Firefox Better Surfing

This document aims to serve two main purposes, security and a better experience surfing the internet. You are more than welcome to comment and offer feedback, even opinions about other products that do the same or better than what’s mentioned in this document.

This document is provided for use with Firefox for Linux, OS X and Windows unless it is stated otherwise differently. If there are enough requests for a different browser, an updated version of this document may be published for that specific browser.

There is no one-stop solution when it comes to a web browser, at least not that I am aware of. This said, you must be aware that this is a multiple tier setup, that takes a few minutes to setup and you’re good to go from that point after.

This document will be updated, as new content is available.

You may download this document for offline viewing by clicking here.

Advertisement Battleground

Let’s face the facts; the internet is a full-blown battleground when it comes to advertising and marketing schemes. It’s also one of the most known methods to get a product or service known. However, advertising has become more abusive and intrusive over the years, especially if you’re on limited bandwidth and/or a slow system. To eliminate most, if not all advertising on a site, we have many options that are available to us, and are completely free.

This also goes without saying that some sites have opted in to preventing content from being shown to you due to these methods and techniques, but thankfully for the ability to “white list” sites and domains, you can allow that specific site and domain while keeping the others at bay.

First we have a very popular plugin called NoScript Security Suite that is available for free at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/noscript/, and offers a nice deal of protection, and is one of the very first extensions that I personally install on any new installation of Firefox. As you will see on the URL, it helps by protecting you from being click-jacked and XSS attacks, and comes in handy more often then you would think otherwise.

Secondly, we have AdBlock Plus, which blocks and prevent those annoying video advertisements from showing up, and can be installed completely free of charge at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/adblock-plus/. This is not only good to conserve your precious bandwidth, but can also speed up your surfing speeds and system. Another good thing is if you have a person or people sleeping nearby, those annoying video advertisements won’t wake up anyone up, because they won’t play.

Third, and certainly not last item that will be mentioned, we have Flashblock that is available for free at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/flashblock/. This plugin for Firefox makes sure that Flash items are not played automatically, so again you’ll save on precious resources and bandwidth, and not have to worry about security risks and issues that are related to Flash as much. And while Flash is a dying technology that will eventually never be used, it’s still actively used at the time of the creation of this document. It’s better safe than sorry, right?

Encrypted Connectivity

The chances are that when you’re connecting to a web site, that you’re probably using HTTP and not HTTPS. When you’re accessing a site that uses HTTPS, it’s assumed that everything is and must be encrypted, but the truth be told, HTTPS can also access and delivery content from HTTP, usually warning you that some content is not encrypted and may not be safe.

Here are some but not all examples:

  1. You can access a site to create an account and use that account on both HTTP and HTTPS based connections, but HTTPS is the recommended method.
  2. You can access the site through HTTP and create and access the account on HTTPS connections, which is slightly more secure and preferred.
  3. You can access the site to create and use an account over HTTPS without any HTTP use, which is the best practice. However, any content that HTTPS uses that’s from HTTP, can give the wrong impression.

Now with keeping on the subject, “Encrypted Connectivity”, many sites such as America Online, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo! And many others can be accessed using both methods, HTTP and HTTPS. When you access a site, say for example, Facebook, you could easily use http://www.facebook.com/ or you could equally use https://www.facebook.com/ and get the same content, and use the service as you normally would on either connection type. The same applies to the others mentioned in this document, and for many others.

What if you’re used to typing just “www” or “http://www” and the site? Sure they’ll both default you to the HTTP, unless it’s set by preference, or they force HTTPS on to you, but what if they don’t? There’s a nice extension for Firefox called HTTPS Everywhere. You can download, install and use it completely free of charge directly from https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere.

Excerpt from eff.org, “HTTPS Everywhere is produced as a collaboration between The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Many sites on the web offer some limited support for encryption over HTTPS, but make it difficult to use. For instance, they may default to unencrypted HTTP, or fill encrypted pages with links that go back to the unencrypted site. The HTTPS Everywhere extension fixes these problems by using clever technology to rewrite requests to these sites to HTTPS. Information about how to access the project’s Git repository and get involved in development is here.

You may download this document for offline viewing by clicking here.