Safer web browsing

A quick look at the setup I use to browse the web more safely than the average Joe.

Decorative Image, PC Firewall WebI don’t often make recommendations because such things have a way of back firing. Instead I’d like to outline a few bits of my setup that helps me to browse the web with a little extra piece of mind. If you feel like trying any part of this then please acknowledge my usual software disclaimer.

The following tools are all add-ons for the Mozilla Firefox web browser so if you’re not using it and not ready to give it a try then most of this information will be of little value to you.  Some of these (or equivalent) tools will be available for other browsers.  If you’re already using Firefox then I suggest you upgrade to the latest version if you haven’t already done so.  (I’ve already written about the basics of making your computer more secure in a previous post here)

HTTPS-Everywhere

(get the HTTPS-Everywhere add-on here)

HTTPSYou can read more here in a previous post about HTTPS if you’re not sure what this means but to summarise, it’s a good thing.

This tool automatically forces your web browsing to use a secured connection for hundreds of websites that support HTTPS but don’t make it the default (for example, an on-line banking website would typically force any web browsing to use a secured connection).  This works for Google, Facebook, Twitter and many many more.

LocationBar2

(get the LocationBar2 add-on here)
LocationBar2 has a number of features but most importantly it highlights the domain part of the website in the address bar.  This makes it much easier to spot a spoofed website.  If the highlighted part of the web address does not match what you expect to see then be extra cautious before you enter any sensitive information.

Screenshot of fake Twitter login page

The image here is an example of a spoofed Twitter login page that was used in a scam that ran on the back of the Osama Bin Laden assassination (more information on the scam in this previous article).  The page looks very convincing and the only way to tell that it is not the real Twitter is by the address that has been carefully crafted to look like Twitter.

Flagfox

(get the Flagfox add-on here)

Flagfox exampleFlagfox adds a small icon at the end of the address bar that shows you which country the website you’re browsing is hosted in.  If for example  you saw a Russian flag while you thought you were browsing Facebook, that would raise an alarm.

The flag icon is also a gateway to a wealth of other information; hovering over the flag gives you quick info on the domain, IP address and country whereas right-clicking gives you a drop-down menu of choices.

Safe Address Bar exampleUsing these three simple and unobtrusive add-ons, the difference between the real Twitter website and the fake become more obvious.  Note the green flag, domain name and US flag shown for the real site.

There are many many more add-ons that provide similar or supporting security and privacy features but I like these three in particular due to their subtlety.  Some measure of observation is still required but these tools make it a little easier to spot trouble before it’s too late.

If you have any other add-ons or tools that you find particularly please leave a comment down below…

Hope this helps 🙂


Image Attribution: Thanks to jscreationzs and @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net for the image

2 thoughts on “Safer web browsing

  1. Susie

    Some good tips thanks. As a convert to Mozilla Firefox (on your recommendation) I will add these toolbars as well.

  2. Cat

    Thanks for doing this post. Glad to see you felt your readers could handle something this specific after all.

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