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IS FIREFOX/GOOGLE SPYING ON YOU?

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Reflective
 
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Post Posted March 22nd, 2007, 2:54 am

The image below shows Firefox loaded with "about:config". That's all I had open at the time, but as the screenshot which includes a picture of a command prompt and IPNetinfo shows, I had an established connection to Google on IP 66.102.9.147. This is a source of some concern to me because I really don't want them looking over my shoulder every time I'm on the web, and certainly not when I'm configuring FF settings on the local machine.

I'm not quibbling about Mozilla earning a few millions from Google searches, even though it seems to contradict the notion of free software, but I take umbrage to being spied on by a search engine when I'm not even using it simply by loading Firefox.

To a lesser degree, I don't like the idea of connecting to Mozilla on IP 63.245.213.21 either. After all, when I launch IE, I don't automatically connect to Microsoft, so why am I obligated to let Mozilla know whenever I go online? I have the option to auto check for updates disabled incidentally, and I've removed the "Search" box entirely.

As this blog illustrates, Google permeates practically every aspect of our lives already and somehow or other, I'm disappointed to see that Mozilla seems to have jumped on the bandwagon as well.

Image
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monkeyv
 
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Post Posted March 22nd, 2007, 3:11 am

Could be a live bookmark updateing or it could and probably is the anti-phishing filter updating itself. Ether way it isn't google spying on you. Not to mention you could always turn of said things and problem solved.

greenknight

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Post Posted March 22nd, 2007, 3:19 am

Firefox connects with Google to update its anti-phishing database, not to spy on you. If you don't want that, you can turn it off; go to Tools -> Options -> Security, uncheck "Tell me if the site I'm visiting is a suspected forgery". No more connecting to Google, but also no warning if you connect to a known phishing site.

The connection to Mozilla is to update the "Latest Headlines" live bookmark. If you don't want that, you can delete that bookmark. It's not spying on you, though.
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steviex
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Post Posted March 22nd, 2007, 4:43 am

Here is the list of connections made at startup, with a how to stop guide... http://kb.mozillazine.org/Connections_e ... _-_Firefox

Also make sure you have removed the Google search plugin, and all other search plugins if you don't want any Searching company to interact with you.
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Reflective
 
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Post Posted March 22nd, 2007, 7:24 am

greenknight wrote:Firefox connects with Google to update its anti-phishing database, not to spy on you. If you don't want that, you can turn it off; go to Tools -> Options -> Security, uncheck "Tell me if the site I'm visiting is a suspected forgery". No more connecting to Google, but also no warning if you connect to a known phishing site.

The connection to Mozilla is to update the "Latest Headlines" live bookmark. If you don't want that, you can delete that bookmark. It's not spying on you, though.

What you suggested doesn't make any difference greenknight. After unchecking the box as per your instructions, I exited FF, reloaded and then reran netstat -an while I was editing this post. Here are the results:

Image

IP 64.233.183.103:80 is Google once again. Strangely enough, the connection to this forum doesn't show at all (?).
I haven't tested it yet with the plugins warning disabled: that'll be the next thing I suppose.

@ steviex

I didn't install the Google search tool to begin with. Neither did I install any other search plugins. I'll go through your tips in a minute though to see if they provide any clues.

Stepper3
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Post Posted March 22nd, 2007, 8:28 am

Connections may remain for around 10 minutes. If you did not reboot after making changes that may be why you are seeing that in netstat.

If you want Firefox to not automatically connect to Mozilla, you will need to turn off Firefox and extension updates (as well as removing the latest headlines as mentioned before) - under advanced, update, uncheck all 3 boxes. If you do so, to remain secure you will need to go to mozilla.com often to see if a security update has been released.

To debug this quicker, in addition to using netstat, if you temporarily configure Firefox to use proxomitron as a proxy, you can view a log of all outgoing requests not by IP, but by full type of request including the full address accessed. This often makes it very easy to see, is it the phishing filter, is it an autosearch, etc., etc.

VanillaMozilla
 
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Post Posted March 22nd, 2007, 10:47 am

You may also have forgetten about the Mozilla start page and Google as your home page.

Reflective wrote:This is a source of some concern to me because I really don't want them looking over my shoulder every time I'm on the web...
...I take umbrage to being spied on by a search engine....
I don't know how to break this to you, but I think you kinda forgot something. Every time you use a search engine -- <i>any</i> search engine -- you have to tell them what you are searching for, and they remember. Let's see, you downloaded all this software from Mozilla and you run it on your computer every day, you constantly use a search engine, and you're worried about downloading a list of bad Web sites.

But no worries. Now, at least, you have that last one turned off. Problem solved. Don't ever do a Google search, or you will be contacting them yet again.

Reflective wrote:After all, when I launch IE, I don't automatically connect to Microsoft...?
You're right. I think you automatically connect when you shut down.

Reflective wrote:I'm not quibbling about Mozilla earning a few millions from Google searches....
Yes you are. But you can turn this off too.

Daifne
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Post Posted March 22nd, 2007, 2:45 pm

As for Microsoft, your computer also contacts them at boot with their spyware, WGA. You don't even have to open a browser for that.
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Reflective
 
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Post Posted March 23rd, 2007, 2:36 am

Stepper3 wrote:Connections may remain for around 10 minutes. If you did not reboot after making changes that may be why you are seeing that in netstat.

If you want Firefox to not automatically connect to Mozilla, you will need to turn off Firefox and extension updates (as well as removing the latest headlines as mentioned before) - under advanced, update, uncheck all 3 boxes. If you do so, to remain secure you will need to go to mozilla.com often to see if a security update has been released.

