...Newbee: Hardening FF

Hi
I’m very new Privacy.
After watching a number of privacy videos, I found my way here.
Thank you.

I followed the instruction to harden FF.
Privacy Addons
WebRTC
about:config tweeks

It was very overwhelming for me.
Many of the sites I normally visit were no longer accessible to me.
I couldn’t make a purchase on Amazon, etc.
I didn’t know how to use the hardened FF and I had no idea how to resolve issues with sites I normally visit.

I’m sure that this has already been discussed on the forum and I hope someone could point me to those existing threads.

In the meantime as I continue to learn about extension and how to best manage them and about:config, etc., is there a hardening “lite” that will offer me increased protection as an interim solution?

Thank you so much for your help.

Stay safe!

First of all, welcome and thanks for demonstrating the downsides of changing the defaults of today’s web browsers.

It is crucial to understand that the features in web browsers weren’t implemented to track users, but can be misused to track users. So there are totally legitimate use cases for JavaScript, WebRTC, and cookies; however, they can be misused to identify single systems.

The same is true for many other web browser features and things that are often forgotten like HTML pings, redirect tracking, the Network Error Logging header, the HSTS header, the way your web browser interacts with the web server in general, or your browsing behavior.

You likely blocked essential features like cookies and JavaScript that are needed by many websites to work. For instance, cookies are needed to store the contents of digital shopping carts or login information. If you disable cookies, you can’t log in anymore and online shopping is history.

Therefore, you should try to understand what you disable in your web browser or which add-on you are installing. Arbitrarily disabling features or installing add-ons may actually lead to less privacy and less security.

Hello and welcome to the forums!

You will have to be a little patient when changing things, unfortunately the modern web today relies too much in features that are sadly misused for tracking, therefore as you have experienced many websites will not work properly.

Don’t get discouraged though, I’m glad you were willing to give it a try and hopefully having a better understanding (which will come with time) will make you even more eager to explore new settings, add-ons, etc.

As an actionable advise, you can create a separate Firefox profile for experimenting and use the default one for online shopping, banking, and everything else that you need to use but is otherwise broken due to the settings tweaking. If you have never heard of profiles, you can manage them right in your browser by typing this up at the address bar: about:profiles

You should have one profile created by default already, and from there you can Create a New Profile, rename, delete, etc… choose which profile you want to use by clicking on Launch profile in new browser; as the name suggests you will have a separate window of Firefox running, with it’s own particular settings, add-ons, etc that you can modify as you wish.

Feel free to ask any questions!

Hello @ethan417 , happened to me too when I discovered Privacytools.io website some years ago and tried to do everything in FireFox recommendations without understanding what I was exactly doing. While you are learning what each option does in Firefox etc… what you can start to do for your Firefox is to have a look (or even use) https://ffprofile.com
This website does create a custom Firefox profile for you(which is a file that you download and place inside you Firefox user’s “profiles” folder) : you can create a normal one or a privacy oriented one. Have a try selecting “privacy” and clicking on “Next” and the following page will display all the possible options with each one have a quick explanation of what it does under it --> that will give you a better understanding of each thing.
Then if you want to use it you can tick/untick each option that you want to activate for your profile, create it, download it and install it.

Keep in mind that using a third-party (here a website) to create your Firefox profile has some downsides : people can say that you are not sure of what this third party is doing with your information, you can’t be sure of what the file you download and install at the end exactly has in it (in theory it could contain a malware or anything else in addition to the profile), you can’t be sure if it doesn’t change other options of FF, etc. so that’s why from a strict privacy and security point of view it’s always better to do everything by yourself. BUT… before being able to do everything by yourself you have to start somewhere. And I think https://ffprofile.com is a good start : it’s code is on Github for everyone to see what it exactly does, it’s a well know website which is there since some years now, and it’s a good way to learn by yourself trying to create different profiles and see what are the differences in terms of usability.