Tag Archives: https

Could Privacy Law Limitations kill the Internet Dream?

Is Privacy a fundamental human right? Your personal answer to this question is the starting point to think about the current Internet legislation and to evaluate if the recent legal restrictions on civil rights could represent the “end of the Internet Dream.” A clear and motivated opinion about this issue is a strategic keypoint for all those people who, as me, operate everyday in one of the many Internet branches as consultants, lawyers, programmers, marketing experts, investors or, more often, as common users.

Dan Gillmor, via BACKCHANNEL, has recently underlined that a liberal legislation should not restrict end to end encryption, because it represents the best safeguards for tomorrow’s freedom. A standard use of fragile encryption, imposed by Law, will not only interfere with privacy, but will also heavily tamper with Internet global security.


Image by quotesgram.com

On the other hand, Dan Patterson, via TECHREPUBLIC, has reported two different conversations with UN reporters who affirmed that strong encryption allows privacy and privacy is the corner stone of truth, especially for reporters, because it helps to “validate the veracity of information.”

Consequently, to preserve our privacy in our daily living it would be useful to:

  • Use Privilege VPN or  HTTPS connections when you surf Internet;
  • Use Encrypted Storage for your data, especially if you cannot avoid using cloud-based services;
  • Watch the Legislator: contact the MP/Politician who represents you and express your point of view, each time a restrictive Law proposal is under discussion.

As Citizens, the real challenge we have for the next months is represented by the influence we will be able to exercise on new Laws that should find a legal equilibrium between anti-terrorism surveillance and the need of protecting citizen’s personal information allowing the use of VPN/HTTPS connections and Encrypted Storage.

A small collection of Firefox add-ons you can install to improve (a little bit) your privacy – Part 3

In the past two years the EFF – Electronic Frontier Foundation –  has released a couple of add-ons specifically created to improve your privacy when you are on Internet. Just for a quick information, EFF is a no-profit organization specialized in, but not only, the defense of  privacy and free expression in the contemporary “world of emerging technologies”.

The first interesting EFF add-on is HTTPS Everywhere  that forces websites to provide https webpages also when you (better: your browser) asked for a “common” HTTP connection to their servers. This happens automatically and you don’t usually notice any delay in your navigation speed. HTTPS Everywhere is a precious add-on because it improves the number of “secured” connections when you are on Internet and decreases the risks of information leaking during Internet navigation. Moreover, this add-on is available not only for Firefox but also for Chrome and Opera and, at the moment, could be considered as the most versatile and -simple to use- tool you have to increase the use of HTTPS navigation. HTTPS Everywhere could not be considered as a bullet-proof privacy guarantee but it really does what he promises. Last but not least, it seems that if you adhere to their anonymous data collection about usage, you can really help them to discover false HTTPS certification disseminated through the web and contribute to a safer Internet.

If you want a little bit of security and think that every website should allow to connect through HTTPS, you should try HTTP Nowhere  that blocks all the unencrypted web communications. As for what we described for Flash add-ons (Flash Control and Flash Block) the level of security depends on your choice. HTTP Nowhere is a more “radical” choice but, i any case, it can be widely configured to your needs. For example it allows you to create a whitelist of HTTP websites that will be never blocked. Moreover HTTP Nowhere can be configured to visit .onion websites through TOR.

In  any case don’t forget that HTTPS connections are only relatively more secure than HTTP ones. As someone commented, HTTPS effective privacy depends on Certificate Authorities reliability and seriousness and, in some cases, HTTPS could be easily eluded. 

The other EFF add-on I’d like to focus your attention is the Privacy Badger . This add-on has the same goals of the most famous Ad Block or Disconnect but it works in a different way. In fact its work is not based of previously compiled list the needs to be updated frequently but on an heuristic examination of trackers behaviour. It could be considered “democratic” because it doesn’t automatically ban trackers at all but analyzes if they are looking for your web habits or they are “just” recording your passage in a specific website. In this last case the Privacy Badger will observe their behaviour during your next navigation and, if they persist to track you, it will label them with different colours (green to yellow to red) blocking them when they become too intrusive for your privacy. The PRO is that also a brand new tracker -never reviewed by security advisers- will be promptly discovered and neutralized but the CONS is represented by the fact that also the most known intrusive tracker will be initially allowed to register your habits.

For its intrinsic features, the Privacy Badger could be added to Firefox as an extra barrier to fight trackers and improve your privacy. In the next post we will examine other add-ons that can be matched with it.

Watch your privacy! Upgrade your Firefox security with HTTPS Everywhere and HTTPS Finder!

As we already discussed many times in this blog, we know that web security is something very difficult to reach but we can always try to improve our security when surfing into the web.

First of all, use Firefox! Do it! In my opinion it’s slower than Chrome but very “transparent” and so you have less risks to unintentionally share information you want to keep private. In my experience, Firefox could be safer than Chrome if you use the right adds-on.

Then, install a particular add-on named HTTPS Everywhere.

This add-on (for Firefox and Chrome) will automatically connect your browser to the https version of many websites contained in its “Rule list”. The number of https connections in the HTTPS Everywhere’s list is sufficiently wide and you can always decide to manually add new https addresses (more info) as in the following example:

<ruleset name=”Google”>
<target host=”www.google.com” />
<target host=”google.com” />

<rule from=”^http://(www\.)?google\.com/” to=”https://google.com/”/&gt;

If you prefer to save time and you don’t want to write some lines for every website you prefer to connect through https, you will install another add-on: HTTPS Finder. HTTPS Finder is perfectly interconnected with HTTPS Everywhere and it will try to reach every website you type into the address bar, using a https connection. If it finds a valid https website, it will ask you if you want to add a specific rule into HTTPS Everywhere rule list. At this point you have only to agree and the new rule will be stored in the list.

Simple, easy, useful! Bookmark this page!