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WEB HOSTING SECURITY

New Firefox Extension Helps Encrypt the Web
By: wubayou
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    2010-06-23

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    You can never be too safe when surfing the net these days. Every minute of the day there are hackers working to try to extract sensitive and confidential data from unsuspecting victims. To help make the surfing experience a bit safer, the HTTPS Everywhere extension for Firefox users was released. Mozilla's Firefox has been a popular choice for many surfers due to its security and perceived strength against viruses, and the HTTPS Everywhere extension is one tool that enhances its security.

    The public beta version of HTTPS Everywhere was released last Thursday. The extension is the result of a meeting of the minds between the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Tor Project. The EFF is a nonprofit group of professionals dedicated to defending the public in the realm of digital rights since 1990. The Tor Project, meanwhile, is a network that helps Internet users keep anonymous and combats traffic analysis to protect their privacy.

    HTTPS Everywhere was created with the intent to encrypt users' communication with a variety of popular websites to ensure that unauthorized people do not eavesdrop on the information that travels between computers. Among the sites that the extension works with are Facebook, Twitter, Google Search, PayPal, Wikipedia, the New York Post, EFF, Tor, Identi.ca, search engines like Scroogle, and others. EFF and the Tor Project created the extension after the recent release of Google's encrypted search option, a feature that the two had privately requested from the web search giant for some time. It helps keep a user's searches private.

    HTTPS Everywhere encryption works with the listed compatible sites by establishing a Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, or HTTPS, connection to them. The extension establishes such a connection in a more efficient manner than one could without it, as it rewrites requests to the specific sites using HTTPS. Despite the fact that many Internet sites do support HTTPS in one way or another, they do not do so completely, leaving the surfer vulnerable. For instance, a page may be encrypted, but several of its links could lead a user back to its unencrypted version when clicked on. Even worse, some sites may lead a surfer to their unencrypted version by default, making the encrypted browsing process extremely difficult to achieve.

    Although HTTPS Everywhere does provide added security while browsing, it does not make one completely bulletproof against hacking or eavesdropping. To ensure that the page being visited is completely encrypted, one must see an unbroken lock icon in the bottom right hand corner of the browser, as well as a colored address bar. If the lock icon is broken or an exclamation mark appears, the risk of attack or analysis is possible. The existence of third party content on many sites makes this a distinct possibility, and information such as the user's IP address can be visible. Regardless, in the endless battle against hacking and attacks, HTTPS Everywhere is another layer of added protection that Firefox users can download for added peace of mind while on the Internet.

    For more on this extension, visit: http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-20008217-245.html


    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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