How to Use Firefox Privacy & Security Preferences

Configure security and permission settings in the Firefox web browser

Firefox browser logo

Sean Martell / Wikimedia Commons

Mozilla Firefox has the ability to set security and permissions for all websites as well as for individual websites you visit. These settings include the ability to block content while you browse, use cookies, save passwords, autofill forms, set permissions, limit the information Firefox collects, and handle dangerous content.

Firefox Privacy & Security

To find the privacy and security settings, open the Firefox browser, go to the address bar, type about:preferences#privacy, and press Enter. In Privacy & Security, you’ll see four major sections.

The "About" commands in Firefox can be very helpful and informative.

Browser Privacy

In this section, you set at what level to protect against potentially dangerous content. Choose Standard (the default settings), Strict, or Custom (choose what to block and to what extent). Then, choose how Firefox should track your browsing history, store cookies, save passwords, and auto-fill forms for the sites you visit.

You can also fine-tune the content-blocking settings, such as whether websites can track you or to have Firefox save login credentials. For example, in the Logins and Passwords section, select Exceptions to create a list of websites that aren’t allowed to save your username and password.

The Browser Privacy section of Firefox Privacy & Security

Permissions

Configure general settings for location tracking, camera and microphone use, and whether and how you receive notifications.

Each item in the Permissions section can be modified to change the settings and add exceptions to further fine-tune your security. For example, select the Camera Settings to tell Firefox what to do if a website asks to access your camera.

The Permissions section of Firefox Privacy & Security

Firefox Data Collection and Use

This section tells Firefox how to handle sensitive and private information. Access Mozilla’s Privacy Notice to decide whether to send technical information and crash reports (which Firefox generates when the browser suddenly quits on a website) to Mozilla and allow Firefox to recommend extensions to improve your browsing experience.

The Firefox Data Collection and Use section of Firefox Privacy & Security

Security

In the Security section, configure how Firefox handles potentially dangerous or deceptive content on the websites you visit. Such content (called phishing) is designed to trick you into giving up sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers or credit card information. Other sites may present links to malware that can infect your computer and any device connected to it on the same network. Firefox protects against phishing and other types of attacks with its Phishing and Malware Protection feature, which checks the sites you visit against a list of sites known to be malicious or contain potentially dangerous content.

A web server certificate is a guarantee that the owner of the site is legitimate. If a site prompts you for your personal certificate, the site may want to collect personal information from you or establish a secure connection with your browser (you can tell if the URL begins with https). You can configure what Firefox should do if the server running a website requests your personal certificate.

There are many ways to secure Firefox for safer web experiences.

The Security section of Firefox Privacy & Security

Firefox Control Center

If you want to use different settings on a particular website, go to the Firefox Control Center. To find the Control Center, go to any website and select the "i" in a circle icon before the URL in the address bar. When you click that icon on any web page, a menu opens with specific controls for that page.

Control Center icon and window

Connection Security

Firefox indicates whether a site is secure. When a site is secure, a green lock icon appears in the address bar. If a site isn't secure (for example, the site owner's certificate has expired), a yellow warning symbol may appear over the lock or the lock may be red.

To find more information about a site’s security, select the Control Center icon. Then, select the arrow next to Connection. The Site Security window displays the website owner and which certification authority issued and verified the site certificate.

Site Security and padlock icon

Content Blocking

If you configured content blocking in Privacy & Security, when you click the Control Center icon on a website, you’ll see whether the site has the ability to track you or contains content that Firefox has blocked. To change the Content Blocking settings for this site, select Custom (the gear icon).

Content Blocking in Control Center

Permissions

If you want to set special permissions for the website you’re on, go to the Permissions section. To adjust the settings, select the gear icon beside Permissions. This displays the Permissions section of Privacy & Security, where you can make site-specific choices for your location, camera, and pop-up windows.

Permissions in Control Center

Surf Safely

The Firefox browser is your key to the World Wide Web. By configuring security and privacy settings in Privacy & Security and making site-specific changes in Control Center, you can surf the web in safety.