Setting up Mozilla FireFox Securely

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Setting up Mozilla FireFox Securely

1. Download FireFox. Why? Mozilla FireFox is simply the most secure and open browser on the internet. How is this? Mozilla FireFox is an Open Source browser. Which means any average Joe can go on the website, download the browsers code and look inside. This allows everyone to be able to customize the browser, and see if there are any trackers inside. Browsers such as Internet Explorer, and Google Chrome are closed source browsers. Which means no one can see what the browser contains. No on can look inside and see if there are any trackers, or see if there are any security loopholes. Of course with FireFox begin open source it may seem dangerous, but this creates a safe and quick updating environment. With hundreds of thousands of people begin able to see the source, and modify if themselves, this allows more people to report these security loopholes to Mozilla faster. When Mozilla sees these loopholes, they can send an update to users, and patch the loopholes immediately. With Internet Explorer, and Google Chrome, it may take these browsers many days, weeks, or months, for them to find the loophole. With no one begin able to see what the source contains, this creates many problems. If there is a loophole, no one other than Google can fix this, and this gives times for the one knowledgeable about the exploit to abuse it. And, it can take them an extended period of time to find it. This also creates an untrusted connection. Why has Google closed off the source to their simple browser? Is it because it contains trackers inside? Does it watch every website you log onto, and monitor you? If the source is closed, no one knows what is going on behind the scenes. Did you know about Google Tracking? This is why it is best to use Mozilla FireFox, because you can see what they have to offer, and have nothing to hide. But, what if you don’t know anything about coding, or all this mumbo jumbo source code talk? Is it hard to use? No, Mozilla FireFox leaves the browser simple and friendly. Many of my family and friends that know little to nothing about the internet, or internet tracking use this browser. Is is %100 user friendly. If you want to see the source code for yourself go to your search engine and type in “Mozilla FireFox Source Code”. I cant give you a direct page, because they are always changing their websites layout.

2. Configure the options to your liking.

Mozilla FireFox may seem a little confusing at first. As almost anything new is. So first you will want to navigate you your options. Click the FireFox button on the top left of the browser, go to the options tab, and click options. This will bring another small popup. From there, go to the Advanced Tab on the right. Go to the update tab. Now, if you want this browser, to work right out of the box, leave it on Automatic updates. But, if you want to be notified when there is a new update, and choose when to install it, you may want to select this option. This will notify you when they have an update, and let you install it when you are ready. Instead of just installing it right away. This can be helpful later down the rode, when we talk about Add Ons. I would also recommend not checking/un-checking the “Automatically update: Search Engines”. This will just stop websites from inserting their search engine in your search engine bar without asking, usually where the Google search is. You can now go to the network section (we are still on the advanced tab). Now I would suggest checking the option “Tell me when a website asks to store data for offline use”. This option will prompt you with a notification if a website wants to store data on your computer. You should have the right to know if a website is going to be installing some junk on your computer. So, if you dont know anything about the site, when it trys to store data I would click dont allow. If you dont select anything, it will automatically allow to data to be stored. No website needs to see what you are doing on your computer, while you are not on their website. Next hit general, to the left of the network tab. Now, this is where you can choose some general options. I would suggest checking the box “Warn me when websites try to redirect or reload the page”. What this does is, lets say you go to Yahoo.com, but the website has redirected to some malware somehow. This will stop pages from redirecting you right away. FireFox will prompt you and ask if you want to page to redirect you. If you trust it, then hit yes. This may cause problems with PayPal or other log in methods. When you log in to a site like PayPal, it redirects you to a secure page, then directs you back to the main page. If you know what the website is doing, go ahead and allow it, by clicking yes. But, this option can stop pages from directing you somewhere you dont want to end up. New Update: Navigate to the Network Tab now. On the Network Tab you can choose whether you want to submit crash reports or not. This is not Mozilla tracking you. If the browser for some reason closes when you didnt tell it to, it will ask if you want to send this to Mozilla. Click send. This will only send them the error that occurred when it closed without asking. It wont send them what you were doing. Sending them reports will lead to performance updates if there is a persistent problem. So, if you want to help Mozilla and their FireFox browser I recommend it. The new Enable Telemetry Option is up to you. This will send them the amount of resources the browser is using on your computer. Again, no tracking is intended here, it is only to help FireFox become faster, and more lightweight.

