HTTPS Everywhere Encrypts Connections, If Possible

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 18, 2010
Updated • Feb 23, 2015
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Tor project have published a new Firefox add-on that switches to encrypted connections whenever possible.

As you may know, many websites allow you to connect to them regularly or by using HTTPS.

The Firefox add-on comes pre-configured with support for seventeen websites and services from PayPal and Twitter to the New York Times, Facebook or Google Search.

Connections to those websites are automatically switched to the encrypted HTTPS channel for extra security after you have installed the HTTPS Everywhere add-on in the Firefox browser.

Update: The most recent version of the extension supports hundreds of sites now and is available not only for Firefox but also Google Chrome, Opera and for Firefox on Android.

All available sites are enabled by default with the option to disable them individually. That's great as some sites might not work on some pages if encryption is enforced on them. Google Search is an example where some functions are not available if encryption is used.

Why would anyone want to use encryption for these sites? Encryption makes sure that third parties, for instance users in the same computer network or the Internet Service Provider, are not able to "see" what you are doing on a site thanks to the encryption used. While they may see to which sites you connect, they cannot listen in on the traffic to find out what data you sent and receive.

But there are other benefits as well. HTTPS connections might sometimes work where http connections do not. This depends on the rule set of the computer network or individual computer system. It can sometimes also be used to bypass some web filters.

Websites that are offering encryption but are not already included in the add-on can be added by editing the XML file that is created during installation. Configuration examples are provided on the EFF website. A basic understanding of JavaScript regular expressions is needed to configure new web services to always use HTTPS.

HTTPS Everywhere is available from the Electronic Frontier Foundation website. Firefox will display a small notification window on top with an option to allow the host to offer add-ons for installation. The installation will only commence if the user clicks the allow button in the notification.

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HTTPS Everywhere
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