When using Firefox – or any web browser for that matter – one of the best practices you can develop is to always be mindful of your privacy and security. You never know when someone could be snooping on you or intercepting your data. Indeed, being vigilant about this could mean the difference between a blissful browsing experience and maliciously stolen accounts.
A few months ago, I wrote about Firefox encryption addons aimed to keep your outgoing browser data as safe from prying eyes as possible. Encryption is great but there are other considerations you need to make if you want to be as safe as you can be. The Internet can be an annoying – or even dangerous – place if you don’t watch yourself.
A few years ago, something known as the “Flash cookie” came onto the scene (AKA “super cookie” or “long-term cookie” or “local shared object”) and still exists today. Basically, it’s a Flash-based cookie that never expires and can’t be deleted through conventional means, which allows the advertising industry to track you pretty much anywhere you go.
Browsers aren’t yet fully aware of these Flash cookies so they can’t do much against them. That’s why BetterPrivacy exists. It allows you to manage Flash cookies on your system with ease. You can even set it to automatically delete Flash cookies on startup, shutdown, or on a schedule.
Note: Not all Flash cookies are bad. Some browser-based games use them to store game settings, some interactive sites use them to store login data, etc. If you automatically delete your Flash cookies, make sure to set important Flash cookies as exempt.
Ghostery is a comprehensive web privacy Firefox addon that lets you see who’s trying to track you and subsequently block them if you don’t trust them. Ghostery can detect much of the invisible web activity going on behind the scenes – especially the trackers deployed by ad agencies and web publishers.
With NoScript, you’ll be guarded against cross-site scripting vulnerabilities (XSS), cross-zone DNS rebinding and CSRF attacks (router hacking), and clickjacking attempts.
Keyloggers can be a big problem. They’re a form of malware that sits quietly on your computer and traces every key you press and every click you make, then sends that data to whoever created the keylogger allowing them to read what you type and maybe even steal a few account name + password combinations. There are a few ways to guard against keyloggers – Keylogger Beater is one.
Keylogger Beater brings up a scrambled text inputter that randomly reassigns your keys. There are pairs of “real keys” and “shadow keys” where pressing the shadow key will input the real key. This will jumble up any key output in case you have a hidden keylogger on your system. If you don’t want to press keys at all, you can just hover over a key with your mouse for one second and Keylogger Beater will read that as an input.
Flash-based content is some of the most prolific content in the world. There are Flash games, Flash ads, Flash video players, and more. Unfortunately, while Flash is powerful, it is also slow and can be used for nefarious purposes. Flashblock assumes that all Flash content is malicious and preemptively blocks them from loading.
With Flashblock, when you load up a page, every instance of Flash will be replaced with a placeholder element. If you click on that element, that particular Flash content will be downloaded and viewed. For your convenience, you can set certain sites and domains to be whitelisted.
You know those Facebook “Like” buttons and Twitter “Tweet This” buttons that you see all across the Internet? They may be intrusive and distracting when poorly implemented, but they’re ultimately harmless, right? You may want to guess again. Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites that have embedded buttons can actually track you through those buttons even if you never click them.
One way to prevent button tracking is to prevent them from loading in the first place. ShareMeNot is an experimental Firefox addon that offers a different solution: it disables the tracking aspect of the button while loading it. If this is something that worries you, you should give ShareMeNot a run.
Security and privacy are important if you’re going to be involved in the Internet realm. You can stay safe with proper browsing habits and helpful web tools like Web of Trust, but once in a while you’re going to slip. When that happens, you’re going to wish you had a browser addon or two as a secondary layer of protection.
For maximum protection, use more than one of these addons simultaneously – as long as they are compatible, of course. If you know of any other great security and privacy addons for Firefox, please share them with us in the comments!
Image Credit: Social Media Signs Via Shutterstock