Safer Surfing Techniques Using Firefox and Add-ons

Article summary:

  • Malware has become so prevalent that you should consider changing your web browsing habits.
  • ECN recommends using Internet Explorer only for Purdue web sites, and only for those which won't work correctly in Mozilla Firefox.
  • We recommend using Firefox, with the free add-ins described below, for all other web browsing.
  • Set Firefox as your default browser.

 


Firefox vs. Internet Explorer

ECN recommends using Internet Explorer solely to access Purdue applications such as OnePurdue, SRM, AIMS, etc. For all other browsing, we suggest you use Firefox with the free Adblock Plus and NoScript add-ons installed. While Adblock Plus confers some protection, combining these tools provides powerful malware protection for your computer.

These instructions may be used on ECN-supported Windows PCs; you do not need ECN's assistance to proceed with the steps shown below.

For your "self-supported" and/or personally-owned computers, Mozilla Firefox, Adblock Plus, and NoScript are free downloads. Firefox is available at getfirefox.com; download Adblock Plus and NoScript by following the procedures below.

 


Setting Firefox as the Default Browser

If you currently have Internet Explorer as your default browser, you can change it with the following procedure:

 

1. Open Firefox. 

On ECN-supported Windows XP computers, it is in Start > Programs > ECN Software > Mozilla Firefox...

On ECN-supported Windows 7 computers, it is in Start > All Programs > Mozilla Firefox

 

2. Set Firefox as your default browser.

As soon as Firefox opens, it might ask you if you want it to be your default browser.  If so, click "Yes", and go to step 4.

2A. In the upper left hand corner, if you have a circular icon of an orange fox circling a globe...

Select Tools menu, then "Options".

2B. In the upper left hand corner, if you have a rectangular orange button that says "Firefox"...

Click the orange Firefox button, then Options.

 

3. Use the "Check Now" tool to set Firefox as the default browser

Select the "Advanced" menu on the right side of the Options window.  Finally, click "Check Now" towards the bottom of the Options window.  Select "Yes".

 

4. Turn Off Internet Explorer's check to become the default browser

Open Internet Explorer.  A window may pop up asking if you want to make Internet Explorer your default browser.  Uncheck the checkbox next to "Always perform this check..." and select "No" in order to decline the request to make Internet Explorer the default.

 


Adblock Plus

Adblock Plus, a free add-on for the free Firefox web browser, automatically prevents on-line advertisements from being loaded from known malware domains. This is transparent, and most websites will function normally without additional input.

Cropped screenshot of Firefox, showing the tools pulldown with add-ons highlighted.

1. Select Tools > Add-ons from the menu bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Add-ons dialog in Firefox, with a search for Adblock Plus shown.

2. Select "Get Add-ons", enter "Adblock" into the search bar, and hit enter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Firefox's "Software Installation" popup, with Adblock Plus pictured.3. Select "Adblock Plus" and click "Add to Firefox".

The dialog shown in the illustration at right will appear. In order to protect you from accidentally installing potentially harmful add-ons, Firefox prevents you from clicking the "Install Now" button for 3 seconds so you can see what you're about to install. Simply wait 3 seconds for the button to become active, then click it to install the add-on.

After the installation, a suggestion to restart Firefox should appear. Click the "Restart Firefox" button so the final step of the installation can be done.

 



 


 


NoScript

NoScript is a free add-on for Firefox which allows certain programmed web content to load only after you provide permission. Due to scripts being blocked UNTIL you allow them to be run, this plugin changes browsing behavior- and it takes a little getting used to. Once you have whitelisted or blacklisted the domains running scripts on most of your favorite websites, NoScript quickly becomes about as transparent as Adblock Plus in its operation.

 

Cropped screenshot of Firefox, showing the tools pulldown with add-ons highlighted.

5. Select Tools > Add-ons from the menu bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Add-ons dialog in Firefox, with a search for NoScript shown.

6. Select "Get Add-ons", enter "NoScript" into the search bar, and hit enter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Firefox's "Software Installation" popup, with
NoScript pictured.

7. Select "NoScript" and click "Add to Firefox".

The dialog shown in the illustration at right will appear. In order to protect you from accidentally installing potentially harmful add-ons, Firefox prevents you from clicking the "Install Now" button for 3 seconds so you can see what you about to install. Simply wait 3 seconds for the button to become active, then click it to install the add-on.

After the installation, a suggestion to restart Firefox should appear. Click the "Restart Firefox" button to complete installation.

 

 

 

 


Using NoScript

Unlike Adblock Plus, which uses a pre-made blacklist to stop the loading of potentially harmful advertisements, NoScript blocks all scripts on a web site from running by default, letting you decide which ones to allow. While this changes normal browsing procedures, it confers a much higher level of security against malware and viruses.

When you load a web page, you should see a menubar at the bottom of the window as well as a NoScript icon in the status bar. Clicking on the "options" button on the bottom menu bar or on the NoScript icon in the status bar will bring up the permission options pictured below.

A screenshot of CNN loaded on firefox, with NoScripts option dialog shown.

Here is a description of each available command:

Allow Scripts Globally: This essentially turns NoScript off, while leaving the add-on itself running. If you select this option, NoScript will not block any scripts as you browse the web until you turn this option off.

Allow all this page: This whitelists scripts from all sources on the page you are viewing.

Temporarily allow all this page: This enables all scripts on the page you are currently viewing until you navigate away from it.

Recently blocked sites: This shows a list of domains from which you have recently blocked scripts.

Untrusted: This shows any domains you have blacklisted as untrusted that have scripts on the page you are currently viewing.

After these options, all domains with scripts on the page you are viewing are listed. Remember that by default NoScript blocks all scripts; you can choose which domains you wish to whitelist, blacklist, or temporarily allow to run scripts.

 


General recommendations to reduce the threat of malware

Although there is no one sure method or combination of techniques which will guarantee that your computer (or, for users of ECN-supported Windows PCs, your ECN profile) won't be affected by malware, here are a few general recommendations to reduce the threat.

Limit your access privileges. During routine use of your computer, log in to an account which has only "limited user" access privileges. This takes extra effort on your part: On many new computers (including those which use the Microsoft Windows operating system), accounts are given full administrator privileges by default. We suggest creating a separate account with only the most limited privileges; use this account during all routine computer activities. Log in to your administrative account only as needed to install software or change system settings.

(Please note that users of ECN-supported Windows PCs already have only "limited user" access.)

Install anti-virus software. Download anti-virus software from the SecurePurdue web site, install it on your computer, and make sure it is set to download updates daily and automatically. No anti-virus software is able to prevent all malware infections, but this basic prevention tool remains essential.

(Anti-virus software is installed on all ECN-supported Windows PCs.)

Deal with fake anti-virus alerts carefully. Fake anti-virus alerts may appear while you're surfing the web, falsely claiming that your computer is infected and often attempting to convince you to download (and pay for) useless anti-virus software. Learn to spot the tell-tale indicators that such alerts are fake; do not click anywhere in the windows. Even attempting to close the windows sometimes triggers the infection.

On ECN-supported Windows PCs, when these alerts appear, we've learned that ECN profile infections may sometimes be prevented by forcibly powering-off your PC by pressing and holding its power button until it turns off.

Keep your web browser up-to-date and use free add-ons like those described above.

 

Last modified: 2014/01/28 09:56:6.863715 US/Eastern by joshua.g.davis.1
Created: 2011/04/12 14:04:37.044000 GMT-4 by john.a.omalley.1.

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