The Hosts File

Every single day, countless individuals navigate the internet, believing they're doing so in anonymity. But the reality is quite different. What marketing agencies prefer to keep under wraps, I'm here to reveal. Your online activities are monitored as you traverse the virtual landscape this very moment. I'm not the one tracking you, but certain advertisers are.

These entities operate under the assumption that monitoring your online behavior is justifiable, all in the name of enhancing your browsing experience. They argue that by comprehensively understanding your interests and browsing patterns, they can tailor and present "better" advertisements to you.

What they conveniently omit is that they also trade your browsing data with third-party entities. They don't inform you about their capability to link your online activities directly to your personal identity. Essentially, what they fail to disclose is their blatant infringement upon your privacy.

What they often neglect to mention is that you have the power to counteract this. In the past, tools like the Hosts file and DNSKong were the go-to solutions. However, it's crucial to note that as technology advances, these methods have become somewhat outdated.

So what can we do?

Top 10 Steps to Online Privacy

Browser Extensions for Privacy

Browser Extensions for Privacy Image

Privacy Badger: Stops advertisers and websites from tracking your online behavior. Privacy Badger analyzes third-party domains on websites and blocks any potential trackers, enhancing your privacy while browsing the web. Learn more about it here.

uBlock Origin: Blocks ads that often track your activities. uBlock Origin provides advanced ad-blocking features, allowing you to customize your ad-blocking experience and contribute to community-driven filter lists. Visit their website for more information.

HTTPS Everywhere: Ensures secure, encrypted connections wherever possible. HTTPS Everywhere automatically redirects you to HTTPS versions of websites, protecting your data from potential eavesdropping. Find out more on their official site.

NoScript: Blocks potentially dangerous scripts on websites. NoScript allows you to selectively allow scripts only on trusted websites, preventing malicious activities and enhancing your online privacy. Get it from the official website.

Disconnect: Blocks tracking requests and enhances page load speed. Disconnect prevents invisible tracking networks from collecting your data and provides additional features like Wi-Fi security and private search. Learn more about it here.

Privacy Possum: Blocks various tracking methods used by advertisers. Privacy Possum thwarts fingerprinting techniques, blocks access to your browsing history, and protects your privacy without breaking website functionality. Visit their website to find out more.

AdGuard: Filters out ads and protects against tracking. AdGuard offers robust ad-blocking capabilities, privacy protection, and customization options to enhance your browsing experience. Find more information on their official site.

Ghostery: Detects and blocks tracking technologies on websites. Ghostery allows you to see and block trackers, providing transparency and control over your online privacy. Visit their website for further details.

Cookie AutoDelete: Automatically deletes cookies when you close browser tabs. Cookie AutoDelete helps you manage and protect your browsing privacy by automatically removing cookies after you finish using a website. Get it from the official website.

Private Browsing

Using your browser's 'private' or 'incognito' mode can help avoid saving cookies, temporary files, and browsing history on your computer. This doesn't provide full anonymity, but it does offer a layer of privacy.

Firefox Private Browsing

Firefox Private Browsing is a built-in feature in the Firefox browser that allows you to browse the web without saving your browsing history, cookies, or site data. It creates a temporary session that is isolated from your regular browsing activities, providing an additional layer of privacy. In this mode, Firefox also blocks third-party trackers, offering enhanced privacy protection. Download Firefox.

Chrome Incognito Mode

Chrome Incognito Mode, similar to Firefox Private Browsing, allows you to browse the web without leaving traces of your browsing activity on your device. It doesn't save your browsing history, cookies, site data, or information entered in forms. However, it's important to note that your online activities may still be visible to websites you visit, your employer, or your internet service provider. Download Chrome.

Safari Private Browsing

Safari Private Browsing is available on the Safari browser for Mac and iOS devices. It lets you browse privately, preventing the browser from saving your browsing history, search history, and cookies. It also disables autofill and blocks certain trackers, providing a more private browsing experience. Download Safari.

Opera Private Mode

Opera Private Mode is a feature that allows you to browse privately, similar to other browsers' private modes. It prevents the browser from saving your browsing history, cookies, and other data, providing increased privacy during your browsing sessions. Opera also includes a free built-in VPN (Virtual Private Network) that further enhances your privacy and security when browsing the web. Download Opera.

Microsoft Edge InPrivate Browsing

Microsoft Edge offers InPrivate Browsing, which allows you to browse the web without storing browsing history, cookies, and site data. It also disables third-party toolbars and extensions by default, giving you a more private browsing experience. Edge's tracking prevention feature provides additional protection against cross-site tracking and potentially harmful trackers. Download Edge.

