Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fabulous Firefox Extensions

Wow...I'm going on what will (hopefully) be my final entry on this weekend blog-posting marathon

According to my count, this will be number twelve in 2 days.

Prolific Posting! And I even managed to get (most) of my weekend chores done, watch two NASCAR (Bush and Nextel Cup) races, some anime and DVD movies and still Lavie and Alvis haven't felt abandoned by me in the least.


So to cap off the weekend (and there will probably be a week worth of posting silence) here is one last push on some great Mozilla Extension Add-ons I've made friends with this week.

Thanks but No Thanks

Computer World recently posted a quite controversial post (to Firefox fans anyway): Top 10 Firefox extensions to avoid.

Funny thing is that Claus (and many, many other Firefox fans) uses a few of them quite happily, thank you very much!

In all fairness I think I understand the perspective the author was coming from, but I must respectfully disagree with a number of the recommendations.

I use Fasterfox but am careful to set it (usually) to the "Optimized" setting only. And I don't enable the pre-fetching option if has either.

I love NoScript and think that it is a must-have extension to enhance the security of Firefox while out browsing on the web. If something thinks they need it, chances are pretty fair they will understand how to use its basic features. I don't surf the web without it! (More later in the post!)

Adblock and Adblock Plus. Right now I am using AdBlock but may soon switch to Adblock Plus. What's the difference? This thread post (Neowin Forums > Adblock vs. Adblock Plus) provides a nice summary. Now I understand how some web content providers would like to dissuade their viewers from having this tool. After all, who wants to offend their advertising/revenue sponsorship? However I use it very selectively on only a few ads that I find really annoying or offensive. Nothing else. I usually don't mind web-ads as long as they don't intrude into the content. Seems fair.

I've skipped commenting on the others listed as I don't use them, but I could probably make a good case for a few more of them as well.

For Thunderbird

Mozilla released Thunderbird 2.0 this past week. I've been using the beta versions for some time and have really come to appreciate and love the updated features.

However, if for some reason you want to say, send an email at a later point in time, you can't really do it. Why would you want to do this? Nefarious alibi-generating reasons aside, I'm sure someone may need it.

Enter the Send Later extension for Thunderbird.

Compose your message, hit Ctrl-Shift-Enter and you will get a nice dialog box to allow you to set a transmittal time and date.

Great find via Lifehacker!

For Firefox Tips

New to Firefox and having trouble learning the shortcut key commands to various features?

Try the asdf-jkl extension from the Google Code gang.

It displays small pop-up tip tags as you hover over various items in Firefox.

I'm sure that after a while you will grow tired and want to turn it off, but by then (hopefully) you will have learned your Firefox keyboard shortcut drills!

Another great find from Lifehacker.

A Power Gmail Extension for Firefox?

You bet!

Better Gmail 0.3 (Firefox) - Lifehacker guru and editor, Gina Trapaini tossed together a fantastic Firefox extension for power-Gmail users.

It's chock full of so much Gmail goodness, I can't think of anything else to be added!

She started out on the project with Better Gmail (Firefox extension).

It packs in Saved Searches, Macros, Label Colors, a Filter Assistant, Conversation Preview, Attachment Reminder, Attachment Icons, the ability to hide invites, Gmail Super Clean, One-click conversations, unlabeling, Gmail Secure, Signature float, Gmail + Google Reader, Date Search, Spam Count hide, and probably some more I missed.

Whew! Nice work Gina!

It doesn't change your Gmail account, just how Gmail is displayed and interacted with in Firefox.

To come to terms with all these powerful Gmail tools and a few other Gmail related Firefox extensions, take a read on the Hack Attack: Supercharge your Gmail post at Lifehacker. Some of the tips even use video tutorials!

Gmail novices might want to first read the Lifehacker post Hack Attack: Become a Gmail master. Pro's might find some good refresher-content here as well!

If you are a Gmail user, it's well worth the time to install and learn how to use this fabulous extension.

More Mozilla Security

We've already covered the FireCAT list of security related extensions for Firefox from Security Database's dojo. Although, you may be interested to know it has been nicely updated recently.

I've also mentioned that I think the Dr.Web plug-in for Firefox is a must have. Use this little gem in your right-click context menu to run a quick scan on a link for baddies (files/links/scripts) before you click through. The scans are fast and it provides a measure of safety if you are clicking into the unknown.

Finjan SecureBrowsing Add-on extension. This free security add-on from Finjan (also available for Internet Explorer) scans the web pages as it loads, real-time for malicious content based on code-analysis. It then provides a safety rating for the page links. They claim it doesn't track or record site visits. More information here.

It currently supports the following domains...more may be added by the developer as the program matures.

  • Search Engines: Google, Yahoo, Live (msn)
  • Advertising systems: Google Adsense
  • Online email applications (AJAX-based): Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail
  • Popular Websites: MySpace, Digg, Slashdot, Blogger

While not something that most security-minded users would probably use regularly, it might be a helpful extension for your kids or parent's machines and help illustrate to them that there are "safe" sites and "unsafe" sites.

NoScript's site notes that the latest version comes with the threatening sounding "XSS Sniper" feature to protect against cross-site scripting attacks (with exception handling), and among other changes, adds in a "blacklist" feature as well. It's an amazing package!

I also run the Firekeeper extension on all my Firefox builds. While still beta, it is designed as an

...Intrusion Detection and Prevention System for Firefox. It is able to detect, block and warn the user about malicious sites. Firekeeper uses flexible rules similar to Snort ones to describe browser based attack attempts. Rules can also be used to effectively filter different kinds of unwanted content.

Other features of Firekeeper include:

  • Ability to scan incoming Firefox traffic - HTTP(S) response headers, body and URL and to cancel processing of suspicious responses.
  • HTTPS and compressed responses are scanned after decryption/decompression.
  • Very fast pattern matching algorithm (taken directly from Snort).
  • Interactive alerts that give an ability to choose a response to detected attack attempt.
  • Ability to use any number of files with rules and to automatically load files from remote locations.

Malware Block List Site

While I was there on the Firekeeper site I saw a link to the Malware Block List.

The Malware Block List site provides ", automated and user contributed system for checking URLs for the presence of Viruses, Trojans, Worms, or any other software considered Malware."

It comes in twenty-five formats for various applications, including those for ClamAV, the Firekeeper extension, Hosts files, Mozilla cookie filtering, Mozilla AdBlock extension, among others.

There are two versions of the lists, "Regular" which just blocks directories and "Aggressive" that blocks entire suspect domains.

While it may not seem much fun to constantly be installing updated lists, even periodic updates may provide an acceptable level of protection on some users' systems...again while of some value in corporate/business settings (say in the Hosts file) , it may be even more so for less web-savvy home family-member's computers by the geeks that support them.

This looks like a very active site community and is probably worth keeping in mind.

Have fun and stay safe with the Fox!


1 comment:

Erika said...
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