Skip to Main Content
Drexel Library

Privacy: Home

Best practices for keeping your electronic identity and information under your control.

Anonymous Searching

A search engine option that does not track your searches for any purpose.

In Firefox open a "New Private Window"

More on privacy from Firefox producer

Tor Browser

Traditional Anti-Virus, Malware Scanners for Windows:

These protect to a great extent, but are best at a full scan of your hard drive after it has been infected.

Sophos desktop anti-virus monitoring:
Visit the Drexel IRT Software site to install.

Spybot Search and Destroy:
Windows program against Malware and Spyware.  

Malware Bytes Anti-Malware:
Windows program, Android mobile app against Malware and Spyware.

Physical Security Measures

Some of the best things in life are free.

Physical security, such as locking your office, car or apartment door is free. Critically  evaluating potential "social engineering" requests you get for personal information via email, phone calls or even directly from friends - is free. Taking your laptop with you when you leave your study table at the Library for lunch is also free.

Other aspects of physical security require a modest investment, such as buying a secure or encrypted USB drive on which to store your school work and private information. Consider this investment in light of how many hours you devoted to composing your term projects.

Did you know that every time you log into Gmail or Facebook, a copy of your contacts and friends list is left behind when you log out? Did you know it is possible to set up an email client, such as Mozilla's Thunderbird, from a USB drive so that no personal information is left behind on whatever computer you use?

The inconvenience you incur by de-selecting the option on Gmail and Facebook to "LEAVE ME LOGGED IN" or activating the geo-location feature on your phone only when you need it - is also free.

The greater level of personal privacy and freedom from aggressive marketing and potential loss of personal information - PRICELESS!

Real-Time Privacy Analysis

LightBeam for FireFox -   When you activate Lightbeam and visit a website, sometimes called the first party, the add-on creates a real time visualization of all the third parties that are active on that page. As you then browse to a second site, the add-on highlights the third parties that are also active there and shows which third parties have seen you at both sites. The visualization grows with every site you visit and every request made from your browser.

Drexel Libraries' Privacy Policy

Taking 5 Easy Steps Toward Online Privacy

You have options to secure your privacy. Which are worthwhile? As always, there are tradeoff's involved with balancing convenience and your privacy. Below is a set basic steps you can take that get you on the path toward greater digital privacy while helping you find the right balance.

1. Set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine or open a private search window in Firefox each time you search for information that would add to a consumer profile.

2. Adjust browser settings as discussed in a separate panel on this page.

3. Install the Drexel-licensed Sophos EndPoint Protection (antivirus), and/or free versions of Malware Bytes and/or SpyBot Search-Destroy and configure them to run updates.

4. Experiment with browser add-on's as mentioned in a separate panel on this page. Can you live with logging in and out of Gmail and Facebook each time you use them?

5. Consider purchasing a secure or encrypted flash drive as mentioned under the "physical security measures" section of this page.

BONUS POINT - Review the IRT webpage on Viruses, Phishing and Spam


Browser Privacy


  • In FireFox you have the option of opening a "New Private Window" each time you want to limit cookies
  • Open "Settings" to specify how you will accept cookies from sites, and clear your history when closing Firefox

Settings to clear Firefox history


  • AdBlock (least intrusive)  "Blocks annoying video ads on YouTube, Facebook ads, banners and much more."
  • Better Privacy: (less intrusive) Gets rid of privacy-busting Flash cookies, also known as local shared objects or LSOs, which are used by many sites to supplement the normal HTTP cookies, the difference being that you can't delete Flash cookies using basic browser options like you can with regular cookies.
  • Privacy Badger: (less intrusive)  Tries to be smart about what to block. Blocks 3rd party tracker sites. Tries to block trackers without handicapping the functionality of the website you are visiting.
  • Ghostery (less intrusive) Blocks tracker sites with a list that can be updated from Ghostery. Like Privacy Badger, you can drill down and see what it thinks are needed to make the visited site work, and which it designates as trackers.
  • NoScript/ NotScripts (more intrusive) For Firefox and Chrome respectively.  Allows JavaScript, Java, Flash and other plugins to be executed only by trusted web sites of your choice.  Also provides cross-site scripting and clickjacking protection.

Online Behavioral Best Practices to Ensure Privacy

    Limit information sharing via privacy settings

Most social media sites offer a range of privacy and safety settings. Careful reading and selection of stricter privacy and safety options are the easiest ways to limit your personal information sharing. In addition to careful initial selection, periodic review of settings is important, as available options change frequently.

    Withhold personal information

Many social media sites ask for your name, phone number, physical address and other personal information, but they do not require it in order to use their services. When possible, refrain from providing optional personal or other identifying information to protect your privacy online and to limit the amount of personal information service providers can collect about you.

    Use pseudonyms or alternate information

In addition to withholding information, using pseudonyms or alternate information is an option. Many users choose pseudonyms such as nicknames, middle names, or made up names to keep their identities semi-private online. This way, only known friends can find them online and access their personal content. Also limit your use of apps and games within these sites; typically they are designed to collect personal information for marketing and other commercial purposes.

    Limit online friends/fans

Although it can be tempting to gather hundreds or evens thousands of followers, the risk of someone capturing and misusing your personal information increases as the size of your audience increases. Policies such as limiting your friends to people you know in the offline world can help to keep the size of your social media account audiences reasonable.

    Think of the general public as your audience

Social media environments might feel intimate, but sharing in social media is never truly private, even if you limit the audiences that can see what you post. A good way to avoid over-sharing is to think of the general public – not just the person or people you are aiming your messages at – as your actual audience. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying something to a group of strangers or sharing a photo or video in public, then you shouldn’t do it on social media.

    Consider the possible consequences before posting information online

Before posting personal information online, ask yourself, “Is this something I want everyone in my social network to see? Is it something I would object to their sharing with others without my knowledge?” As a rule, if you hesitate or feel unsure about posting something, don’t do it.

    Remember that anything you post will stay online indefinitely

Even if you delete that embarrassing picture, post, or video, chances are it will stay online somewhere. This means that before posting anything online, it’s important to consider: “Do I want this to be available on the Internet for the rest of my life?”

    Monitor your online content

It’s a good idea to periodically google yourself and also to view your account profiles from the audience view to see what personal information others can access. You might find information you had thought you had limited is easily available, prompting you to rethink your sharing practices.

    Change passwords frequently

You should change your passwords for your social media, online shopping, phone and other accounts every few months. It’s also important to use different passwords for each account. That way if someone does obtain one of your passwords, they will only be able access the one account…not your entire online life.

    Use common sense online

Above all, use common sense. If posting something seems like it might be a bad idea, it probably is. If you feel uncomfortable in an online environment, then leave. Simple common sense can be your best defense against possible negative consequences of social media use.

SOURCE: "10 Tips for Safer Social Media Use" By Dr. Denise Agosto at Drexel University's College of Computing and Informatics

Subject Guide