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Articles - Using Mozilla Firefox for safer and ad free browsing
This article is meant for average users with basic computer skills. It is about blocking most ads (advertisements) in Mozilla Firefox web browser and making browsing more secure, especially in places where computer is connected to a network that allows easy eavesdropping (such as public WiFi hotspot).

To block most web ads in Mozilla Firefox and force it to use HTTPS (secure browsing protocol) on many of most popular websites following two add-ons/extensions should be installed.
  • Adblock Plus is add-on for Firefox which blocks page elements (images, scripts etc.) based on their URLs and other attributes. It is effective for blocking many ads, because they often contain similar phrases in their URLs, HTML element ids or class names. Adblock Plus automatically updates its set of filters from several (configurable) filter "subscriptions".
  • HTTPS Everywhere is add-on that forces browser to use HTTPS on many popular websites (configurable in add-on options). HTTPS encrypts data sent between browser and website, making it much more difficult for an attacker to eavesdrop passwords or hijack sessions (use website with victim's login after he/she has logged in). Latest development version of this add-on is suggested, because it supports much more sites. This add-on is a great security enhancement, though it can cause problems on some sites. In such cases HTTPS Everywhere should be configured (in add-on options) not to secure those problematic sites/services.
For additional security of HTTPS websites the following add-on is recommended (this is mainly for users of high-security websites e.g. online banking).
  • Certificate Patrol is add-on that monitors changes to SSL certificates used by HTTPS websites. HTTPS/SSL relies on certificates - basically each HTTPS site has a digital certificate installed on the server that to a degree verifies identity of site. Certificate Patrol alerts user when certificate of HTTPS site has changed since last visit allowing user to judge whether that was a legitimate certificate change (or the "new" certificate is somehow forged). More info on Certificate Patrol website.

There are no special computer skills required to install these add-ons - installation can be done by opening above links in Firefox and following download instructions on these sites. These extensions can be configured by clicking on Tools (in Firefox menu bar) - Add-ons - Extensions, selecting appropriate extension and clicking on Options. Add-ons can be removed similarly - by clicking on Remove.

Posted on 2011.04.07., last modified on 2011.04.10.

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