Security Tab

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Now we can move to the Security Tab (the icon with the lock on it). Once you have navigated here, I would recommend having the top three options checked. This will stop websites from attacking you, or installing something you don’t want. It will just block it, and not bother you while browsing the internet. Now for the bottom part, you set these to your liking. If you want the browser to remember your logins then hit yes. So, if you want Facebook to be logged in right when you open your browser, then go ahead and leave it on. If you want your browser to not save any data, and make you login every website when you open FireFox, you can de-select this option. The master password options can be helpful. When using FireFox it stores your passwords inside a file, inside the browser. Now, every browser does this, but FireFox just lets you know where the file is, so you dont have to hunt for it inside confusing computer files. So, if you save your passwords, it creates a small file. If you click the “Saved Passwords…” button, you will see all the sites you logged into, and hit “Remember Password” on. No one but you can see these. But, what if a Friend is using your computer, and uses FireFox on their computer, and knows how to use this option? Or you have a virus, and the person wants to access this folder, and peek at your sensitive info? The master password option can stop them. If you set a master password, if you click the “save password” option, it will lock that file. So when the user opens FireFox, and clicks “saved passwords”, it will prompt them with a password. If they fail to type in the correct password, they cannot get in. Make sure you remember the master password, because if you dont, you just wont be able to access that file and see your passwords. Not a big deal, but if you forgot your Amazon password when you logged out, you wont be able to access the data here.  Also, if you hit remember password on the browser, it will prompt you to type in the master password. So, if a friend goes on their Facebook, and they want to save their login on your computer, it will not let them. They can still use their Facebook, but they wont be able to save their login unless they know the code. This can stop people from logging you out, and then you having to input all your info over and over again.

Privacy Tab (my favorite)

The Privacy Tab. It can have one option, or many depending on what you choose. If you want every website to track you, then leave it on the “Remember history” option, and you can select the “Ask websites not to track me button” on the top of the privacy tab (do select it no matter what options you choose to use). But, you are only asking them not to track you. If they where tracking you before without you knowing, why will they not track you now, because you asked nicely? Nope. The websites want to know you, then want to be part of your family, but you may not want that. But, if you want to be a little sneaky, and stop these intruders you didnt ask for, then this is your section.  If you never want FireFox to remember anything, and just remove everything when you close a tab or page, then select the “Never remember history” option. But, if you go on Amazon, log in, and reload the page, you will be logged out the second you logged in. This is because you are not saving any information. Which in the end, is no fun. So, if you want to be a spy, click “Use custom settings for history”. This should load a somewhat large page of options. I do not recommend the “Always use private browsing mode”. This will save, and delete some content, and passwords. It doesnt work well on Chrome (incognito mode), or Internet Explorer, it is just broken everywhere you go. So, dont select it, unless you know what your doing with it. But, I like my browser to be customized to my settings. Now for the sake of reading, I will just show your my personal options, and go through what they do,

