CyberNotes
Web Browser Wednesday




Two of Firefox’s slogans are “the browser you can trust” and “safer, faster, better” but maybe we can beef up the security a little more with the help of Firefox extensions. You can do everything else with extensions so why should adding more security and a little privacy be any different? Okay, lets jump right into it… –NoScript (Download)– NoScript Firefox ExtensionNoScript is one of the most popular extensions for Firefox and one of the simplest concepts. It will block all executable content, like JavaScript and Java, from every site until you put the site in your list of trusted domains. If you find a site that you want to run the scripts on then all you have to do is left-click on the icon in the status-bar or use the context menu to mark the site as trusted. Once you have done that you will experience that site as if you never installed the NoScript extension. –Google Safe Browsing (Download)– Google Safe Browsing Firefox ExtensionI receive phishing attempts all the time in my email but luckily GMail has caught every single one and filtered it as spam. For a lot of people the phishing scams are pretty obvious when you receive an email from PayPal asking you to enter in every piece of information that makes you unique. From your credit card numbers to social security numbers the scammers want to get it all…but Google wants to help stop them! The Google Safe Browsing extension is important for almost everyone to use. It will try to distinguish the site you are visiting from a list of phishing sites and will warn you if any forgery is detected. This feature was deemed so important for users that Mozilla decided to put it in the upcoming release of Firefox 2. If you aren’t running a pre-release version of Firefox 2 then you should definitely have this extension installed! –McAfee SiteAdvisor (Download)– McAfee SiteAdvisor Firefox ExtensionWhen doing a search it is often difficult to know what a resulting site is going to lead you to. What if you could get a heads up before you even clicked on a link? McAfee SiteAdvisor will give you a quick report on your search results from Yahoo, Google, or MSN. It has a foolproof labeling scheme that is sure to catch everyone’s attention: green means the site is clean, yellow means the site may try to change your browser’s default settings, and red means you need to watch what you download from that site because it could be infested with adware. You can find out all of that information before you even visit the site. For an example of a full site report checkout the one on Kazaa.com which also has a lot of user comments :) . –Stealther (Download)– Stealther Firefox ExtensionMost people know how easy it is to clear your data in Firefox. You just have to go to your Tools menu, select “Clear private data” and choose which data you want to clear. That is easy and all but what if you don’t want to lose all of your browser history or saved form information? With the help of Stealther you can temporarily disable several privacy features:
  • Browsing History (also in Address bar)
  • Cookies
  • Downloaded Files History
  • Disk Cache
  • Saved Form Information
  • Sending of ReferrerHeader

Once you enable the extension it will block any of the chosen options from being saved and Firefox will immediately resume normal operation once you disable Stealther. It can be quickly enabled/disabled by using the Tools menu, toolbar button, or the Ctrl+Shift+S keyboard shortcut. –PasswordMaker (Download)– PasswordMaker Firefox ExtensionThis is probably one of my favorite Firefox extensions because it solves one of the biggest problems that plague most people: secure passwords! You know that there is one or two passwords that you continually use between several (possibly hundreds) of sites. You have one password for sites that you really really trust and another password for sites that you aren’t quite sure about and don’t want to take any risks. You can change your habits by using Password Maker which will generate a secure password for you and all you have to remember is your master password. Heck, that is even better than before because now you only have to remember one password! It uses some very secure techniques to generate your password based upon several factors and the great thing is that the passwords aren’t stored anywhere! PasswordMaker will generate the password each time you visit a site, and if you happen to be on a computer without the extension installed you can use the Online version. You may think it sounds like a pain but PasswordMaker will fill in a login form with just one click! I don’t think I could ask for anymore from it. –SpoofStick (Download)– SpoofStick Firefox ExtensionThis is another way to catch those sites that are using the technique known as phishing. The SpoofStick extension will show a toolbar that will inform you of the actual domain that you are visiting. It isn’t as good of a solution as the Google Safe Browsing mentioned above but it could definitely be used with it. If you tried to visit a site such as “http://signin.ebay.com@10.19.32.4/” (which is similar to many phishing emails) the toolbar will report that “You’re on 10.19.32.4″. That will obviously catch your attention and hopefully prevent you from continuing to browse the site. –Netcraft Toolbar (Download)– Netcraft Firefox ExtensionAhhh, yet another anti-phishing extension for Firefox. These types of extensions are so prominent because identity theft is becoming an increasing problem. The Netcraft Anti-Phishing Toolbar is what I consider “THE” tool to ensure that you know where your personal information is going. Not only do they notify you of phishing sites but they also make it extremely easy to report a site to them if you believe it has suspicious content. You may have asked yourself “what about a pop-up window that blocks toolbars?” The developers over at Netcraft have already thought about that and they will force the toolbar to stay open…even in pop-up windows! Try it out and you’ll find that it has a lot of really great features that will help keep you protected. –FormFox (Download)– FormFox Firefox ExtensionFormFox could also be classified in the anti-phishing category because it will show you where the data that you have entered in a form will be sent. It will show you the destination immediately when you hover your mouse over the “submit” button. One thing I would like to see in this extension is an option to make it display the destination of a form immediately when you click in the first box. It could show it off to the side so that it is out of the way but I think that having to hover over the submit button could be a little late for some people. Natural instinct for most people would be to click on the button right away and submit the form before they are able to verify the receiving site. –Dr. Web Anti-Virus Link Checker (Download)– Dr. Web Anti-Virus Link Checker Firefox ExtensionEveryone is worried that they are going to be the unlucky soul that downloads a virus. The Dr. Web Anti-Virus Link Checker Extension (whew, that is a mouthful) will scan a file for a virus before you even download it to your computer. It is as simple as right-clicking on the link and selecting “Scan with Dr. Web” from the menu. To show you what downloading a virus would look like I went ahead and tried to download the EICAR anti-virus test file. Here is the resulting pop-up window that I received:

Dr. Web Anti-Virus Link Checker Firefox Extension Testing

As you can see it effectively caught the file before it even made itself onto my computer. You probably come across sites all the time that you are a little skeptical on downloading from so don’t even take a risk…get the Dr. Web extension! –JavaScript Options (Download)– JavaScript Options Firefox ExtensionJavaScript can give some sites a little too much control over your browser but the JavaScript Options extension aims to put the control back in your hands. The screenshot to the right shows you just a few of the options it contains and those happen to be my pet peeves. I hate when a pop-up window opens up and there is no address and navigation toolbar. I would always end up having to right-click and use the back button located in the context menu, but that won’t happen anymore. –Overview– That is the list of extensions I managed to find that will make your Firefox browsing experience even safer. Many of these extensions have not been updated to work with the upcoming release of Firefox 2 but I hope the developers will take the time to make sure they run smooth. Just like with all Firefox extensions you need to make sure you let the developers know how much you love their extension so that they will continue to update it. That way Firefox will truly be the “browser you can trust”.

Get Firefox!