Privacy and security
How many Web sites and services do you use that require you to log in with a username and password? To keep track of them all, many people use easily guessable passwords or use the same password for multiple sites (or both) -- neither of which is a smart security tactic.
That's where LastPass comes in. It securely stores all your usernames and passwords; all you need to remember is a master password.
After you sign up for a free LastPass account, the LastPass extension asks if you want it to save usernames and passwords for every site you log into. Once saved, you can set each site to log in automatically or to require your LastPass master password to log in. (We recommend the latter.) The extension creates a menu bar with links to all the sites you have saved information for, as well as a form filler to quickly enter profiles or shipping information.
More important, LastPass helps you change your worthless passwords (like HelloKitty) to much stronger ones (like J#Qq*!bnF). Go to each site's "change password" page and use LastPass's secure password generator to create complex passwords of whatever length and combination of numbers, symbols and upper- and lowercase letters you choose. You won't have to remember them, of course -- LastPass does it for you. It takes some time to update all your weak passwords this way, but the security you'll gain is well worth the investment.
Another bonus: LastPass also offers extensions for Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer, so if you use multiple browsers, your passwords will be available to you in all of them.
WOT (Web of Trust)
You can surf more safely with WOT, short for "Web of Trust." WOT compiles user-submitted safety reports to determine how trustworthy a site is. The ranking is based on these four factors:
- General trustworthiness: WOT users would likely rate the BBC as being more trustworthy than, say, "Bob's Alien News."
- Vendor reliability: Users would give a site a low rating if it had developed a reputation for ripping people off. (While this category isn't intended to be used for noncommerce sites, some people seem to be using it to rate such sites based on the usefulness of the information they provide.)
- Privacy: Ratings in this category are based on factors such as how well a site protects personal data.
- Child safety: A site that includes adult images or language would likely get a low rating from users.
When you first visit a site that WOT users consider to be safe, a green circle will flash at the top left of the screen. When you visit a suspicious site, you'll get a WOT pop-up warning message that explains why the site has been flagged as untrustworthy.
You can add your own ratings and contribute to the web of trust by clicking on the WOT button in the Safari toolbar.
A port of the popular Chrome extension, AdBlock does what its name says it does: It blocks most ads, both graphic and Flash-based, from being displayed.
Plugin Customs automatically keeps content from loading if it requires any Safari plug-in (most commonly Adobe Flash). This can keep poorly coded content from slowing down your browsing or page-loading times and keep away annoying animations and video.
A gray box that displays the plug-in type is shown at the same size as the actual plug-in content. To view the content, simply click the gray box.
If you're just interested in articles and other content and don't care about comments and potential flame wars, Shut Up from Ricky Romero is a great plug-in because it prevents the comments section of most Web pages from loading. As a result, it also speeds up page loading and rendering.
Not into social networking? Open Bits Software's Shellfish blocks the various "share" buttons for most social networks that are now embedded in most articles, blog posts and other Web content.