In these times of almost global Corona lockdown, we rely on the internet more than usual. So it’s a good time to check some of the tools we use every day, such as the browser. We at LxCast recommend Firefox, but its standard settings are more aimed at functionality than security. So let’s change that!
Safer Firefox settings
Click on the “Burger” Menu on the upper right-hand side of Firefox, select “Preferences”
an then “Privacy & Security”.
The first thing is to select “Delete cookies and site data when Firefox is closed”.
Then, storing passwords in your Firefox is handy. I recommend however that you only use it for less important passwords, for the rest, a separate password manager program is recommended. If you choose to store passwords in Firefox, be sure to set a Master Password (and write it down, in a Password Manager and/or on paper that you safely store somewhere!). Otherwise, everyone who has access to your computer (at the office for example) can see and steal your passwords!
Add some Browser Extensions
Click on the “Burger” Menu on the upper right-hand side of Firefox, select “Add-ons” in the menu, then “Extensions” and search for
Recommended extensions for Firefox
https everywhere – forces sites to use a secure https connection
uBlock – Blocks Ads
Privacy badger or Ghostery – block trackers on websites
Now I am aware that Firefox has its own content blockers, but I prefer separate extensions like Pivacy badger or Ghostery, because you have more options to set them up, and disable them for certain sites if necessary.
Control your history
Many sites read your browsing history to track you and send you ads.To put an end to this, select “use custom settings for history” and tick the boxes like in the screenshot, especially “Clear history when Firefox closes”.
Disable PDF in the Browser
Last but not least, if you come across a PDF file on the web, by default Firefox and many other browsers will automatically open it in the browser, like a web page. However, (bad, evil) hackers can use this to infect your system with malware. You can change this setting in Firefox via Menu > Preferences > General > Applications as described here. The PDF document will then open in your local document viewer.
In this podcast I take a look at the Fairphone 3, a few months after its launch, share my first impressions, and take an outlook at free operating systems hopefully soon available for it.
The new Fairphone was announced in late August, supposed to ship mid-september, and finally arrived in mid-october in my mailbox. The Dutch company aims for recycling of materials, fair working conditions for the employees in the Taiwanese factory that produces it, and on the rare earths coming being mined in areas without war and without child labour.
The problem though: Currently the Fairphone 3 only works with Android 9 with the full Google Apps, which means Google is regularly looking over your shoulder when you use the phone.
Not great for privacy-aware users! We look at alternative OSes and when they may be ready for installing.
Contents of the FP3 box: Headphones, phone and screwdriver, catchy slogans
Just before the British elections, I had the opportunity to return to Northern Ireland, to Derry, and to talk to people involved in a wonderful Peace Project, the Derry Playhouse.
Playwright Damian Gorman
I met playwright, writer and poet Damian Gorman, who has written extensively for television, radio and the stage. He is currently preparing a project focusing on 1972, the worst year of the Troubles. He is working with a broad range of members of the public from all walks of life (and both sides of the community) to share their experience of ’72.
I also talked to Greta McTague, who participates in Damian’s writing workshops at the Playhouse, and works as a teacher in Derry. They both offered valuable insights on life in Derry in 2019, the threat of Brexit and the return of a hard border, and the divisions, but also signs of hope in Northern Ireland.
Update: As a HPR listener pointed out, TRIM: Fragmentation of files isn’t the problem on SSDs, but wear levelling is, i.e. the SSD’s controller needs to know which blocks it can reuse for leveling out the wear on the flash cells. Thanks!
Interviews at the Free and Open Source developers meeting FOSDEM 2015 in Brussels.
A few interviews from the largest meeting of Free and Open Source Software developers, users and supporters in Brussels. I made this episode for Hacker Public Radio.
Free Software Law Expert Aaron Williamson held a brilliant talk on the history of internet surveillance in the USA at FOSDEM 2015. After the Paris terror attacks, many politicians want to increase surveillance. British Prime Minister David Cameron wants to read all our emails – even the encrypted ones. Is this the only answer to terror attacks? Aaron has a very strong opinion on this.
Mathias Kirschner, Free Software Foundation Europe
Matthias is the Vice President of the Free Software Foundation Europe. In our interview at Fosdem 2015, he explains the work and the goal of the foundation and how they do lobbying for Free Software in parliaments and government bodies.