Is there any browser anti-tracking utility out there?

golfgirlgolf

macrumors member
Original poster
What I would like to see is an add on to an OSX browser that would AUTOMATICALLY DELETE all cookies, flash cookies, cache and other junk on a regular, timed basis - set by the user.

1x every 15 minutes, hour, every 2 hours, 4 hours, daily, etc.

It could also have an option to protect a website's data if currently in use -
Also - offer a whitelist of specific site's data or websites to protect, as well as a blacklist - to block.

The reason being - for many things online cookies etc. MUST be enabled for them to work. But I only want them when I need them - NOT forever!

I want this crap to go away - automatically - transparently - and quickly.... not be be followed online, or bogged down by it all.

Yes, QUITTING some browsers gives the option to wipe all data at the same time - but I don't want to have to quit every time I leave a website.

Is there anything like this on any OSX broswer???
It doesn't seem to be a hard thing to do, and not unreasonable to ask.
 

golfgirlgolf

macrumors member
Original poster
Safari > Private Browsing...
Also kills your history (which to me is actually very useful) - AFAIK no option to keep history in PB Mode. I'm more concerned with the invisible "junk" websites hide in your system. Cookies being the most well known offender.

Could Ghostery work?
It blocks things - not allows them temporarily on a set timer. (my request) While most of the blocks are ok - I've used it on and off for a while and often have to disable it to make things work properly on many websites. (click-able links, comment forms, and much more are often disabled)

Good thoughts however!
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,365
703
Also kills your history (which to me is actually very useful) - AFAIK no option to keep history in PB Mode. I'm more concerned with the invisible "junk" websites hide in your system. Cookies being the most well known offender.
Why the concern about cookies? Do you know what they are and what they're used for? And websites don't hide anything on your system. Your browser downloads and saves things like cookies and website elements in locations determined by your browser, not the website. Also, it's not "junk". It's data needed to properly display and navigate websites.
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
25,137
8,186
Detroit
Firefox has the "Do not track" feature.

How do I turn the Do-not-track feature on?

The Do-not-track feature is turned off by default. To turn it on:

1 At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Firefox button (Tools menu in Windows XP) and then click Options
2 Select the Privacy panel.
3 Check Tell websites I do not want to be tracked.
4 Click OK to close the Options window
Also there is Noscript javascript/flash blocker for Firefox.

Google Chrome has a similar add-on called scriptno. It can also be found in the Chrome Web Store.

Then there was Flush.app which was a free app to get rid of Flash cookies (LSO), but their site is no longer active. I use an Automater script to get rid of the LSO's.

Betterprivacy is an add-on for Firefox which eliminates LSO's as well.
 
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golfgirlgolf

macrumors member
Original poster
Why the concern about cookies?
Cookies aren't all good - and are just one example of items in memory or storage that are generated by navigation online.

Do you know what they are and what they're used for?
In my asking for automated, advanced features does this question even need asking?
Maybe you're not aware but there are such things as persistent cookies and malicious cookies among other dangers online. FYI Persistent cookies are used to collect identifying information about the user, such as Web surfing behavior.

And websites don't hide anything on your system. Your browser downloads and saves things like cookies and website elements in locations determined by your browser, not the website.
Arguably, the browser doesn't do anything that the website doesn't initiate by virtue of something in it's code or placed on the site. I design websites, and not one of my designs asks or causes a browser to accept a cookie to be able to use it. I call it "hidden" because it's not displayed up front, done without the average user's knowledge, and often takes multiple steps to find and remove.

Also, it's not "junk". It's data needed to properly display and navigate websites.
One's opinion on junk I guess. Not in all cases - In some cases "data needed to properly display and navigate websites" is partially true, but ignoring that advertising, tracking and information gathering isn't a large component of the goal of many commercial websites (and their browser communication), is misinformed and/or naive.

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Firefox has the "Do not track" feature.

Also there is Noscript javascript/flash blocker for Firefox.

Google Chrome has a similar add-on called scriptno. It can also be found in the Chrome Web Store.

Then there was Flush.app which was a free app to get rid of Flash cookies (LSO), but their site is no longer active. I use an Automater script to get rid of the LSO's.

