Now, be warned that none of these are going to be completely foolproof. In fact, there’s is no completely safe way to use the Internet. But for most regular users, the protection that these extensions and tools offer will be enough as safeguards.
One of the first extensions you should install in Firefox is HTTPS Everywhere, which encrypts much of your web browsing.
What’s HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure? HTTPS is a standard that adds security by encrypting all data to and from some websites. You basically know it’s turned on when you see “https://” in the address bar,instead of “http://”.Many websites, including Gmail and Facebook, enable this by default – but some leave it off by default. Be safe: get HTTPS Everywhere, a collaboration between the TOR Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The only purpose of this extension is to turn any HTTP link into an HTTPS link, f a website supports it.
You may be surprised to hear that popular extension Adblock Plus can do a lot more than just stop annoying ads. In fact, it’s one of the best and easiest ways to stop worms, trojans and other types of malware. To do this, Adblock Plus relies upon the good folks at MalwareDomains.com, who constantly keep updating a list of all the domains on the internet which contain an attempt by someone to cause harm to your computer. This updated list can be subscribed to if you use Adblock Plus. To do that, head to the Adblock Plus subscriptions page and scroll down to “Malware Domains” under the Miscellaneous section. Hit the “Subscribe: Malware Domains” link and after a brief pop-up window, you’ll be protected. Any time you visit a malicious link, Adblock Plus will now simply block you from visiting it.
We do have one request if you use Adblock Plus. Please whitelist MakeUseOf, and here’s a good reason why.
It’s common knowledge now that websites track you to sell ads, including giants like Google and Facebook. DoNotTrackMe (DNTM) is the best way to stop these guys in their tracks. Formerly known as Do Not Track Plus, this extension by Abine will notify you of all the data any web page is trying to track when you visit it. Once you have it installed and you go to any website, it will automatically stop various trackers on the site, like Google Adsense, Demandbase, Doubleclick, Facebook Connect, Twitter, Google +1, LinkedIn and more. Of course, you need to have “Don’t track my browsing here” activated, and you can switch it off at any time.
One cool feature in DNTM is the email mask. You know how you visit a website and are compelled to put in your email address for whatever reason, and then are subjected to spam? Well, there are some great services for disposable emails, but DNTM makes it easier because it’s integrated in your browser and comes with a handy dashboard. When you type out our email in the provided box, the extension will ask if you want to mask it. Select yes and Abine will throw in a random email address, which auto-forwards all mails to that email you just typed out. So if you want to stop that website from sending you emails at any point, all you need to do is head to your DNTM dashboard and disable that masked disposable email. It’s super simple and it helps protect you.
Additionally, for a price of $5 per month, DNTM will also provide a disposable mask for your phone number and your credit card.
An alternative to DoNotTrackMe, Ghostery does the same job but without the email mask. So why mention it? Well, opinion is split regarding which of the two is better at stopping trackers and protecting you.
I tested both the extensions by visiting the 20 different websites I go to most often, and a further 10 random websites from my History. In all cases, the difference between what the two detected was negligible. In a couple of instances, Ghostery detected one extra tracker; in one instance, DNTM was better.
When you want to block social networks from tracking you, Ghostery’s advantage lies in the fact that you can click on any of the blocked trackers to find out more about them. This kind of information might help those who can understand such data, but for the layman, it’s not a big enough feature to make a difference.
I’d recommend sticking with DNTM, but there’s nothing wrong with picking Ghostery if you like that more. To each his own.
Private Tab [No Longer Available]
The incognito mode or “Private Window” feature of is pretty handy for things like signing into multiple accounts, or checking for price discrimination. Plus, private mode disables cookies. Now, there’s no reason to start a whole new window for that, there’s a Firefox extension that lets you create a new private tab; and it’s aptly named.
Install Private Tab and you can quickly turn any page into a private tab by right-clicking the title or hitting the Ctrl+Alt+T keyboard shortcut. Then, just use it as you would any tab in a private window. And the rest of your Firefox session is working as usual. Simple and easy.
Say what you want about Google, but in my experience, it still gives the best search results—better than DuckDuckGo or any other competitor. But that doesn’t mean I need to give over all my data to Google. All that’s needed is a simple little extension called Disconnect Search to use search engines without being tracked.
This tool lets you search privately using your favourite search engine. In fact, the VPN technique Disconnect Search uses also thwarts your ISP from seeing your search terms. It currently supports Google, Bing, Yahoo, Blekko and DuckDuckGo—but only one at a time. The best part is that it can be configured to work with your search bar and omnibar, as well as with the websites of these search engines.
Protect Yourself On Chrome
Most of the extensions listed here also work with Google Chrome, except for Private Tab. An alternative for that is MultiLogin. But if you want to stick with Firefox, then apart from securing yourself with these add-ons, grab the unofficial manual for Mozilla Firefox and really maximize your internet browsing.
Padlock image credit: tpsdave