Ten Firefox extensions that help keep you safe

Being secure while surfing the Web is of paramount concern to many. And with the help of these Firefox browser extensions, you'll be much safer when you visit sites.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Being safe while you surf the Web is extremely important, yet safe surfing sometimes seems like an oxymoron. For users of the Firefox browser, downloading security extensions can help increase your level of protection from worms, hackers, phishers, and the like.

I should note that even with these extensions installed, you won't be perfectly safe. Visit sites only of trusted sources, and don't download unknown files.

Safer browsing ahead

BetterPrivacy BetterPrivacy protects against long-term tracking cookies that can't be deleted. The extension makes you aware of those objects and deletes them for you. You can then sift through those cookies and selectively decide which you want to delete. It's a simple but effective tool.

BlockSite lets you block sites you don't like. Don Reisinger/CNET

BlockSite BlockSite gives you the option of blocking a Web site that you deem unsafe or unsuitable for the family. The extension even disables all links to the sites you might find in search results. When you access the extension's menu, you need only to add the site's URL to the blacklist. You won't be able to access the site, unless you remove it from that list.

Dr. Web Anti-virus Dr. Web Anti-virus enables you to verify that any file you're downloading, or any page you're browsing, isn't installing malware onto your computer. Once you right click on a link or file path, you'll find the Dr. Web Anti-virus option in the menu. Click it, and the path will be scanned to determine if there is any malware being added to your computer.

FormFox You think you're on a familiar site while filling out an online form, but you're nervous about whether the trusted source will actually receive it. That's where FormFox comes in. The add-on gives you the exact URL destination of information you're submitting to a site. So when you input your name, address, and other information, you can mouse over the Submit button and search boxes to find out exactly to where you're directing the information. You might be surprised to see where your data is going.

Ghostery Ghostery gives you alerts whenever a Web site is "watching" you. When you have the extension on, it constantly analyzes the site to determine if it's running hidden scripts that track your behavior. If it does, it will alert you to it. You can then decide to leave the site or stay.

Locationbar lets you see where you're really going. Don Reisinger/CNET

Locationbar Phishing scams are a real concern for Web surfers. Locationbar helps solve that problem. The extension decodes hidden URLs and displays where a particular link would redirect you to. You can even click on different sections of the URL, if you want to go back to the site's home page or go to the site you intended on visiting before you clicked on a phishing path. It's a useful extension.

NoScript NoScript is a handy tool that permits JavaScript or Java to run solely on trusted sites. It helps prevent cross-site scripting attacks and clickjacking. It sits in the status bar, giving you the option to allow or block JavaScript on the site you're browsing. It's a great tool.

Password Hasher If you're concerned that your passwords aren't as strong as they should be, Password Hasher is the tool for you. After you install it and create a master password for the service, it will automatically generate strong passwords for the sites you specify. You can pick how strong you want the password to be (light to heavy), and Password Hasher will do the rest. It's a great tool for important sites.

Web of Trust
Web of Trust lets you know when a site is scary. Don Reisinger/CNET

QuickJava QuickJava makes it easy to enable or disable Java and JavaScript in the browser with just a few clicks. It sits in the status bar until you need it. It's a handy tool that's extremely simple and efficient.

Web of Trust Web of Trust tells you about risky Web sites that deliver malware or send spam before you're affected. When you surf to a site, Web of Trust displays a colored icon giving you its rating. Green means it's safe. Yellow means you should proceed with caution. And red means you should avoid the site. Those icons are displayed next to search results or as an overlay on a site that is considered dangerous. It's an important tool to have, if you want to be safe online.

The top 3

If you want to be safe, installing these extensions is a good start:

1. NoScript

2. Web of Trust

3. Locationbar