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Think you are safe on the internet because you use Firefox? Think again. With the market share of Firefox increasing daily – more malware and virus authors (and websites) are exploiting this browser to spread their wares.

Fortunately, the open nature of Firefox typically makes fixes come shortly after a vulnerability is discovered, and also allows for addons which can further increase your security online.

Here is a short list of top scripts to help you keep safe while browsing the web. Some of these may exchange usability for security, so see what works for you and go with it!

1. NoScript

This addon blocks JavaScript, Java, Flash and other executable content from running in your browser unless you specifically tell it to allow from a particular site.


Why does this increase your security? Many malicious sites will use JavaScript or one of these types of programs as an attack vector. However, since these programs are so prevalent on the WWW these days, much functionality is lost by blocking everything. For me personally, I visit a handful of sites on a constant basis then the rest of my web browsing is done on random websites where I am not familiar with them except for a once-and-done visit. Blocking scripts on these sorts of unknown sites is a good idea if you are conscious about security.

2. Foxy Proxy

FoxyProxy is an addon that gives you a GUI to switch your connection settings to certain proxies based on pattern matching URLs that you are visiting. Simply put, it manages your connection settings for you in a (more) secure manner. For advanced users, you can set up a proxy somewhere (at home, at work) and then use that proxy while browsing somewhere else to funnel your traffic through. If this link is encrypted, it gives you a safe “tunnel” to browse the internet through if you are at an unknown location.

For those who do not know how to set up their own proxy server, you can install a Tor client to join the Tor network which will proxy your traffic among many different points. For Windows users, this means installing Vidalia and starting up the Tor client. Running your traffic over the Tor client helps to keep you anonymous but also can decrease your security since your information may be going out over unknown networks.

Also a downside to using Tor (which doesnt necessarily apply to using other proxies) is that your internet connection becomes very slow as the Tor network complicates the route of information you download from websites.

3. Password Hasher

This addon will allow you to create and store unique passwords for every site that you need to create a login for. Instead of using the same, or same few passwords for each site – this tool will generate a random password for you based on a single master password. Therefore, you need to just remember this one password to keep all of your passwords safe. Also, you can backup your passwords to another place (a USB drive?) to store for safe keeping.

4. SafeCache

Safecache will compartmentalize your cache based on the originating document. With the default install of Firefox, a website can possibly perform attacks to see if you have visited certain sites if you have used their images on another website. This addon reduces this threat by “breaking up” the cache into separate files.

5. SafeHistory

This addon is authored by the same author as SafeCache above. It removes Firefox’s ability to retain history for externally referred links – this prevents cross-site privacy attacks. It also means you will no longer have a history dropdown bar available, and Firefox’s “Sorting by Most Visted” options for bookmarks.

6. SeatBelt

Verisign’s Seatbelt addon allows you to add your OpenID Providers, manages your current signed in status, and will fill in OpenID URL’s when you visit a supported website. Also included is an anti-phishing feature which will check a site against a list of bad providers and alert you if it thinks you are being phished. I use this plugin to manage my OpenID.

See my previous post on OpenID What Is OpenID? Four Awesome Providers What Is OpenID? Four Awesome Providers Read More and why I think it is a good idea to have one.

7. CS Lite

CS Lite is a lightweight version of Cookie Safe. This allows you to block cookies from being accepted, or allowing them on a per-site basis. You can also view, edit and clear cookies with this addon. This is great because cookies are used to track your web browsing habits, so for a privacy enthusiast, this plugin is a must have!

8. WebOfTrust (WOT)

Web Of Trust is a ‘community’ of people who browse the web and ‘rate’ sites. This extension will add a small icon next to the URL of the website which will show if it is a good website (green), bad website (red) or unknown (yellow). Using this plugin will help you determine and stay away from malicious sites. It can help you stay away from viruses, adware, malware, exploits, ‘bad’ online stores, phishing sites and other internet scams.

These eight firefox extensions represent the ‘cream of the crop’ in security addons. For a full listing of privacy and security addons for Firefox, visit the addon page. Don’t forget, always use common sense while browsing the web. If something is too good to be true, it probably is!

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