The Internet has changed the way we access information and communicate with each other. During the early years of development, everybody just knew that the World Wide Web was going to be the next-generation platform to share ideas, news, music, images, and buy things in a quick efficient manner. As it turned out, the Internet fulfilled that hope but with some massive caveats.
In modern days, the simple act of browsing the Internet carries a multitude of security concerns from malware to web trackers that corrode your sense of safety and privacy. Fortunately, all popular Internet browsers offer adequate features or extensions with which users can defend against various forms on online safety risks. For example, Mozilla Firefox allows users to install additional applications directly to the browser for better security. There are hundreds of extensions. Many of them are designed specifically to provide better safety, security, and privacy for users.
Extensions for Firefox are available at the Mozilla add-ons page. Here you can browse through several categories to find the right extensions for your needs. For privacy and security purposes, choose the “Stay Safe Online” category. Don’t be surprised if you see only several extensions on the page. You can explore more by clicking the link beneath each category. To access the extensions you have already installed, go to Firefox homepage and click on the “hamburger” menu icon (≡) or use Ctrl+Shift+A shortcut keys. Now let us take a look at some of the most popular extensions for Firefox to enhance the safety and security of your online activities.
AD BLOCKERS: Adblock Plus and uBlock Origin
Both Adblock Plus and uBlock Origin do more or less the same thing, and that is blocking intrusive ads from website pages you visit. Some ads are just too distracting and they unnecessarily consume your bandwidth. Thanks to ad blockers, the page will load faster and you get to experience more enjoyable browsing each time. Adblockers also protect you from viruses as cybercriminals like to insert malicious code into ads.
When it comes to popularity, Adblock Plus is more widely-used than uBlock Origin. In fact, there is no extension of its kind that comes close to the number of users that Adblock Plus has. By default, Adblock Plus will not block all ads. The extension allows ads to be displayed as long as they are considered “acceptable” to support the developers. Adblock Plus is open-source; however, it has the right to charge large companies for white-listing services. The developers claim that 90% of their partners get the same service for free. On the users’ part, this means they may still see some ads even if they use the extension. Another open-source extension with the same function is uBlock Origin. It claims to carry all functions that Adblock Plus offers yet consumes fewer system resources.
SAFE SEARCH: DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials
If you have been searching online for secure browser option, you probably have come across a search engine known as DuckDuckGo. It has earned the reputation as a privacy-focused search engine as it does not track your online activities (mainly searches), unlike its more familiar counterparts such as Google and Bing. The company has expanded that idea into an extension available for Firefox browser.
Once installed, the extension does its job by changing the default search engine into DuckDuckGo. Now that no one can track you, it continues to protect your privacy on any website you visit. The built-in privacy protection blocks any-third party tracker to prevent anyone from figuring out what websites you visit and what content you have on the screen. One of the best features is that DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials will try to force insecure websites with HTTP protocol to use the safer HTTPS one. Due to the privacy-approach it takes, the search engine may give you slightly different search results than Bing or Google. DuckDuckGo gives you the best results – rather than most results – from over 400 sources including crowd-sourced sites.
SCRIPT BLOCKERS: NoScript Security Suite
VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORKS: ibVPN – Best VPN & Proxy
The best way to protect online privacy is to stay anonymous on the web and encrypt all your traffic. You can do that by installing a VPN client. Some VPN clients are available as stand-alone applications and they cover all incoming and outgoing connections. In Firefox, you can install a VPN client as an extension to make the process much simpler. A fine example of such extension is ibNPN (click here) which offers simple interface yet with a long list of features for internet security, privacy protection, identity theft prevention, and overall secure browsing. Starting from version 2.0, the ibVPN even has Guest Mode with no sign-up required. Features include:
- Third-party web trackers protection
- Bypass List to access websites without a proxy
- Public IP address secrecy when browsing the Internet using Firefox
- Unlimited bandwidth. Both free and premium versions have no data usage monitoring
- DNS leak protection
- Access worldwide websites and online entertainment contents regardless of your locations
- ibVPN uses its own server network; no third-party proxies involved
This extension works with all common security protocols including OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, and SSTP. If you are browsing in Private Window, make sure you allow ibVPN to work normally. You can access the option by going to the settings page.
ENCRYPTION: HTTPS Everywhere
To further enhance security regardless of the websites you visit, HTTPS Everywhere is a great extension for the purpose. It is developed by a collaboration between EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and The Tor Project to help the user who visit websites which are still stuck in the HTTP protocol – access them via HTTPS protocol. In Firefox, a secure connection is indicated by green padlock icon located to the left of the address bar; if you don’t see it (or see the padlock in any other colors) your connection is insecure.