Brave Private Browsing

Brave browser includes a Private Browsing mode that provides enhanced privacy by blocking ads, trackers, and preventing browser fingerprinting. It offers protection against various forms of online tracking and ensures your browsing activities are kept private. Brave's built-in shields allow you to customize your privacy preferences and control the types of content you want to block or allow on websites. Download Brave.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) mask your IP address and encrypt your internet connection, making your online activities difficult to trace. They provide an additional layer of security and privacy, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks or accessing sensitive information.


NordVPN is a popular VPN service that offers strong encryption and a large network of servers worldwide. It allows you to browse the internet securely and anonymously, protecting your data from potential eavesdropping and censorship. Visit NordVPN.


ExpressVPN is known for its fast and reliable VPN service, providing strong encryption and a wide range of server locations. It offers user-friendly apps for various devices and ensures your online privacy and security. Visit ExpressVPN.


Surfshark is a feature-rich VPN provider that offers affordable plans and unlimited simultaneous connections. It provides robust encryption, malware and ad blocking, and a strict no-logs policy for enhanced privacy. Visit Surfshark.

Private Internet Access (PIA)

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a VPN service that prioritizes user privacy and security. It offers strong encryption, an extensive server network, and features like ad-blocking and malware protection. PIA also has a strict no-logs policy. Visit PIA.


CyberGhost is a user-friendly VPN service that offers a wide range of features for enhanced privacy and security. It provides strong encryption, ad-blocking, and automatic HTTPS redirection. CyberGhost has dedicated apps for various platforms and a strict no-logs policy. Visit CyberGhost.


ProtonVPN is a VPN service developed by the creators of ProtonMail, known for its focus on privacy and security. It offers strong encryption, a free plan with limited features, and a premium plan with more advanced functionality. Visit ProtonVPN.

Privacy-centric Browsers

Privacy-centric browsers prioritize user privacy with built-in features designed to block trackers, ads, and other intrusive elements. These browsers offer enhanced privacy protection and often provide additional customization options for privacy-conscious users.

Brave Browser

Brave Browser is a privacy-focused browser that blocks ads, trackers, and other web nuisances by default. It aims to provide a faster and more private browsing experience while giving users control over their online privacy. Visit Brave Browser.

Firefox Browser

Firefox Browser is an open-source browser that emphasizes user privacy and security. It offers enhanced tracking protection, which automatically blocks known trackers, and provides options to customize your privacy settings. Firefox also supports a wide range of privacy-focused extensions. Visit Firefox Browser.


Waterfox is a privacy-oriented browser based on Mozilla Firefox. It is designed to provide a fast and secure browsing experience while focusing on user privacy. Waterfox offers features like Enhanced Tracking Protection and compatibility with Firefox extensions. Visit Waterfox.

Tor Browser

Tor Browser is a privacy-focused browser that utilizes the Tor network to anonymize your internet traffic. It routes your connection through multiple volunteer-operated servers, making it difficult to trace your online activities. Tor Browser is designed to protect your privacy and offers features like NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere. Visit Tor Browser.

GNU IceCat

GNU IceCat is a free and privacy-focused browser that is based on Mozilla Firefox. It aims to provide enhanced privacy and security by removing proprietary components and disabling features that could compromise user privacy. IceCat supports various privacy-focused add-ons and has a strict commitment to user freedom. Visit GNU IceCat.

Pale Moon

Pale Moon is a lightweight and customizable browser that focuses on user privacy and customization. It is based on the Mozilla platform and offers a range of privacy features and options, allowing users to tailor their browsing experience to their specific needs. Visit Pale Moon.

Privacy-respecting Search Engines

Search Engines

Using a search engine that respects your privacy can be a significant step towards securing your online activities. These privacy-focused search engines prioritize user privacy by not tracking or storing your search history, allowing you to search the web without compromising your privacy.


DuckDuckGo is a privacy-centric search engine that doesn't track or store your search history. It provides unbiased search results and offers additional privacy features, such as forcing websites to use encrypted connections whenever possible. Visit DuckDuckGo.


Startpage is a privacy-focused search engine that delivers Google search results while protecting your privacy. It acts as an intermediary between you and Google, ensuring that your search queries remain private and anonymous. Startpage also offers options to view search results anonymously and to use a custom URL generator. Visit Startpage.


Qwant is a European search engine that respects user privacy and does not track or store personal information. It provides search results from a variety of sources while protecting your privacy. Qwant also offers additional features like secure browsing and privacy filters. Visit Qwant.


Searx is a privacy-focused metasearch engine that aggregates search results from various sources while protecting user privacy. It does not store any personal information and allows you to customize your search experience by choosing which sources to include. Searx is open-source and can be self-hosted for additional privacy control. Visit Searx.


Swisscows is a privacy-oriented search engine that emphasizes user privacy and family-friendliness. It does not store any personal data, provides encrypted connections, and delivers search results with a focus on user privacy. Swisscows also offers a safe search mode for child-friendly browsing. Visit Swisscows.


