Disabling default use of javascript in your browser

Anytime we have something nice, some unscrupulous bad actor will come along and ruin it for everyone.

Data Mining

Most recently as of the date of this writing, FaceBook had been caught collecting very private financial data from our Federal and State Income Tax Returns with the full knowledge and cooperation of Income Tax preparation corporations. TaxAct, TaxSlayer, and H&R Block were exposed by data research reported in an November 22, 2022 08:00 ET article published by The Markup by , and .

Across these “Free File” vendors, FaceBook collects everything needed to falsify tax returns, or get names of child dependents to aide in targeting children by knowing their name, and their families’ address, phone numbers, demographics, filing status (married, single parent, etc), Gross and Adjusted Gross incomes and the amount of their tax refund. Knowing someone is a 12 year old daughter of a single mother with a $2,000 refund at a specific home address and phone number might be very handy to the wrong person. Do you feel that the radical leftist actors at FaceBook are the right, trustworthy, individuals to have and use your very private financial data or family information that would allow a pedophile to groom and kidnap your child, without your  knowledge and consent?

Drive By Downloads

Javascript is also needed for clandestine drive by downloads – files downloaded, and potentially installed and run, without your knowledge or consent when you view a web page.

This is a primary method of installing viruses, back doors,  and other mal-ware on individuals’s computers. You search for information on a topic, browse to the web sites in the search results, and even through a web page didn’t seem to be relevant to your search – the page might even have appeared blank – it ran a javascript program in your browser to download and install a program that you did not authorize.

Such mal-ware might merely flood your computer from then on with ads, or it could harvest private information from your computer and send it to the mafia in New York or China or Arabia, or encrypt your disk and demand ransom money to get your files back – you don’t know, and it will be difficult if not impossible to find and remove.

But without javascript drive by downloads can’t automatically happen.

Javascript

Javascript was invented to make our lives easier, to make cute little kitties walk across our computer screens or personalize website screen layout and menus to fit our computer, or automatically download the version of a file (Windows, Mac, Linux) that we can use. Anytime we have something nice, some unscrupulous bad actor will come along and ruin it for everyone.

The ethical and privacy violations described at the start of this article are accomplished through javascript placed on the  web site, with or without the knowledge of the web site owner. Without javascript the bad actor must persuade you to click something, such as a link or a button, to download their mal-ware file, and then to run their file and approve installing on your computer. If you are not expecting this you might be uncooperative and their purpose fails.

The good news is this is easy to fix for Browsers based upon Google Chromium. The bad news is some other browsers make it impractical for daily use because they lack an fast, easy, way to turn javascript on with one to two clicks for web sites, such as your bank, that you know and trust: sites that truly need javascript to work.

How to Turn Off Javascript in Chromium -based Browsers

In Chromium based browsers such as Google Chrome and Brave, click the menu icon (three horizontal lines) in the top right corner of your screen. In the search box type “java”. Scroll down to the bottom where you see Site and Shields Settings.

Scroll down to see javascript and click so it reads “Don’t allow sites to use javascript”.

 

To turn javascript on when you need it

On Chromium based browsers there is an icon that appears at the far right end of the URL box when a web page wants to run javascript but your browser denied it. If you trust this page, then click that icon. For Chrome it is two <> for Brave it is a red lion.

When I encounter this on sites I do not know, I copy the URL then open a “New Private Window (short cut key Ctrl-Shift-N) using the menu icon. I paste the URL I copied into the (now sandboxed) URL box and enter, then enable javascript only there in the Private Window. In this way any attempts to hack my computer or collect private information will (hopefully) fail because of the isolation in the sand box. That is why there is such a thing as New Private Window. The other thing in Brave that is not in Chrome is Tor – an IP anonymizer which allows me to do things such as watch Terry Pratchet videos on BBC, since BBC won’t allow those outside the UK to watch. Somehow that gives me a tiny feeling that I have overcome an oppressor.

Non-Chromium Browsers

For non-chromium based browsers you may be better off to install NoScript (or NoScript Security Suite)  for the browser. This allows the browser to work similar to that described above for chromium based browsers.

FireFox

FireFox is more complicated.  To turn off javascript in FireFox

Disable javascript on FireFox

  • Enter about:config into the search bar and select Accept the Risk and Continue.
  • Enter javascript.enabled into the search box at the top of the page.
  • Select the javascript.enabled toggle to change the value to false.
  • On Android, tap the entry, then tap the toggle to disable JavaScript in Firefox.

Safari

To turn off javascript on Safari  on Linux or Windows

  • Open Safari, go to the Safari menu, and select Preferences Security. Uncheck Enable JavaScript to disable the feature.
  • On an iPhone: Open the Settings app, then scroll down and tap Safari. At the bottom of the Safari settings screen, tap Advanced.
  • Then, tap the slider next to JavaScript to toggle it to the off position.

To turn off javascript on Safari on Mac

  • Open Safari.
  • Open the Safari menu and select Preferences.
  • The keyboard shortcut for Preferences is Command+, (comma).
  • Safari on a Mac with the Preferences menu item highlighted
  • Go to the Security tab.
  • Safari Preferences with the Security tab highlighted
  • Clear the Enable JavaScript check box to disable the feature.

To turn off javascript on Safari on iPhone

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Scroll down to Safari and tap it.
  • At the bottom of the Safari settings screen, tap Advanced.
  • Tap the slider next to JavaScript to toggle it to the off position.

To turn javascript on when you need it

The problem with non-chromium based browsers is turning javascript back on for individual websites. So far as I can tell you need to reverse the above procedures to turn on javascript while you want to use it, then turn it off again. Cumbersome.

To turn off JavaScript on Microsoft Edge:

  • Open DevTools (right-click the webpage) and then select Inspect. Or, press Ctrl+Shift+I (Windows, Linux) or Command+Option+I (macOS)
  • DevTools opens
  • Press Ctrl+Shift+P (Windows, Linux) or Command+Shift+P (macOS) to open the Command Menu.
  • Start typing javascript, select Disable JavaScript, then press Enter to run the command
  • JavaScript is now disabled.

The yellow warning icon next to Sources reminds you that JavaScript is disabled. JavaScript remains disabled in the tab for as long as you have DevTools open.

To re-enable JavaScript:

  • Press Ctrl+Shift+P (Windows, Linux) or Command+Shift+P (macOS) to open the Command Menu.
  • Select the Enable JavaScript command.