Tag Archives: addon

Google Alarm – Alerts You When Google Is Watching!

In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, Google CEO Eric Schmidt made the following comment which frankly, I find not only offensive, but very disturbing.

“We (Google) know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are.”

If you feel like a pawn in a bigger game that you don’t understand, and you wonder just why this insatiable need exists for Google to collect more and more information about you, you’re not alone.

Schmidt can put it perspective for you though –

“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” he says……. You get a billion people doing something, there’s lots of ways to make money. Absolutely, trust me. We’ll get lots of money for it.”

Despite Schmidt’s claim last year that privacy is dead, and that people don’t care about privacy, any number of recent surveys refute this assertion. A much more realistic and balanced view on privacy, can be had at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic.org), is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. “which focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values.”

If you’ve ever wondered how invasive Google really is, there’s a small Firefox addon on that will help answer the question.

Google Alarm puts up a small message box for any web site where information on you is being sent to a Google server. The screen capture below shows that Google collected information on me, at 53 of the sites I visited this morning. I must admit, I found this rather amazing.

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The information collected, at first glance, seems rather harmless. But, with the ability Google has to correlate and data mine, (much of that ability jealously guarded), I have no doubt, that the captured information is anything but harmless.

Here’s a short video which shows Google Alarm in action. Just click on the video to run.

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I’m not suggesting that you need to run this addon as a permanent fixture in your Browser, but I do recommend that you give a spin. If it acts as a wake up call on how powerful Google has become (it should), then it’s done its job.

Note: If you decide to install this addon, you’re better off choosing the “workplace-friendly” version which dispenses with the annoying sound alarm, and relies only on a flashing message box.

If you’re a Chrome user, a Beta version of this application is available.

Download at: the developer’s site.

Additional articles on privacy posted here, include –

Personal Privacy – A Dangerous Concept!

GoogleSharing Firefox Add-on – Stop Google’s Invasion of Your Privacy!

Google’s CEO’s Privacy Statement – A Freudian Slip?

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Browsers, Chrome, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google, Interconnectivity, Point of View, Privacy, Software, Surveillance, Windows Tips and Tools

VTzilla – VirusTotal in Firefox

VTzilla browser plugin from VirusTotalVirusTotal, an invaluable free service to the Internet community, which utilizes 42 antivirus engines to analyzes suspicious files and URLs for all types of malware, recently released a Firefox only extension – VTzilla.

VTzilla is designed to scan URLs, links, and files (potential downloads) for malware, by employing the installed toolbar, or alternatively, the right click context menu.

Note: You can stop the toolbar from appearing, by making the required adjustment in Firefox’s: View – Toolbars.

Using the toolbar, I’ve plugged in my own site address as an example.

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VirusTotal’s report indicates my site is a safe site, and does not contain malware.

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Taking it one step further, (paranoid common sense), I’ve clicked on “View downloaded file analysis” within the report, which indicates all 42 engines found – there is no malware. The screen capture below, shows only part of the file analysis report.

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The following two screen captures illustrated both my request to scan a link on my own site – Tighten Your PC’s Security With Free Encrypt Stick, using VTzilla’s right click context menu, and the “clean” result.

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Next, I visited Download.com and set up a download. Before saving the file however, using the right click context menu again, I had VirusTotal perform a scan.

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The result indicates a clean file.

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A couple of caveats:

Regular VirusTotal users are aware that file size is restricted to 20 MB or less, and this restriction unfortunately, is still in effect for this new service.

VTzilla is available only as a direct download from the developer’s site at the moment. It should be available from Firefox’s add-on repository, in due course.

First impressions:

Overall, I think this extension has some value. But, it is not a panacea. More and more, if a site is imbedded with malware, just visiting the site can trigger a driveby download. Porn surfers particularly, need to take note of this.

System requirements: Firefox 1.5 – 3+

Download at: the developer’s site.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Browser add-ons, cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools, Online Spyware/Virus Scanners, Safe Surfing, Software, Windows Tips and Tools