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How to configure Mozilla's and Netscape 7.1's privacy and security features


Step Five - Scripts and Plugins

Javascript and Plugins have (in most cases) greatly improved the Internet experience by adding features to previously text and image only sites. As with all things, they have their drawbacks, too, which can be alleviated with Mozilla's Javascript and Plugin Preferences.

Mozilla's JavaScript and Plugin Preferences
Mozilla's Javascript and Plugin Preferences

  • The recommended "Enable Javascript for" settings are:
    Check "Enable Javascript" for Navigator (i.e. the Browser) and uncheck (disable) it for Mail & Newsgroups.
    The reason why I recommend this is that I see no reason whatsoever for Javscript in mail and newsgroup messages besides using a script to fetch data from a remote server (verifying that you have read the message) or to do things you neither need nor want them to.

  • The recommended "Allow scripts to" settings are:
    Uncheck (disable) "Move or resize existing windows", "Raise or lower windows", " Change status bar text" (this will help protect you from Spoofing, i.e. sites pretending to be another site) and "Hide the status bar".
    Check (enable) "Change Images" (this is e.g. used for mouse over effects), "Create or change cookies" and "Read Cookies". All other features will (in my opinion) neither hurt if selected or deselected.

  • The recommended "Enable plugins for Mail & Newsgroups" setting is:
    Uncheck (disable) "Enable plugins for Mail & Newsgroups", as again, I see no need for plugins in mail and newsgroup messages, but I do see potential for misuse.

With these settings applied, Mozilla should protect your online security and privacy even better. But as I said in the beginning: The safe use of the Internet is always also the individual user's responsibility.

This means: Be careful with the attachments you open (when in doubt, ask the sender what it is he sent you), use an Antivirus program and a personal firewall. Common sense and personal firewalls are free :-)

An interesting extension for Mozilla is Prefbar. It adds a configurable toolbar that allows you to toggle many of the settings (plus other settings) that were mentioned in this tutorial. To see an example what prefbar can look like, click here
  (opens in a popup window)


Additional article: Mozilla's Spam filter.
This article explains how Mozilla's automatic Spam filter works and summarizes Hard Tecs 4U's review of it.
Additional resources:
- Browser Security Test. This site will scan all popular browsers for security vulnerabilites. It's a good way to see if your security is up to date and to compare the different browsers you have.
- Antivir. This company offers a free (for personal use) Antivirus program.
- Zone Labs. Zone Labs offers the popular firewall Zone Alarm. Zone Alarm basic is available for free.
- Ad Aware. Ad Aware is a free program that scans your PC for Adware, Spyware, Tracking Cookies and more. This is highly recommended if you have previously used Internet Explorer or experienced unexplainable popup windows and a slowdown in your PC's speed.



Previous Step: Passwords
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I'd like to thank Jeff Wilkinson, Derek Allard, ndeakin, webgremlin and leafdigital for helping improve this tutorial through their feedback.



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