Mojeek is an independent search engine that aims to provide unbiased search results while respecting user privacy. It does not track or store personal information, and its search index is built from its own web crawler. Mojeek offers a privacy-focused search experience without compromising on search quality. Visit Mojeek.

Anti-Tracking Software

Anti-Tracking Software Image

Anti-tracking software helps detect and block tracking technologies on the websites you visit, helping to protect your data from being collected by advertisers and other entities. These tools enhance your privacy and give you more control over your online activities.


Ghostery is a popular anti-tracking browser extension that detects and blocks a wide range of tracking technologies. It provides detailed information about the trackers on each website and allows you to control which trackers to block. Ghostery helps protect your online privacy by preventing trackers from collecting your data. Visit Ghostery.

Privacy Badger

Privacy Badger is an anti-tracking browser extension developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). It automatically detects and blocks third-party trackers while allowing legitimate content. Privacy Badger learns as you browse and adapts to new tracking techniques, providing effective protection without requiring manual configuration. Visit Privacy Badger.


Disconnect is an anti-tracking tool that blocks invisible tracking networks and helps protect your online privacy. It shows you the number of tracking requests blocked in real-time and allows you to visualize and understand the connections between websites and third-party trackers. Disconnect also offers additional privacy features like Wi-Fi security and private search. Visit Disconnect.


AdGuard is a popular ad-blocking and anti-tracking software that blocks ads, trackers, and malicious websites. It provides comprehensive protection against online tracking and helps improve browsing speed and security. AdGuard is available as a browser extension and also offers applications for various platforms. Visit AdGuard.


uMatrix is a powerful browser extension that gives you granular control over the scripts and resources that websites can load. It allows you to block or allow specific domains, giving you fine-grained control over what content and tracking technologies are permitted. uMatrix is highly customizable and provides advanced protection against tracking and other web threats. Visit uMatrix.


NoScript is a browser extension that blocks JavaScript, Java, Flash, and other potentially dangerous scripts on websites. It provides an extra layer of security by allowing you to whitelist trusted websites and selectively enable scripts. NoScript helps prevent malicious activities and enhances your online privacy. Visit NoScript.

Encrypted Messaging Apps

Switching to messaging apps that provide end-to-end encryption ensures that your conversations stay private and secure. These encrypted messaging apps protect your messages from being intercepted and read by unauthorized users.


Signal is a popular encrypted messaging app known for its strong security and privacy features. It uses end-to-end encryption for all messages, voice calls, and video calls, ensuring that only you and the intended recipient can access the content. Signal also offers additional privacy-focused features like disappearing messages and screen security. Visit Signal.


Telegram is a cloud-based messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption for secret chats. It allows you to send self-destructing messages, supports large group chats, and offers a range of privacy features like passcode lock and two-factor authentication. Telegram also provides options for secure file sharing and has a focus on speed and user-friendly interface. Visit Telegram.


WhatsApp is a widely used messaging app that features end-to-end encryption for all messages, voice calls, and video calls. It offers a simple and intuitive interface, supports group chats, and provides additional privacy features like disappearing messages and two-step verification. WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, so it's important to consider the broader privacy implications. Visit WhatsApp.


Wire is a secure messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption for messages, voice calls, and video calls. It allows you to create secure group conversations and offers additional features like file sharing and collaboration tools. Wire focuses on user privacy and security and provides a clean and modern user interface. Visit Wire.


Threema is a privacy-focused messaging app that prioritizes security and anonymity. It offers end-to-end encryption, anonymous sign-up, and automatic message deletion. Threema also does not require a phone number or email address to create an account, providing an extra layer of privacy. Visit Threema.


Session is an encrypted messaging app that focuses on privacy and decentralization. It uses end-to-end encryption and is built on a decentralized peer-to-peer network, ensuring that no central servers store your data. Session also provides features like self-destructing messages and anonymous account creation. Visit Session.

Secure Email Providers

Using a secure email provider that values privacy can help protect your email communications from unauthorized access. These providers offer end-to-end encryption and have strict privacy policies to safeguard your sensitive information.


ProtonMail is an encrypted email service that provides end-to-end encryption for your emails. It offers zero-access encryption, which means your emails are encrypted on the server and can only be decrypted by the intended recipients. ProtonMail also has a user-friendly interface and additional security features like self-destructing messages. Visit ProtonMail.


Tutanota is a secure email provider that offers end-to-end encryption for your emails and contacts. It provides a simple and intuitive interface, supports calendar integration, and has features like secure password recovery. Tutanota also offers encrypted cloud storage for files and attachments. Visit Tutanota.


Mailfence is a privacy-focused email provider that offers end-to-end encryption and digital signatures. It provides features like secure file sharing, integrated calendars, and support for custom domains. Mailfence is committed to user privacy and does not track or profile its users. Visit Mailfence.


