PrivacySuite Add-On for Firefox. An all-in-one privacy toolkit?

Abine has been offering a plugin for Firefox only that is called PrivacySuite. It is supposed to be an all-in-one Privacy Dashboard that integrates other plugins to offer several features for privacy conscious users. I have been using PrivacySuite for about two weeks, and I want to explain what it offers to Firefox users. Some of the features of PrivacySuite include the following:

    PrivacySuite features:

  • the ability to see a website’s privacy information as you browse
  • you can block web trackers and web bugs on a site-by-site basis
  • PrivacySuite's homepage

    Abine Control Panel Home Page of PrivacySuite

  • Block social buttons created by Facebook, Google, and others
  • Submit aliases instead of your real email, address, and phone
  • One Click Login to manage all your logins and passwords easily and securely
  • Autofill registration forms with identities you control
  • If you choose you can permanently opt-out of targeted advertising from ad networks
  • You can also control and clean-up browser, DOM and Flash cookies

What PrivacySuite offers is actually a dashboard the pops up allowing you to configure each website that you go to by clicking on the PrivacySuite logo

PrivacySuite actually integrates with several Abine apps allowing you to perform many privacy related functions. There are actually several different views in the panel that allow you to control cookies, trackers, and advertising networks…

Abine PrivacySuite Tracking Panel

PrivacySuite Tracking Configuration Panel

. You can go to any website and then right click on the Abine Privacy Suite logo in the toolbar and click “Site’s Privacy Info”, look at an example in the picture showing that NYPost.com does not use any cookies…NYPost PrivacySuiteReport

So although many of these capabilities are already available using other addons or extensions, PrivacySuite is a good option if you are not already using applications such as Lastpass to remember all of your passwords. I also have been using Abine’s Maskme for awhile to allow me to generate a one-time email address when I fill out forms on websites. However, if you do not already utilize services such as these, then PrivacySuite may prove to be a great addition to your online privacy tools. In my case the most useful part of PrivacyChoice is the ability to check on each website that I am on to see what trackers or cookies they are using. I do trust Abine with my information since they have been around for a long time and have always been completely focused on helping internet users protect their privacy. All in all, I continue to use PrivacySuite for Firefox even though I only need some of its features. It just seems to help ensure that my privacy is being maintained, and I firmly believe that you can never have enough security or privacy online. These companies are like savages trying to accumulate as much data about you as they can and if you let your guard down they will sneak a tracking cookie on your computer that Can stay there for a long time if you are not always cleaning out your cookies and using add-ons and extensions such as Ghostery, Do not track plus, and PrivacySuite.

Add-ons or Extensions that help protect your privacy online.

Privacy

I have been using several add-ons (in Firefox) and extensions (in chrome) that attempt to help you keep your information private while you work or surf the web. Extensions such as Ghostery will actually block tracking cookies and beacons from being placed in your browser. There are also add-ons such as disconnect.me that attempt to also block social widgets and trackers while claiming to do it faster than other filtering apps. I have also been using IBA (opt-out) for Chrome, or Keep my Opt Outs, which simply keeps opt-out cookies in your browser for many of the known advertising or information brokers even after deleting your cookies.

Well, I recently found a couple of new extensions that I wanted to check out… Privacy Fix and Privacy Suite, which I actually hoped one of these could actually function to replace all the other addons that have accumulated over time. It would be nice to have one extension that can actually do everything that all of these other add-ons do separately. Well, next week I will go into more detail dexcribingPrivacy Suite which aims to be the answer to this question. Privacy Suite is for Firefox and is made by privacy powerhouse Abine. I use a few of Abine’s other extensions which my favorite is MaskMe, so I decided to check out Privacy Suite to see if it could allow me to get rid of some of the other extensions that do basically the same thing. Here’s a demonstration... However, If you are looking for a fully featured privacy extension for Chrome you can try PrivacyFix (by PrivacyChoice)

“The Privacyfix browser extension scans for privacy issues based on your Facebook and Google settings, the other sites that you visit and the companies tracking you. Privacyfix then takes you instantly to the settings that you need to fix. Privacyfix also can warn you of new privacy issues as you surf the web, so you know when sites like Facebook change their privacy policies or have privacy breaches.” – PrivacyFix FAQ at https://privacyfix.com/start/learn . What it actually does is ask you to log in to the popular social networks Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn and it will check your settings on these networks and if they can be tweaked in any way to offer you more privacy, then you will be prompted to click FIX and you will be brought to the correct place in the settings on the site to change your settings. This is especially useful for LinkedIn because in my case, it found some settings that I have overlooked and allowed me to correct them.

