Web users should be doing all they can to safeguard their personal information when surfing the net. We've rounded up 8 Mozilla Firefox add-ons (some of which work with other web browsers) that will protect your privacy when on the web.
NettiCat's BetterPrivacy offers protection against an increasingly common kind of cookie called a local shared object (LSO) or Flash cookie. LSOs are used by the Adobe Flash Player plug-in to store the same kind of information that's usually stored in browser cookies.
However, because LSO cookies are stored in a system folder instead of in the browser folder, they can't be easily deleted. What's more, unlike browser cookies, LSOs never expire, and they can hold about 25 times more information than typical cookies.
Since these objects are placed by Flash, your browser's security settings have no effect on them. And here's where they get really insidious - some companies use Flash cookies to duplicate their browser cookies. You may delete the browser cookie for a site, but the LSO stays - and it restores the original cookie the next time you visit the site. This reanimation capability has given rise to two more names for these objects: super-cookies and zombie cookies.
This is where BetterPrivacy comes in. The extension can be set to automatically delete all Flash cookies every time you exit your browser, or you can manually manage and delete unwanted LSOs one by one so that information can't be accessed or used to track you from site to site.
When you install BetterPrivacy, there's no obvious change to Firefox. When you close the browser, however, the extension checks for LSOs. If it finds any, you'll see a dialog box asking if you want to delete them. If you hit Cancel, it doesn't do anything; if you hit OK, it deletes them. There's also a checkbox that lets BetterPrivacy automatically delete all LSOs every time after that.
To manage LSOs directly, open BetterPrivacy's preferences in the Tools menu. Here you can remove them one by one or all at once; you can also add specific LSOs to a whitelist to prevent them from being automatically deleted in the future.
One of the more insidious threats bad guys can throw at you is a keylogger, a tiny piece of software that invisibly captures every keystroke you make and sends it back to its home base. Your stream of keystrokes can provide cybercrooks with personal information like your Social Security number or credit card numbers, and of course your log-in information for websites, applications and your computer itself.
QFX Software's KeyScrambler Personal offers a clever way to defeat keyloggers - as you type, it encrypts the keystrokes at the driver level and then decrypts them in the browser. Any keystroke-logging malware on your computer will capture only the encrypted signal, which it will see as gibberish.
KeyScrambler Personal for Firefox, IE and Flock is free; there are also paid versions -- $29.99 (£18.99) for Pro and $44.99 (£28.50) for Premium- that extend protection to other browsers, email clients, password managers and many other applications.
Note that KeyScrambler works only with Windows; we don't know of any comparable protection for Mac users. If you know of a similar extension for Macs, please let us know in the article comments.
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