AnonTab: open sites in a secure environment
AnonTab is an add-on for the Firefox and Chrome web browsers that enables you to load unknown or seemingly dangerous sites in a secure environment.
While you may trust some sites to a degree that you visit regularly, you may have encountered situations where you wanted to be extra safe when visiting certain sites on the Internet.
This can be for privacy reasons, to avoid handing over too many information to a site, or for security reasons, if you have reasons to believe that visiting a site might be dangerous or harmful.
There are a couple of things that you can do, like installing security or privacy add-ons, using a different browser profile, or opening a page in the browser's private browsing mode.
AnonTab for Firefox is an interesting add-on. The author describes it as taking the best from the NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere add-ons for Firefox, private browsing mode, and proxy use, and applying it all to the site in question.
How does it work? The add-on installs without issues, and there is nothing to configure. You can right-click on any link and select "open link in AnonTab" to invoke the functionality.
Please note that while you can download and install AnonTab for Firefox from the project's Github page or the Mozilla Add-ons Store, that the Chrome version is only available on Github. You need to prepare Chrome specifically to install off-Store extensions.
The Chrome extension may install in other Chromium-base browsers such as Opera or Vivaldi as well; I have not tried that however.
The linked site will be opened in a new tab. The IP address of your device is masked via public Google proxy servers, SSL / TLS is enforced for the connection, and scripts are blocked on the site. Additionally, no logs or browsing history entries are kept locally.
This sounds really good on paper, and it is, provided that the site and its content load fine.Â HTTPS is only enforced if supported by the page. If it does not support it, the HTTP version is loaded instead. So that is not an issue, but the blocking of scripts may be.
Some sites are programmed to load only if certain scripts are loaded, while functionality may be blocked on other sites instead.
This goes hand in hand with a lack of controls. There is no option to allow certain scripts to run, which extensions like NoScript let you do.
If you encounter a site that does not work when you load it in AnonTab, then you cannot load it as there is no option to customize the methods of AnonTab right now.
Most blogs and content sites will load, but you may not get comments or other functionality that is powered by scripts.
The add-on is built on top of DomPurify, a XSS and HTML sanitizer.
AnonTab is a handy security and privacy extension for Firefox and Chrome. While it has less uses if you use extensions or other means that offer similar functionality, it's greatest strength is that it is easy to use and does not impact regular browsing in any way. (Thanks Tom for the tip)
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