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.
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