HTTPS Everywhere: Useful Firefox Add-on Developed by the EFF and the Tor Project
Article by George Norman
On 21 Jun 2010
One of the great things about the Mozilla-developed Firefox browser (besides the fact that it looks great and works like a charm) is the fact that you can enhance its functionality with an extension or an add-on. You could for example get an add-on that will make your surfing experience safer – like the add-on recently released by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and the Tor Project.

The add-on is called HTTPS Everywhere and for now it is in Beta. This means the usual Beta warnings apply: it may be buggy, it may crash, it may not work properly. The concept behind the app is quite interesting: it helps users encrypt their traffic by forcing full-session HTTPS connections.

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For now the application works with only a handful of sites. These ones:
  • Google Search
  • Wikipedia
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • The New York Times
  • The Washington Post
  • Paypal
  • EFF
  • Tor
  • Ixquick
“Many sites on the web offer some limited support for encryption over HTTPS, but make it difficult to use. For instance, they may default to unencrypted HTTP, or fill encrypted pages with links that go back to the unencrypted site. The HTTPS Everywhere extension fixes these problems by rewriting all requests to these sites to HTTPS,” explained the EFF.

Where did the EFF find the inspiration for this add-on? According to Staff Technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Peter Eckersley, the inspiration came from Mountain View-based search engine giant Google. Back in May Google launched an SSL protected, encrypted web search engine which prevents 3rd parties from intercepting the users’ search terms and results (and school boys were quick to pick up that the encrypted search engine could be used to bypass the school’s filters and access adult content - see here).

Just like the HTTPS Everywhere add-on, the new SSL protected Google Search (available at https://www.google.com) carries the Beta tag as well. The Beta tag is there to explain why the encrypted Google web search comes with a few limitations. For example you will not see links to Image Search or Google Maps, because these services are not covered. Your web searching experience may be slower than what you’re used to because its takes longer for SSL to set up an encrypted connection between your computer and the remove web server.

If you would like to install the HTTPS Everywhere add-on, please click here.



Tags: EFF, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, Firefox, Add-on, Tor Project, HTTPS Everywhere
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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HTTPS Everywhere: Useful Firefox Add-on Developed by the EFF and the Tor Project
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