Article by Joel Howell Newsletter Editorial BoardEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org
With the passing of support for Windows XP and rising security concerns when browsing, here are some thoughts and suggestions on increasing internet safety.
The most commonly hacked browser is Internet Explorer. If you are not comfortable with continuously checking for updates, Firefox and Chrome are likely more secure alternatives. Both have multiple plug-ins and extensions, but be careful, as some Chrome extensions can change service ownership without notification. Most plug-ins, however, are safe; here are some that can be very helpful.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Tor Project jointly developed an extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera called HTTPS Everywhere. This is a protocol for securing communications over a network by encryption, as opposed to the standard http protocol (the “s” in https stands for secure). When making a payment online, have you had a site tell you that you have been moved to a secure area? You may notice that the URL will change from http to https. It’s available from www.eff.org/https-everywhere.
Web of Trust, also known as “WOT”, is an extension available for Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera. It displays traffic signal icons next to URLs and links. Green means the site is reliable, yellow indicates you should be cautious, and red tells you to stay away. The ratings are outsourced from WOT’s global user base and are supported by a number of trusted third party services. The website is www.mywot.com.
Abine’s Do Not Track Me (DNTM) protects your browser from third-party tracking by cookies or other methods. It is accessible at https://www.abine.com/donottrackme.html. When installed, you will see a running total of the number of the cookies blocked. If you create an account with Abine and are willing to pay five dollars a month, you can also use it to shield your email address, phone number, and credit card number when filling out web forms. Abine is a private company, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation is working on an extension which will do the same thing called Privacy Badger. Take a look at https://www.eff.org/privacybadger. (N.B.: it’s free but still in beta.)
Click & Clean, available for Chrome and Firefox, is an extension that takes privacy to a new level. It can give you one click erase for your browser cache, download and browsing history, temporary internet files, cookies, and flash cookies. It’s available from Mixiesoft. You can get a more comprehensive understanding from the quick start file: www.hotcleaner.com/clickclean-quick-start-guide.html.
Security aside, a very helpful utility that allows you to print online articles with just a click is Print Friendly & PDF. It’s quite easy to use. Just copy the URL of the article you want to print and paste it into the green box at Print Friendly, then click the print preview button. A box then opens which eliminates all ads, all odd spacings and floating content, showing just the substance of the article. You can even edit text on the preview. When you have the document as you like it, you can then print it by clicking the print tab at the top of the screen. You can also convert the document to a PDF and download it. This helpful utility, which also can be added to your toolbar, is ready for use at www.printfriendly.com.
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