Wrap Firefox in a Cocoon of privacy

06 Apr

Web browsers are make thorough in the elements zero for Internet security threats, and the argue between whether responsibility for preventing those threats has resulted in a Gordian bond of union. The people behind the new connect-on for Firefox called Cocoon (download) absence to cut through debate by serving the unalloyed Web to you via proxy. (Cocoon is likewise available at

Cocoon's Web situation, with the Cocoon add-on installed. It adds a toolbar to the summit of the Firefox interface, and adds buttons to the Add-On Bar at the meadow of the interface.

(Credit: Cocoon)

Made ~ the agency of Santa Barabara startup Virtual World Computing, Cocoon’s goal is to place the Internet on a server to debar individual users from having to act on it, said Cocoon Chief Executive Officer and co-institutor Jeff Bermant in an interview at CNET’s San Francisco offices in successi~ Tuesday. The add-on, which has ready 4,000 users since it entered into secluded beta 18 months ago, creates a trusty state in which the user have power to browse the Internet by forcing totality interactions between the computer in brow of you and the Internet to occur from one side of to the other protected SSL connections to Cocoon’s servers. Those servers, in cast, are guarded by Security-Enhanced Linux, that was developed by the United States’ National Security Agency.

Cocoon opened its beta to the the world in January of this year.

Cocoon installs in the same proportion that a toolbar just below the location bar in Firefox 4, although the append-on supports the browser back to Firefox 3.6. You be possible to turn it on or off using the general power button icon on the left of the toolbar, or “suspense” Cocoon lock/unlock button that’s next to it. Settings are available from a cold-to-see drop-down arrow true next to the lock button.

On the unswerving are buttons for your Cocoon narration, mailslots, and help. Next to those are positive-time site-function buttons, so you be able to bookmark sites on the fly by the thumbtack–similar to the bookmark lot in other browsers–or jot into disrepute a note attached to the position that only you can see using the notepad icon.

When running Cocoon, the browser volition open into Private Browsing mode, for all that you can switch back to erect mode while still using Cocoon. It self-reliance also redirect your Home button to the cocoon:home situation, and it installs a Cocoon toolbar during the time that well as Cocoon-specific buttons in c~tinuance the Firefox add-on bar. Note that Cocoon doesn’t labor with the Google toolbar because of the competing interests of Google inquire after and Cocoon’s emphasis on privacy.

Cocoon’s features are laudable, the in the greatest degree important being the subtlest: whatever you’re looking at in Firefox through Cocoon is being shown to you slightly. You can test this after installing Cocoon ~ the agency of checking your IP address with Cocoon up~ the body, and then again with it away: you will see two different courtship, which means that your Internet affinity is being routed through Cocoon’s servers.

One of the oblique benefits of this, said Bermant, is that Netflix users desire be able to watch streaming satisfied from outside the United States because that Cocoon’s servers are in the U.S., and Netflix blocks streaming make ~ed to IP addresses that indicate a non-U.S. server.

All your material browsing data is stored in the host and encrypted, so only the user have power to access it, and you can eye it only over a secure alliance. This is similar to how LastPass functions. All your interactions with the Web are opt-in, not opt-lacking, so that your privacy gets elevated in the heavenly heights all other concerns.

Another excellent characteristic in Cocoon is that it comes through an unlimited number of on-requisition e-mail “mailslots” are provided to heal you keep your primary e-mail-bag address private. If you’ve installed Cocoon, you be able to see how it works by navigating to at all site that requires an e-armor address to log in, such like Twitter, Facebook, or Gmail. If Cocoon has been activated, the mailslots mark will ask you if you long for to create a new e-put in the post-office address to register a new distinction for that site.

Cocoon Chief Technical Officer and co-caster Brian Fox added that the mailslots derivative like traditional brick-and-mortar put in the ~ drops. “You can not send e-mailed matter from a Cocoon e-mail, if it be not that you can forward it to a Gmail statement, for example.”

Cocoon offers a optic history, not unlike Opera's Speed Dial, of sites you've visited whenever logged in to the service. It stores the data remotely, so you can access it from any browser.

(Credit: Cocoon)

There’s anti-cookie tracking that prevents advertisers from stalking you being of the kind which you jump from one Web locality to the next, much like Internet Explorer’s tracking guard. Cocoon also incorporates support for Mozilla’s just discovered “Do Not Track”, although Bermant remnants skeptical of its effectiveness because, he reported, “It requires advertisers to play discerning, and they’ve never done that.” Fox uttered that Cocoon uses ClamAV for its heart antivirus engine, which it uses at the same time that part of its protection mechanisms.

Since you’re browsing distantly, threats like cross-site scripting attacks and coerce-by downloads are blocked. You are calm vulnerable to social engineering, however, and direct of full-frontal lobotomies, there’s small quantity to be done about that besides education and awareness.

Cocoon also comes through a note-taking feature that allows you to exemplar up notes on Web sites viewed like you visit them.

Bermant and Fox be in actual possession of big plans for Cocoon. They inadequacy to include features such as browser narration and settings importation; implement granular controls with respect to better whitelisting and blacklisting; and collect for use some level of parental controls. A version of Cocoon for Internet Explorer 9 is in the works. They’re furthermore looking at small businesses, anticipating touch from companies that want to penetrate a better balance between privacy and Web attack . Fox noted that mobility is agreeable to play a major role in Cocoon’s hereafter, too. “Security and privacy are sum of ~ units important aspects of mobile browising,” he afore~, “And they are sorely lacking.”

Cocoon looks like a serious contender for one of the good in the highest degree add-ons of the year. It’s a pungent and effective tool, easy to toggle put ~ or off, and plugs nearly aggregate of the security holes the medial sum user will encounter. The big depend-up, however, is price, and that various users simply do not pay in the place of add-ons.

Right now, Cocoon is profitable as a free trial for the earliest 30 days of use. After that, it costs $6.95 by means of month, or $55.00 for a one-year subscription, a 35 percent rebate. Bermant and Fox say that “a freemium election is not off the table”. As serious as security is, and as affordable during the time that $55 per year sounds, it’s unsusceptible to imagine widespread adoption of Cocoon’s preservation wrapping until it’s made else accessible.

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Posted by on 2011/04/06 in Popular


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