Posteo is an environmentally friendly email provider that offers secure and sustainable email services. It provides end-to-end encryption, anonymous account creation, and features like calendar and address book integration. Posteo is privacy-focused and has a commitment to data protection and sustainability. Visit Posteo.


StartMail is a private email service that offers end-to-end encryption and anonymous account creation. It provides features like disposable aliases, custom domain support, and PGP encryption. StartMail has a strong focus on user privacy and does not track or log your activities. Visit StartMail.


CounterMail is a secure email provider that offers strong encryption and advanced security features. It uses diskless web servers and provides features like USB key login, self-destructing emails, and password manager integration. CounterMail is designed to protect your privacy and security. Visit CounterMail.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts adds an extra layer of security, making it more difficult for unauthorized users to access your information. With 2FA, you'll need to provide a second form of verification, usually a code sent to your mobile device, in addition to your password.

Google Authenticator

Google Authenticator is a popular 2FA app that generates time-based one-time passwords (TOTP) for your accounts. It allows you to add your accounts by scanning QR codes and provides secure two-factor authentication for various online services. Google Authenticator is available for both Android and iOS devices. Learn More.


Authy is a widely used 2FA app that offers secure two-factor authentication for your accounts. It provides multi-device synchronization, backup options, and supports a wide range of online services. Authy also offers additional security features like PIN protection and biometric authentication. Learn More.

LastPass Authenticator

LastPass Authenticator is a 2FA app offered by LastPass, a popular password manager. It provides easy setup and integration with your LastPass account, allowing you to use the same app for both password management and two-factor authentication. LastPass Authenticator supports both TOTP and SMS-based verification. Learn More.

Microsoft Authenticator

Microsoft Authenticator is a 2FA app offered by Microsoft that provides secure two-factor authentication for your Microsoft accounts and other online services. It supports both time-based and push notifications for verification codes, and it allows for easy account setup and management. Microsoft Authenticator is available for both Android and iOS devices. Learn More.

Duo Mobile

Duo Mobile is a 2FA app that offers secure two-factor authentication for various online services. It supports multiple authentication methods, including push notifications, passcodes, and biometric authentication. Duo Mobile provides an intuitive user interface and allows for easy account setup and management. Learn More.


YubiKey is a hardware-based security key that provides strong two-factor authentication. It connects to your device via USB or NFC and generates one-time passwords or FIDO2/WebAuthn credentials for secure authentication. YubiKey supports a wide range of online services and offers an additional layer of protection against phishing and account takeover attacks. Learn More.

Regular Software Updates

Keeping your software, including your operating system and browser, up to date ensures you have the latest security patches and improvements. Regular software updates are crucial for maintaining the security and privacy of your online activities.

Operating System Updates

Regularly updating your operating system is essential for staying protected against security vulnerabilities. Operating system updates often include security patches that address known vulnerabilities and improve overall system stability. Make sure to enable automatic updates or regularly check for updates manually to keep your operating system up to date.

Browser Updates

Keeping your browser up to date is equally important for maintaining a secure browsing experience. Browser updates often include security fixes, performance improvements, and new privacy features. Enable automatic updates in your browser settings or periodically check for updates to ensure you're using the latest version of your preferred browser.

Application Updates

In addition to your operating system and browser, it's important to keep all your applications and software up to date. This includes productivity tools, media players, antivirus software, and any other applications you use regularly. Software updates often address security vulnerabilities and provide new features, so make it a habit to regularly check for updates and install them promptly.

Mobile Device Updates

If you're using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, keeping your device's operating system and apps updated is crucial for maintaining security and privacy. Mobile updates often include security patches, bug fixes, and new features. Enable automatic updates or regularly check for updates in your device settings to ensure you're running the latest software version.

Automatic Updates

Enabling automatic updates whenever possible is recommended to ensure you receive timely security patches and software improvements. Automatic updates minimize the risk of overlooking critical updates and help maintain the security and privacy of your devices. Check the settings of your operating system, browser, and other applications to enable automatic updates.


Protecting your online privacy and security is more important than ever in today's digital age. By implementing the right tools and practices, you can significantly enhance your privacy and reduce the risk of your personal information falling into the wrong hands.

In this article, we have explored various methods and technologies to bolster your online privacy. We discussed the importance of browser extensions for privacy, the benefits of using private browsing modes, the role of virtual private networks (VPNs) in masking your IP address, and the significance of privacy-centric browsers and search engines. We also covered anti-tracking software, encrypted messaging apps, secure email providers, two-factor authentication (2FA), and the importance of regular software updates.

Remember, privacy is a continuous effort, and it requires ongoing vigilance and awareness. By incorporating these privacy-enhancing measures into your online routine and staying informed about emerging threats and best practices, you can take control of your digital footprint and enjoy a safer and more private online experience.

Last updated on May 18, 2023 at 1:00 AM (PST)
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