Tag Archives: Security

Lock Down Firefox, With Public Fox Extension

Another problem solved

Something  plaguing us here on the farm has been  our adult autistic son installing Windows software to his Linux computer.

Because he is so skilled in the original Windows Paint software, we have WINE installed on his Linux Mint computers so he can run Paint. The trouble with this arrangement is that even though he only has user access to his Linux desktop, he can still install Windows software under WINE.

No amount of research, permission changes etcetera on may part could prevent this from happening. I was constantly going in at night and uninstalling things like YouTube downloaders, questionable tool bars full of malware and other nonsense. My son was also installing about every Firefox extension he stumbled upon. There were 20 different video downloaders alone, and dozens of other  bits and bobs.

Then this week, I stumbled upon Public Fox

Lock down Firefox with this great tool!

Lock down Firefox with this great tool!

This Firefox add on, allows you to really lock down Firefox. Locking users out of the ability to add or change other Firefox add ons,  locking out the about:cong, history saving, and most all the other Firefox preferences!

Best of all, this add on will allow you to block the downloading of any file type you wish, simply by entering the banned extension!

Files ending in .zip  .exe  .com  .bat  .pdf  now all blocked from even being downloaded. He can’t install a Windows program, if he can’t download it!

Further, you can specify web sites that you wish to block. Yes, I block many sites in my router, but my crafty son figured out that he could go to the secure version of a site and bypass the router’s ability to block it!  This has been a real problem lately, as he’d do a web search for a favorite cartoon character, and end up on a secure porn site that my router couldn’t block.

Using the features in Public Fox, I can block for instance, all .xxx sites, all sites with certain key words, along with my extensive list of sites I’ve compiled that I don’t want him on.

Installation is as easy as other add ons. Just search for it by name, install it, then click on Preferences and set it how you want it.

Preferences

Preferences

Then set the password for Public Fox. This way any changes to Firefox preferences and add ons will be locked tight!

Edit:

There are some reviews that state that this extension no longer works in Firefox. Further that it is serving up adds on its own. All I can say, is that running under Linux, using Firefox version 49, it seems to do exactly what it is supposed to do, and I am not getting any adds from it, though one of my other extensions is AdBlock Plus.

 

Already Not Impressed With Frontier – Please Give Me Verizon Back!

I feel like I’m in a vehicle, hurtling down a mountain road with no brakes, no steering wheel, in short no control!

I’m one of those poor souls who are being forced into a new telephone company, after Verizon sold their Florida assets to Frontier.

Dear Public Service Commission, you did us no favours!

I’ve been a happy Verizon customer for over 40 years, with the last 4, being a FIOS customer. When I heard about Frontier taking over, it didn’t take but 60 seconds to read countless complaints from other states where this has taken place. Not reassuring at all!

So I get the mailer to create my Frontier user ID. Fine, how hard can that be? Well, it took over 30 minutes!

Screen shot of the Frontier website

Screen shot of the Frontier website

For starters, their web designers have decided to block a users ability to use the context menu or Control-V to paste in your password.

In this day in age where a strong password is important, this prevents me using my password manager and my normal 32 character password!

OK fine, I type in something far less secure and continue on…

Next, they want a mobile number. No, you can’t have it! It’s a required field though, so I just put in the home phone number for the service I’m paying for with them. Then a menu comes up giving me the ability to accept or decline marketing calls to the number.

I decline

At which point, my number is erased from the “required” field and I am not allowed to register! I tried several times to get past this road block, before finally putting in a completely fake, all Zero phone number with my proper area code, and then accepting advertising. This only worked after they decided to throw out a Captcha verification to make sure I wasn’t a robot.

Now, it lets me register

Next, it wants to verify my email address. Fine, it’s a simple thing, and completely understandable.  I click for them to send me an email with the link.

But the email never comes. Turns out that Frontier generates so much spam email, that my mail provider was blocking them from my mailbox! This took a trip to my hosting control panel to actually white-list their domain so the mail can get through.

The mail comes, I click on the link, and it just takes me back to their main site. No indication that my mail has been verified.

