Providers such as LiquidVPN have made the general public ever more aware of how a VPN can secure their privacy and secure their personal browsing habits. However, although a VPN goes most of the way to protect your privacy it is not the full solution and there are some added layers of protection that can be introduced to make sure your personal details don’t slip through the net.
In this article I’m going to look at some of the best additional tools to use to complement a VPN service and ensure you secure your privacy and stay safe online.
When visiting an unknown website for the first time there is a risk of catching a nasty infection on your computer and increasingly your mobile device. NoScript blocks the majority of web executable technologies that are responsible for harbouring most of the malicious code that can attack your computer.
It works by blocking applications such as Silverlight and others mentioned above by default. Users are able to specify which websites to allow such content on and have the ability to choose a time duration either on a permanent or temporarily basis.
As well as default script blocking NoScript can actively defend against other attacks that lurk on websites. Exploits such as XSS, CSRF, clickjacking, MITM and DNS rebinding are all defended against to an extent when NoScript is in use.
Users who stick to well-known websites should also remain cautious as in late 2014 malicious adverts known as “malvertising” were discovered on popular sites such as Java.com, DeviantArt, eBay.ie and others. Malicious code was distributed through adverts that did not require user interaction such as clicking to be infectious.
NoScript is available as a Firefox add-on : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/noscript/
Tracking has become a major issue and while a VPN is one of the best ways to limit tracking there are browser based issues to be aware of and protect against if you want to become fully tracking free.
Ghostery is a small browser extension available for all major web browsers that flags up tracking issues on websites. Known as web bugs these tiny embedded objects hide on websites invisible to direct view and collect your browsing habits.
Tracking is carried out by a range of hidden methods such as cookies, tags, pixels and beacons and all have one common goal of tracking you. Ghostery puts the choice back into your hands and allows you to not only see what is tracking you on any given website but also gives you the power over what you who you want to share information with and who you don’t.
When asked how users could secure their online privacy at SXSW 2014, ex-security contractor turned whistle-blower Edward Snowden suggested using browser add-ons NoScript and Ghostery alongside other tools. You don’t need much more endorsement than that.
Ghostery is a free tool available on for major browsers from : https://www.ghostery.com/
HTTPS is a secure version of the standard HTTP protocol that encrypts data between your own web browser and the server of the website you’re visiting. To increase security Google encouraged websites to take up HTTPS as standard and due to the importance they put on it even offered websites a small ranking reward.
The HTTPS Everywhere gauntlet was taken up by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Tor Project who released an extension surprisingly named “HTTPS Everywhere” available for Chrome, Firefox and Opera.
The HTTPS Everywhere extension removes the need for user input and where possible pushes your web browsing over the HTTPS protocol. Some websites are set up to use HTTPS but not automatically and the aim of the extension is to make use of this when possible.
HTTPS Everywhere is available from the EFF website : https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere
Adverts are the bane of the world, as commercialisation has spread it is almost impossible to avoid being bombarded with messages convincing you to buy the latest product or service.
As the internet has evolved advertising has become big business and is now integrated into almost all websites in some form or other. From the mundane static adverts to those that track your every movement – adverts are an unavoidable evil of the web.
Adblock Plus is a browser extension available for most major browsers and even has an Android option. From installation it actually does very little but allows users to build up filter lists that work to block adverts from networks that you do not wish to see.
In terms of stopping tracking it is an essential tool because many adverts track your usage across websites and by blocking them you can render this tracking useless. Not only are static and pop-up adverts blocked but Adblock Plus is also able to stop video adverts and those that appear on social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube.
Adblock Plus is available directly from the creators website : https://adblockplus.org/