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Be Safe while Suring on Your BlackBerry PlayBook

The BlackBerry PlayBook’s Internet browser has many of the latest security and privacy components that you see on personal or laptop computers. But you do need to consider which settings to use. The safest way to surf the web is to enable private browsing.

It’s not perfect, but when this setting is enabled, your tablet won’t maintain much (or any) information about places you’ve been and won’t keep cookies. Cookies are deposited on your device as records of your visit.

When you use private browsing, you will not be completely invisible to places you visit, though; many sites can determine your general geographic location based on the WiFi router you use or (if you use BlackBerry Bridge to a BlackBerry smartphone, or if you have BlackBerry PlayBook with a built-in cellular radio) your location can be determined based on the cell tower in use.

This sort of information may be of great interest to some advertisers who will attempt to send highly localized offers and come-ons to your BlackBerry smartphone and through it to the browser in your PlayBook. Some users also worry about Big Brother always knowing where they are; that's almost impossible to avoid in our modern world. Just smile for the cameras that track you nearly everywhere you go.

When you get to the Privacy & Security page, these options present themselves:

  • Keep History. You can store your browsing history for a period of one to five days. Although it’s nice to quickly return to sites you visited a few days ago, leaving this set on anything other than one day makes it possible for an unauthorized user (or your boss) to see where you’ve been browsing if you haven’t enabled private browsing.

  • Block Pop-ups. Amen to that. Pop-ups are those annoying boxes that appear within some browser pages; they’re especially bothersome on the smaller screen of a tablet. The blocker isn’t perfect; advertisers are constantly trying to find ways around roadblocks. To enable the block, move the slider to the On position.

  • Accept Cookies. In a perfect world, you’d keep this setting in the Off position; however, many sites require that you accept cookies. You can, though, erase cookies and history.

  • Enable Websockets and Enable Web Inspector. These aren’t security issues — at least not yet. Websockets allow for faster communication in certain circumstances; you can experiment with it as you like. Web Inspector allows you to peer inside a website and learn about its construction; most users will leave this switch off. You must enable a password in order to use Web Inspector.

To turn on private browsing, do this:

  1. From the home page, tap the browser and connect to the Internet.

    You need an active WiFi or cellular connection.

  2. Swipe down from the top bezel to display the status panel.

    This browser is different from the general display of the home page.

  3. Tap the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the browser status panel.

  4. Tap the Privacy & Security panel on the left side of the screen.

  5. Move the Private Browsing slider to On or Off.

    You can change a bunch of other settings on the Privacy & Security panel.

  6. Make choices:

    • Keep History

    • Block Pop-ups

    • Accept Cookies

    • Enable Websockets

    • Enable Web Inspector

  7. On the lower part of the same Privacy & Security page, make choices:

    • Clear Cache: Erase the temporary storage of certain material from the web.

    • Clear Cookies: Erase cookies placed on the tablet.

    • Clear Local Storage: Delete data and other material stored on your tablet by a website.

    • Clear All: Take away all of this private information at once.

    For the utmost in privacy, tap Clear All any time you’re concerned about performance or security.

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