I close the window and open it again, and they once again complain that I need to verify my email.

Fine, I ask for another email. Click on that link, with the same results. It took several attempts before their web site acknowledged that my email address was verified.

It won’t let me set up billing and other needs at this point, as the hand-off doesn’t happen until tomorrow. This is the only thing so far that makes any sense.

I’ve read many complaints of double billing during the hand-over, with Verizon continuing to bill when you’re no longer a customer, and Frontier trying to calculate partial months to get you into their billing cycle.  This could be a disaster for those of us on a fixed income.

So far, my experience has been terrible with this company. I’m scared to death of huge price increases after my current Verizon contract expires next year (If they even honour it!)

I may have to change to Bright House cable, and I hear they’re even worse…

 

Security: Watch What Your Kids Do Online!

If you have kids at home using the web, it’s important that you know what they are doing! One of the easiest ways to do that is to actually look at their screen.

Youngsters really should not be using the net in their own room, but rather in a central location in the house so you can keep an eye on them. But if they are using a laptop or desktop in their own room, it’s important to keep an eye on what they do. While my remaining child at home is 28, he is also profoundly autistic, functioning on the lever of a 4 year old. Here’s how I keep track of his net usage:

First, I use VNC. He is using a Dell laptop running Linux Mint 17. Running on Mint of course is the VNC server called vino-server.

Looking at the following screen grab, you can see the desktop sharing dialogue.

Vino setup

Vino setup

In the final section of the setup screen, you want to change the selection from where you see it, to Never. This will prevent the computer running the vino server from alerting the user that it is being connected to.

As you already know I’m sure, this lets me peek in and see what he’s looking at, and if it’s something he should not be looking at, I can block the site in my router.

VNC image

VNC image

In the example above, he was watching a Little Mermaid cartoon on Youtube while drawing one of his cartoons. *(He loves drawing cartoon characters sitting on the potty, I don’t know why!)

Other things you should do to protect your youngster include:

  • Using Opendns.org for their wonderful parental controls. They do a good job at blocking all the porn out there.
  • Use your routers built in filtering system. Block by keyword or specific URL to prevent your offspring from accessing them. *(keep in mind that if the site has a security certificate, then this can be bypassed by a clever kid, hence looking in on them from time to time!
  • Watch your router logs. My router logs tell me every site that has been visited for the last hour. It can be tedious, but checking the logs for sites you don’t want your kids going to.
  • Talk to your kids! Let them know what your expectations are where their network use concerned.

Dumping Flash – Bravo To Firefox!

Having lots of time just laying in bed the last month, I’ve used that time to rewrite my 7 web sites to get rid of Flash.

Probably the most hated piece of software on the planet, having major browsers finally block Flash is a huge step to making it all go away. With the new HTML5 video standards so well supported, I found it time to dump all my Flash content.

Fortunately, I don’t use any Flash elements in my web pages themselves, and I really hope that companies remove that type of content. What I do have over my many sites, are tons of video clips.

Using Handbrake I was able to convert about 150 Flash videos over to .mp4,, which will play natively in any modern browser. Of course converting and reuploading all the videos was the easy part. The most time was spent changing all the web pages themselves to remove the Flash commands and  replacing them with the video tag as shown here:

<video width=”900″ height=”506″ controls>
<source src=”movie56.mp4″ type=”video/mp4″>
Your browser does not support the video tag.
</video>

That’s how easy it is to embed a video in a web page now!

Video, tells the browser a movie is on the way. Of course the width and height tell the browser what size to display it, and controls, tells the browser to turn on the playback and volume controls. Next, you define the source and type of video to expect. In my case, mp4.

For a full list of available options with the Video tag: CLICK HERE

Some web sites like Amazon, use Flash for web site display elements, but thankfully, not having Flash turned on, the site still functions just fine. Other sites, if Flash is off, forget even displaying it all all. Fine, I’ll skip that site until they rewrite it!

So my advice, keep Flash turned off, and tell sites you don’t want it any more!