After you fix your settings you are brought back to the Privacy Fix control panel and then you will see which websites that you have visited allow for you to request that they delete your personal information. To “fix” this part privacyfix will create an email from you to all of these sites requesting that your personal information be deleted from their data stockpiles. You can edit the email and send it, or you can choose not to send it and return to the control panel. Next there is a quick button FIX to delete any tracking cookies that PrivacyFix has found in your browser, and there is also a list shown of all the logos of sites you have visited that are known for some type of user tracking or analytics, and as you hover over each one you are given more information on how each site tracks its users. There is also a handy privacy healthbar that will display in your toolbar different colors depending on the privacy policy of the website that you are currently on. Privacy Fix is easy to use, and offers a little more functionality than Ghostery and other privacy extensions, therefore I recommend trying it out at least to help you configure your social network privacy settings to keep your data more secure.

In my next article I will go into detail explaining PrivacySuite by Abine and comparing it with other extensions and add-ons.

Microsoft releases fix-it for IE 8 0-day- Hackers Steal 45 million from ATMs

2 Big Stories today I want to mention…. Microsoft once again rushed to release a hotfix for all of its’ Windows XP users that were stuck on Internet Explorer 8, as there was a zero (0-day) day vulnerability found last week that was utilizing around 9 different popular websites to redirect unsuspecting users to Exploit Kit Malware attacks. This 0-day was so important because any business or home user that still has a 32-bit Windows XP computer is forced to use Internet Explorer 8 for Windows Updates. This exploit was first seen on the United States’ Department of Labor website. All a user had to do while browsing with IE8 is visit a specific frame and they were automagically redirected to a malicious black-hole website that served up enough malware to take over their computer. Brian Krebs reported ” several security vendors reported that the U.S. Department of Labor Web site had been hacked and seeded with code designed to exploit the flaw and download malicious software.” If you are running Internet Explorer 8, or if you are on WIndows XP then you need to go and download and run this Microsoft Fix-It before your computer becomes part of a botnet…. or you could risk it and wait until Tuesday. This exploit is already part of Metasploit and at least 8 other websites have been fingered as also hosting this attack.

In other news, most likely one of the most profitable ATM hacks in history has been thwarted and it is now being reported that 1 young hacker is dead and 7 more face trial after being busted after stealing $45 million in a cyberheist that had cybercrooks actually going to thousands of ATMs with hacked debit or credit cards and collecting cash all over the world. It looks like they actually were able to lift the daily limits that are placed on credit/debit cards, and were able to literally collect as much money as the ATM’s had in them before being caught. Nakedsecurity.com explains the heist rather well, so i will pass it off to them and you can read it here…

Bittorrent Sync (Beta) is a new application that securely syncs folders across computers.

I first heard about Bittorrent Sync on Steve Gibson’s Security Now podcast last week on twit.tv. I immediately installed it on three of my machines and began setting up some folders to sync between all three computers. I figured that it would serve as another backup of my most important files and folders. Bittorrent Labs actually have quite a few applications that they have created and most of them seem to still be in a Beta stage. Bittorrent sync is the only application that I have tried so far and it has worked flawlessly. For those that don’t know what it does here is an explanation:

Bittorrent sync simply will make an exact duplicate of any folder that you tell it to sync, and send that folder to another computer. I installed the program on my two laptops that sit right next to each other, and chose a few folders that I want to keep backed up on both computers. It took just a few minutes for all the files on one computer to be securely sent to the other computer and replicated. Bittorrent Sync is using torrent technology to quickly transfer files safe and securely from one computer to another. You can also use it to merge two or more folders and convert them into duplicate folders including all the files in each of the folders chosen to sync.

The syncing technology used is very efficient and it works great to quickly sync folders securely. This technology is nothing new, since we have already used apps such as dropbox, skydrive, google drive, and microsoft’s Synctoy to sync files. However, this application is actually using bittorrent technology which none of the other applications named have used. The main reason I am using it is because it is secure. According to Bittorrent Sync FAQ…Can other BitTorrent users see my shared files?
No. BitTorrent Sync is based on BitTorrent protocol, but all the traffic is encrypted using a private key derived from the shared secret. Your files can be viewed and received only by the people with whom you share your private secret.