Firefox Extension for Anonymous Browsing Hits Version 1.0

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 08, 2011

There are lots of valid reasons why many people around the globe want to be able to use the web and messaging systems anonymously, despite the fact that some people want to end Internet anonymity altogether. In many parts of the world, opressive government regulations threaten free speech, and worse, which has produced an extensive list of technologies that people around the world use to beat the Internet censors. Among these, Tor, from the Tor Project, is one of the most powerful and flexible open source solutions for online anonymity. Last summer, we covered one of these solutions, a Firefox extension called HTPPS Everywhere, which leverages Tor for browsing anonymity. Now, there is an official version 1.0 available.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has announced version 1.0 of HTTPS Everywhere, built in collaboration with the Tor Project. The new version encrypts connections to more than 1,000 web sites, including Google Image Search, Flickr, Netflix, Apple, and news sites like NPR and the Economist, as well as dozens of banks. It also supports Google Search, Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail, Wikipedia, the New York Times, and hundreds of other popular sites.

According to the EFF post, this Firefox extension is not aimed solely at people who want to browse in parts of the world where Internet censorship is prevalent:

"HTTPS secures web browsing by encrypting both requests from your browser to websites and the resulting pages that are displayed," said EFF Senior Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley. "Without HTTPS, your online reading habits and activities are vulnerable to eavesdropping, and your accounts are vulnerable to hijacking. Today's Paxfire revelations are a grand example of how things can go wrong. EFF created HTTPS Everywhere to make it easier for people to keep their user names, passwords, and browsing histories secure and private. With the revelation that companies like Paxfire are out there, intercepting millions of people's searches without their permission, this kind of protection is indispensable."

Note that HTTPS Everywhere relies on implementation of the HTTPS protocol for the sites that it provides encryption services for. Not all sites have HTTPS addresses. According to the EFF: "On sites that are HTTP-only, users still have to live with lower levels of privacy and security."