either my Restricted or my Trusted site lists, I just double click the Status bar where it says "Internet" (remember, the default zone is Internet). A dialog box pops up and shows me the Security page.

I click on the Trusted Sites icon, and then I click on the "Sites" button under the zone icons.

In this case, I'm going to add HASA as a trusted site.

The dialog box automatically populates the Add field with the name of the site I am on.

Here's a little trick. I change the URL in the Add box to have an asterisk at the beginning of the name, instead of http://www .

Why did I do this? Because I want to trust all variations of this site domain. Some sites have names that don't start with www, and an asterisk is a wildcard to allow all the different names to work. This happens a lot with financial sites who have sub domains like customer.bankname.com, ww2.bankname.com, account.bankname.com, customerservice.bankname.com. Use the asterisk to add them all in one shot.

I click "Add" and now the HASA is in my Trusted Sites zone.

The same thing works with Restricted sites, except that I'm adding the site so it is always treated with distrust. This is what I do with sites that serve up advertisements, but also sites that often have malware, like Facebook, My Space, Wordpress, Typepad, and Blogger/Blogspot. It doesn't mean they are blocked; it just means they can't do anything without me knowing about it.

InPrivate Browsing

Many jokes in bad taste are made about the private browsing mode that is part of all major browsers these days because it has been seen as a way to avoid detection that you have been looking at porn sites. This is unfortunate because the real value of the private browsing mode is to prevent sensitive data from being observed by anything else on your machine and not just someone looking over your shoulder. The private browsing mode isolates your session information and then deletes it when the browser window closes. This makes it the best mode for using with any site where you are accessing financial, medical or personal information.

When I visit a site where I am going to access financial or personal data, such as a bank or a medical site, or where I am making purchases, such as Amazon or PayPal, I turn on InPrivate Browsing.  You can do this three ways:

  • Click the Security button in the icon bar and select InPrivate Browsing
  • Select "InPrivate Browsing" from the Tools menu in the main menu bar
  • If you are a Keyboard Commando: CTRL + SHIFT + P (This works in Firefox, too!)

A new window opens that looks like this:

Here are some common sense rules about accessing a site where you will handle sensitive data:

  • Type your URL directly into the address bar or else from a bookmark in your browser.
  • Do NOT use a link in an email.
  • Do NOT use a link from another web page.
  • Log in, conduct your business, log out and CLOSE YOUR BROWSER.

Ending Your Browsing Session

I close my browser window when I am done. This may be the single easiest security step to take. When you shut down your browser, you release the memory and kill anything that may be running in it.


This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Anglachel

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: Other

Genre: Research Article

Rating: General

Last Updated: 06/19/10

Original Post: 06/14/10

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