The new Firefox and Chrome extension uBO Scope observes traffic to compute a privacy exposure score.
The browser extension works with any WebExtensions-based content blocker, or no blocker at all, and displays the score when you are visiting sites on the Internet.
The main idea behind the extension is to measure your privacy exposure. The base premise is that any connection to a third-party server will be used. It may be used for functionality on a given site, to display advertisement or other third-party content, but also to track you. The latter is done usually to create profiles to improve the lucrativeness of advertisement.
The extension grabs the base domain name for any third-party connection a site makes, even if it is disallowed. Pair consisting of the first-party domain name and third-party connections are stored in the extension's database to copute the overall exposure on the Internet. The data is stored locally only.
The score is based on the browsing history as well as content blockers if they are used. While the extension is maintained by Raymond Hill, the maker of the popular content blocker uBlock Origin, it may be used with any WebExtensions-based content blocker.
uBO-Scope is essentially a tool to measure what these benchmarks measured, except that uBO-Scope also measures ubiquitousness of third parties, and measure according to your own browsing history, so the results are completely relevant to you (unlike external benchmarks which quite probably do not match your own browsing history), and the goal is to increase awareness of your own level of 3rd-party exposure.
The extension displays a heatmap when you click on the overall score in the browser's interface. Each square of the heatmap represents a third-party connection with the most ubiquitous third-party connection in the top left cell of the heatmap.
The cells are color coded; red means the connection was allowed, gray that it was disallowed.
The interface lists two scores. The one on the right is the actual exposure score if you would not have used a content blocking extension, the one on the left the actual score that takes the content blocking into account.
When you hover the mouse over a cell, you get the name of the domain, and the percentage values that indicate how many sites you visited on that day made that connection.
You can switch the heatmap display to list view which shows the third-party connection domain names and the scores directly. Click on the icon on the top left of the heatmap to do so.
The only options the extension comes with let you change the time interval in days which the extension uses to compute the third-party expousre score, and the heatmap color.
uBO Scope is an interesting extension as it raises awareness in regards to third-party connections and privacy. It may also be used to test content blockers to find out about the connections that they allow and block; this may be useful to adjust certain blocking criteria.Advertisement
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.