Betterprivacy is an add-on for Firefox which eliminates LSO's as well.
I've only just started looking at Firefox for this. The No-Script add on has some mixed reviews...mostly that it's too aggressive and hard to work with - worth a try however. I have no idea if FFox's Do Not Track removes
History or if that's an option. Also worth a look!
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,365
703
Cookies aren't all good
Explain in what way they aren't good.
In my asking for automated, advanced features does this question even need asking?
Yes, it does, as it's apparent you have some erroneous ideas about cookies.
Maybe you're not aware but there are such things as persistent cookies and malicious cookies among other dangers online. FYI Persistent cookies are used to collect identifying information about the user, such as Web surfing behavior.
There's no such thing as a malicious or dangerous cookie. A cookie simply identifies your computer, so a website knows how to help you navigate their site and keep track of things like shopping carts, preferences, etc. They cannot collect any information about the user that the user doesn't permit. Once you leave a site, the cookies stored on your computer by that site are useless, until you return to that site.
Arguably, the browser doesn't do anything that the website doesn't initiate by virtue of something in it's code or placed on the site. I design websites, and not one of my designs asks or causes a browser to accept a cookie to be able to use it.
If that's the case, those websites are very simplistic in design. You can't have a shopping cart function without cookies, for example.
I call it "hidden" because it's not displayed up front, done without the average user's knowledge, and often takes multiple steps to find and remove.
It's not hidden. Unless the user is a neophyte, they're aware that most sites use cookies. As for removing them, it's as simple as Safari > Reset Safari.
One's opinion on junk I guess. Not in all cases - In some cases "data needed to properly display and navigate websites" is partially true, but ignoring that advertising, tracking and information gathering isn't a large component of the goal of many commercial websites (and their browser communication), is misinformed and/or naive.
Advertising is easily blocked with ad-blockers, but that's a completely different issue.

If you learn more about what cookies are and how they work in most sites, you'll realize they're not something to worry about. They're easily cleared whenever desired, take up very little space, being nothing more than tiny text files, and aren't a threat in any way.
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
25,137
8,186
Detroit
Noscript is a fairly easy tool to use IMO. I've been using it for years and it's highly customizable.

You may be interested in a podcast called Security Now. You can also find them in iTunes (Mac, PC & Apple TV) and TWiT.tv. They have audio and video available.

Specifically episodes:

  • #38 Browser Security
  • #52 A Busy Week for Security Troubles
  • #85 Intro to Web Code Injection
  • #86 Cross-Site Scripting
  • #219 Badly Broken Browsing
  • #221 The Oxymoron of “JavaScript Security”
  • #270 The Evercookie
  • #305 Ghostery
  • #339 "ScriptNo" for Chrome

All of those can be found in audio format on grc.com/sn.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,365
703
Specifically episodes:
  • #270 The Evercookie
I'm not going to take the time to go through all of those, as it's common knowledge that every OS and every browser has security holes, and this discussion is specifically about cookies, not scripting. I did check the one I quoted, which stated this about the "Evercookie":
And so in his FAQ, at the very end, he asks the question, can it be stopped? And he did say that private browsing in Safari will stop all evercookie methods after a browser restart. So Apple Safari private browsing is robust enough to just shut all this down. I mean, private browsing creates a sandboxed environment such that nothing persistent leaks. And that's good news.
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
25,137
8,186
Detroit
OP, you could also just turn off cookies altogether. Or what is recommended, is to not accept third-party cookies. Every browser should support that. Below is Firefox.



GGJstudios, I added the scripting stuff too because I felt it was relevant as a matter of tracking/security and good info to know. :)
 

golfgirlgolf

macrumors member
Original poster
Explain in what way they aren't good.

There's no such thing as a malicious or dangerous cookie.
Reread "Cookies aren't all good" again, and this time interpret this way - 100% of all cookies put forth online are not all good. There are bad ones out there.

http://www.symantec.com/security_response/attacksignatures/detail.jsp?asid=24125

Malicious can simply mean a "tracking cookie". Advertisers and Web analytics firms do this for collecting and using/selling personal data about computer users without their knowledge. Even if they know it's there - the user should not have to accept being constantly mined for data and personal information.

Whatever, all this information is easily found online.

Firefox does seem to have more robust privacy customization options over the simplistic Private Browsing option in Safari.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,365
703
Malicious can simply mean a "tracking cookie".
A cookie in and of itself poses no threat. It may be used by a script or other process, but the cookie itself is an inert file. It can't do anything on its own.
Advertisers and Web analytics firms do this for collecting and using/selling personal data about computer users without their knowledge.
A cookie contains no information about the user. There is no way for a website to know who a user is unless the user provides that information willingly.