Guest post by Melissa Tamura
With cyber-crimes at an all time high, it is more important than ever to watch internet habits and be vigilant about protecting online privacy. Unscrupulous people can hack into email accounts, bank accounts, and other important online resource and strip them of their funds. Worse yet, identities can be stolen, which can take years to fix. Internet browsers like Firefox offer several plugins that are the front line of defense against cyber-criminals. Here are ten must have privacy plug ins for Firefox.
Cookies are major sources of privacy leaks on a computer. Cookies are small files that are on a computer that allow a website to store information about a user’s preferences when using the site. However, cookies can also be used to track a person’s online activity. Cookies can be deleted by going to an internet browser’s options menu and choosing to remove them, however, cookies have evolved are are becoming more and more difficult to remove. These hidden cookies are often missed by cookie clean up programs. Better Privacy is a plug in that has the capability to remove these new, hidden cookies, allowing the user to choose to remove them if they desire.
Privacy + 1.0.1 works in much the same way as Better Privacy. It detects and deletes hidden flash based cookies, which do not expire and are often not detectable through conventional means. Privacy + 1.0.1 adds a menu into the Firefox options center which allows a user to disable and delete these flash cookies.
Search indexing engines routinely track and keep records on individual searches made by their users. In order to protect the privacy of those using search engines, Ixquick Privacy Search Engine has been developed. Ixquick Privacy Search Engine does not record data or track behavior like Google or other major search engines. This plug in adds a quick link search box for Ixquick in the browser window that allows quick access to the privacy based search engine.
Every time a person surfs the web, they leave evidence of their activities on their own computers. Anyone with access to the computer can see a person’s browsing history very easily. In order to combat this, Stealther temporarily disables browsing history, download history, cache, cookies, and saved form information from the local computer after use.
Sometimes in office situations or in places where privacy is demanded, it can be handy to be able to browse a website without its name being posted at the top of all active windows. Even when the browser window is minimized the name of the website is still visible. Page Title Eraser fixes this problem by removing all page titles from the browser window.
Records of IP numbers are kept by all web servers when users visit sites hosted on them. For those interested in keeping their IP number anonymous, Phzilla acts as a third party. Phzilla stores the website that is being requested into its own memory, which the user can view without having to actually visit the real site and having their IP number recorded.
Major search engines are notorious for tracking user data and internet surfing habits in order to target them for advertisements that are customized to complement their interests. Targeted Advertising Cookie Opt-Out (TACO) blocks the advertisements of more than 100 companies by permanently implanting “opt out” cookies into Firefox. These “opt out” cookies are not deleted when regular cookies are removed. They can be removed only by removing the plug in, thus allowing constant blocking of targeted advertisements.
NoScript allows a user to permit or block java scripts at their discretion. Java scripts are often used to redirect users from other pages and to make advertisements pop up. They can also be used to install viruses to a personal computer.
As search engine tracking has become more and more common, it’s increasingly necessary for users to find out who is tracking them and for what purpose. Ghostery allows users to easily find out who is tracking their behavior and allows them to stop advertisements from these companies. It also features a list of 200 common internet advertisers, which the plugin will automatically block.
Often cyber-criminal activity can be traced to countries outside of a user’s own. This plug in gives valuable information about where an internet server is located and who owns it. It also detects for spyware and malware when visiting a website. In addition, Flagfox can translate web pages into different languages and allow users to perform trace routes and pings in order to determine connectivity problems.
This is a guest post by Melissa Tamura who writes about online schools for Zen College Life. She most recently wrote about psychology colleges.