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make firefox privateWhen 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 Stay Safe & Private With These 5 Encryption Add-Ons [Firefox] Stay Safe & Private With These 5 Encryption Add-Ons [Firefox] Ciphers have been used throughout history to maintain secrecy and security for sensitive pieces of data. Instead of leaving important information out in the open and available to anyone for reading, these ciphers kept knowledge... Read More 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.

BetterPrivacy

make firefox private

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.

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Ghostery

make firefox private browsing

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.

When you have trackers on you, Ghostery presents you with the tracking company’s privacy policy and any opt-out actions you can take. If you don’t trust the company at all, you can flat-out block them – scripts, Flash cookies, and even images.

NoScript

make firefox private browsing

NoScript is a strict security addon that only allows whitelisted sites from running scripts and executable content on your browser – Java, JavaScript, etc. It’s a preemptive safety method that minimizes the threat of accidentally stumbling upon a malicious website and having them do something shady on your computer.

With NoScript, you’ll be guarded against cross-site scripting vulnerabilities (XSS) What's Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), & Why It Is A Security Threat What's Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), & Why It Is A Security Threat Cross-site scripting vulnerabilities are the biggest website security problem today. Studies have found they’re shockingly common – 55% of websites contained XSS vulnerabilities in 2011, according to White Hat Security’s latest report, released in June... Read More , cross-zone DNS rebinding and CSRF attacks (router hacking), and clickjacking attempts.

Keylogger Beater

make firefox private browsing

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 Don't Fall Victim to Keyloggers: Use These Important Anti-Keylogger Tools Don't Fall Victim to Keyloggers: Use These Important Anti-Keylogger Tools In cases of online identity theft, keyloggers play one of the most important roles in the actual act of stealing. If you’ve ever had an online account stolen from you - whether it was for... Read More  – 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.

Flashblock

firefox security

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.

Note: Flashblock does not work if you have JavaScript disabled OR if you have NoScript enabled.

ShareMeNot

make firefox private

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.

Conclusion

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 Browse Safely With Your Own Internet Bodyguard Called WOT Browse Safely With Your Own Internet Bodyguard Called WOT Read More , 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

  1. AriesWarlock
    July 6, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    I am trying Disconnect, and it works well.

  2. Soul
    May 19, 2013 at 10:47 am

    There is a setting in About:config that does what FlashBlock does.

    Search for "click_to_play" and set to "True"

  3. Keith S
    May 18, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    THANKS, Joel! I'm a committed Firefox user & I'll be sure to check these out!

  4. null
    May 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    I use several of these addons,but one useful freeware program was not mentioned: Sandboxie.This app sandboxes everything you do on the net,and would keep a keylogger,for example,from getting to your real harddrive. I was using Keyscrambler,but they are not compatible with FF 20.0.1,so I might give Keylogger Beater a try.

  5. Scott M
    May 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    I don't find any difference really between Firefox and Chrome when it comes to security.They both offer almost identical extensions.Linux is also available if there is a concern of privacy.I use both Firefox and Chrome for different reasons.I find Firefox work add-ons more useful in the main than Chrome but I use Chrome when I desire speed for doing research.I find Firefox slow in comparison.

  6. BiG eViL.......
    May 18, 2013 at 9:26 am

    very useful utilities will sure check them out!

  7. Mahesh Kay
    May 18, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I am not sure if this applies but using firefox in private browsing mode, gives some security in terms of tracking?

    • Joel Lee
      May 24, 2013 at 12:04 am

      While in private browsing, your browser will not store cookies, so yes there is some added level of privacy. Whether or not it's worth it, people will keep debating.

  8. Doc
    May 18, 2013 at 6:45 am

    Don't forget AdBlock Plus (which will keep scripts from advertising domains from loading) and Disconnect (which allows you to see and control what advertising, analytics, and social content a website can load).

  9. Rajdeepak Singh
    May 17, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Fireox is the best browser to my experience and large addons collection virtually oers u everything we wish.Flash block proved very usefull,thx

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