Microsoft Edge: Stop following me!

**DISCLOSURE: While I am contracted to Microsoft Corporation, I am not an employee. The articles that I write are not meant to represent the company, nor are they meant to represent me as an employee or spokesman for the company. As has always been the case, all articles on this website represent me and nobody else.

EdgeWhen Microsoft released the newest version of the Microsoft Edge browser (commonly known as Chromium) I was surprised by the performance and usability. It had been several years since I was willing to rely solely on a Microsoft web browser, and this one truly delivers.

While I consider myself somewhat security conscious (and extremely security aware), I am not nearly as vigilant about being tracked online as many people I know. I am often amused when I have a conversation with a friend about a particular shoe, and suddenly Facebook is sending me deals about that particular shoe… yes, I know we are being tracked. It offends me less than it does other people.

If you do not want your browser sharing anything about you, there are a few steps you can take.

Firstly, I cannot say enough about a good ad blocking software. Many of them are free, and do a great job of keeping ads down… and of course, ads are one of the ways companies track you.

In Microsoft Edge, click on the ellipses (…) in the top-right corner, and click Settings. In the Settings page navigation bar, click Privacy, search, and services. (Note that if your window is not wide enough, the navigation bar may be hidden, and you will have to click on the menu bar in the top-left corner of the screen (three lines) to open it.)

The first thing I do is enable Tracking prevention. I set it to Strict, which blocks the majority of trackers from all sites. Targeted ads and content will have very little personalization. On the other hand, some parts of some websites might not work. On my personal laptop that might be an issue; on my corporate laptop it will not be.

Scrolling down the page, under Privacy I enable the option Send “Do Not Track” requests. I also disable the option Allow sites to check if you have payment methods saved.

Further down still, under Security, I make sure that all of the options are selected… these are:

  • Microsoft Defender SmartScreen
  • Block potentially unwanted apps
  • User secure DNS to specify how to lookup the network address for websites.

These settings are not nearly as in-depth as you can go; one of the advantages of doing nothing sensitive or embarrassing on my computer is that I have very little to hide, and truly some of the worst threats to me are targeted ads. Are they annoying? maybe. Are they dangerous? probably not.

If you are really security sensitive, there are other tools and tricks you can use… but for most users, these steps will be enough.

No go forth and surf safely!

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