Archive for May 1st, 2008

As I can easily tell by looking at flashgot.net and noscript.net Apache logs, every day the blogosphere gets flooded by copycat articles about "Top 5 Firefox Extensions" or "Best 10 Add-ons".
Yesterday, though, I've been pleased by a slightly different variation: Keeping Safe on the Web: 8 Firefox Addons for Privacy and Security.

  • Once in a while, this is not just a rehash of an AMO category, like recommended or popular.
  • Its items count is a power of 2, rather than banally a divisor or a multiplier of 10 ;)
  • It features two often neglected extensions by Stanford University, Safe History and Safe Cache, which can effectively mitigate some interesting attacks on our privacy. Any web page can quite easily discover if we've visited certain sites by exploiting our navigation history visual feedback or the performance differences caused by our cache. Most people don't know or don't care, but such a vulnerability may be critical if you're under an oppressive regime or you're an interesting blackmail target. Even if these two extensions impose some usability and performance burden (SafeHistory, for instance, scans all the links of a page to "artificially" color them as visited only if they've been previously followed from the same site, and this can cause a noticeable unresponsiveness where links are a lot), they're the best defense we've got -- other than clearing both cache and history every time we navigate to a new site -- until these bugs (affecting all the major browsers) are fixed.

Thanks to Dave Drager for the useful reminder.

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