Beyond Incognito

2 minute read Modified:

Block your computer from making requests to known ad and malware servers.

I read an article on Medium titled How to encrypt your entire life in less than an hour. The article provided a number of tips for staying secure digitally. One of the tips was to use the Tor browser because popular browsers such as Safari and Chrome were not private enough – even in private mode.

What the author didn’t tell you was that it’s possible to increase your privacy without switching browsers using Dan Pollock’s hosts file. A quick look at the file describes exactly what it does…

Use this file to prevent your computer from connecting to selected internet hosts. This is an easy and effective way to protect you from many types of spyware, reduces bandwidth use, blocks certain pop-up traps, prevents user tracking by way of “web bugs” embedded in spam, provides partial protection to IE from certain web-based exploits and blocks most advertising you would otherwise be subjected to on the internet.

I’ve been using Dan’s hosts file for years, install it on all of my machines and encourage other to do the same. Not only does the hosts file do a great job blocking ads, it also improves privacy without forcing you to download a new browser.

If you go down the rabbit hole a little deeper you may notice Dan Pollock’s hosts file is incorporated as a subset of StevenBlack/hosts.

And if you’re on a mobile device and not able to update your hosts file, go beyond incognito with Firefox Focus, and pass on Tor.