To debug this quicker, in addition to using netstat, if you temporarily configure Firefox to use proxomitron as a proxy, you can view a log of all outgoing requests not by IP, but by full type of request including the full address accessed. This often makes it very easy to see, is it the phishing filter, is it an autosearch, etc., etc.

Unchecking all three boxes makes no difference to FF phoning home every time it launches.

As for your suggestion about proxomitron, my experience with proxies is that they slow down browsing considerably even when running on the local machine. In any event, NETSTAT is more than adequate to track connections. But thanks for the thought.

@VanillaMozilla
VanillaMozilla wrote:You may also have forgetten about the Mozilla start page and Google as your home page.

I used about:config to remove both of those, but even though the URL has gone, it doesn't make any difference to FF establishing a connection to that Mozilla IP I mentioned.

VanillaMozilla wrote:I don't know how to break this to you, but I think you kinda forgot something. Every time you use a search engine -- <i>any</i> search engine -- you have to tell them what you are searching for, and they remember. Let's see, you downloaded all this software from Mozilla and you run it on your computer every day, you constantly use a search engine, and you're worried about downloading a list of bad Web sites.


I think you've misconstrued what my post is about. If I use a search engine, then yes, I agree that they will cache the data. But this post is not about using search tools, but about a search tool watching everything you do even when you're not using it. I take the view that it's a bit naive to assume Google isn't eavesdropping on everything the user is doing everytime the browser is launched. But that's a personal opinion. Suffice to say though that Firefox isn't an independent browser in my opinion.

VanillaMozilla wrote:I think you automatically connect when you shut down.

I don't know why you assume that IE connects to Microsoft every time you shut it down. I've seen no evidence to support that claim.

Reflective wrote:I'm not quibbling about Mozilla earning a few millions from Google searches....
VanillaMozilla wrote:Yes you are. But you can turn this off too.

I think you're being childish.

@Daifne

Daifne wrote:As for Microsoft, your computer also contacts them at boot with their spyware, WGA. You don't even have to open a browser for that.


WGA is a Microsoft verificiation tool. It doesn't phone home every day, but once a fortnight. Check your firewall logs: you'll see that I'm right. Anyway, I don't blame MS for wanting to protect their own products and WGA merely checks to see if you're using a pirate copy.

greenknight

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Post Posted March 23rd, 2007, 2:52 am

Windows records everything you do in index.dat files, which you can't delete because they're always in use. I trust you use CCleaner regularly, it marks those files to be deleted at reboot (which is the only way to get rid of them).
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Reflective
 
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Post Posted March 23rd, 2007, 5:09 am

greenknight wrote:Windows records everything you do in index.dat files, which you can't delete because they're always in use. I trust you use CCleaner regularly, it marks those files to be deleted at reboot (which is the only way to get rid of them).

You can delete any or all of the index.dat files anytime you like. All you need do is to login with another admin account. Windows XP Pro creates two of those by default. On the Home version, every user is a superuser.

Anyway, I found out why the FF connects to Google. It's because Google hosts the FF startup page according to this blog. As reported by the blog I mentioned earlier though, FF accepts the Google cookie the first time the user launches it. Therefore it has a free rein on all subsequent browser sessions. The interesting thing is that even if the user chooses a different homepage, it still connects to Google.

VanillaMozilla wrote:Every time you use a search engine -- <i>any</i> search engine -- you have to tell them what you are searching for, and they remember....

Not this one apparently. Click the "Protects Your Privacy" button for more info.

There's also some interesting titbits here

wolo1
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Post Posted March 23rd, 2007, 5:40 am

@Reflective

I've had similar concerns when I did the upgrade to FF 1.5.x the first time and the firewall told me that FF wants to connect to Google, so I understand your point.

Beside the hints you've already seen in this thread, I've got a further advice from somewhere in this forum. I don't know whether you have a searchbar at all, because you've mentioned that you didn't install any search plugin. But if you have one, uncheck the option 'Show search suggestions' under 'Manager Search Enginess ...' and see if this changes something.

Guest
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Post Posted March 23rd, 2007, 6:36 am

The interesting thing is that even if the user chooses a different homepage, it still connects to Google.

No it doesn't. I've been checking current connections for the last 2 hours and it hasn't once connected to Google.

http://tinyurl.com/8thbh

VanillaMozilla
 
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Post Posted March 23rd, 2007, 9:47 am

VanillaMozilla wrote:You may also have forgetten about the Mozilla start page and Google as your home page.
Reflective wrote:Anyway, I found out why the FF connects to Google. It's because Google hosts the FF startup page....
Yep. That's why it says "Firefox Start" and "Google".

Reflective wrote:I used about:config to remove both of those, but even though the URL has gone, it doesn't make any difference to FF establishing a connection to that Mozilla IP I mentioned.
Nope. Can you think why that might be?

Reflective wrote:I think you've misconstrued what my post is about. If I use a search engine, then yes, I agree that they will cache the data.
IF? I think you're spending two hours in the sun every day and then worrying about get a sunburn from a street light. Good luck not using search engines.

Did it ever occur to you that you have bigger things to worry about than open-source software?

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Post Posted March 23rd, 2007, 9:59 am

Reflective wrote:Anyway, I found out why the FF connects to Google. It's because Google hosts the FF startup page according to this blog.

Don't be devious, Reflective, you found out why because Vanilla told you a few posts back, remember?

Reflective to Vanilla wrote:I think you're being childish...

...and I think that we will have far less cheek from you, my lad. Neither will we have these childish, all in CAPS thread titles from you again, will we.
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