FireFox Options

Remember my browsing and download history: If you want FireFox to remember what websites you went to leave this checked. If you went to Facebook, when you start typing fa into the bar and facebook pops up, this is why. If you dont want it to remember any website you navigated to, uncheck it. Also, this will delete your download history. So, if you download a file such as a program, or video, you will notice it will stay in the download box. If you dont want it to remember what you downloaded dont check this. This will not delete the download, only the small file in the downloads box. It will only delete your history and download history when you close FireFox. Different updates, change different things sometimes. Remember search form history is just remembering your searches, and the forms it keeps. Not a big deal, but why keep it if it isnt needed? Accepting cookies from sites is crucial. I highly recommend keeping this checked. This will go back to the Amazon login, or just about any login. When you login into a site, and go to another page, your will be instantly logged out. Keep it on, it doesnt hurt anything. You can delete the cookies when you exit FireFox with another method. Cookies while browsing Real-Time are crucial for certain things. The Accept third party cookies is where it gets fishy. Why do you want to accept random cookies that have nothing to do with the site? I would recommend having this one unchecked. For no reason do you want to be accepting random cookies, belonging to a random stranger. De-selecting this will not harm any logins, it just wont accept random junk off of any sites or ads. The Keep Until: section is where you get full customization. You can keep your cookies until a certain point. Till they expire, when you close FireFox, or have it always prompt you. Till they expire will probably be when you close the browser, or if the website has a certain time point. PayPal, and Liberty Reserve log you out usually after 15 minutes. So when you get logged out, or any website that has the auto log out after some time, thats when the cookie will expire. This is good for keeping all your cookies, but having them slowly die off when they are unneeded. The “Clear history when FireFox closes” option is by far the best part. This is where FireFox unleashes its Freedom. The ability to clear your browser off when closing FireFox. As you can see in the picture above, I have my browser set to clear everything when I close my browser. So, when my browser is open, all my logins stay on, and everything is smooth. Then when I close, and restart, its like no one has ever used my browser. So lets go over what I delete. Browsing history are the websites I went on. So when I type in Fa, facebook will not pop up. But if I didnt clear this off, when I type in FA, it will still pop ip. This deletes all the proof of sites I visited. Cookies are what we went over above. Download history, same as above, it just clears off the part showing you downloaded it in the pop up. Active Logins, is similar to Cookies, but cookies hold more info. This option will be sure to clean all your logins. So when you go to Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, everything that you logged into before closing the browser is gone. So not one person can get into any of your accounts by opening your browser. Great for security, not so great if you have password memorization problems. Form and search history are just forms websites save. Search history, is everything you searched on Google, or other search engines. This wont delete what the search engines server saved, but will delete what your computer saved about that search engine. Cache is honestly junk no one needs. I would suggest having that get wiped off. It clogs every computer with just random memory it doesnt need. Always clean that off. Saved Passwords is the somewhat like Active Logins. Some sites auto log you out, but still save your password on your browser, this will delete what your computer saved. The box that shows all your passwords, it will clear the box out. Offline Website Data is data websites store on your computer to view you offline. I suggest clearing that always. No website needs to snoop on you while you are not using their services. Site Preferences, well the name speaks for itself. The DownThemAll in the picture above is a random addon. You wont have that. That wraps up the Privacy tab. Setting up Mozilla FireFox the right way gives you choices for everything.

 

Application Tab

This can be nice for some people. This is what happens when you visit a website with certain content. So lets say a podcast is live, depending on your settings you can have the podcast autoplay, or ask you to play it. If you have the setting on Deny, it just wont run automatically. FireFox doesnt harass you while browsing. If you wanted to hear the podcast, you would just click play on the podcast. The Application Tab tells you what Application will open when the browser is prompted with certain types of content.

Content Tab

Blocking pop ups is a good idea, nothing worse than annoying pop ups on webpages. Loading images option can be good. If you go on a website filled with pictures and content, you can have it only load the content. Great option if you have slower internet, or hate pictures on webpages. Enabling Javascript is your choice. If you dont know what Javascript is, look into it. If you know about the vulnerability’s, you choose.

Tabs Tab

The only recommendation is having it prompt you when closing multiple tabs. Other than that, you choose what suits you.

General Tab

The general tab is to set you homepage, and download location. So, again you choose where files download, and what your homepage is, if you even want one.

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Setting up Mozilla FireFox can seem tricky, but FireFox is all about letting you choose what you want.

About Author

Brandon Stosh is the founder and CEO of www.freedomhacker.net. Stosh is a cyber security researcher and professional consultant who strives to provide reliable news on cyber-security based topics.

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