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I would never browse without NoScript, however I am reluctant to recommend it to my clients.  NoScript is a Firefox Add-on. It keeps you much safer than you would be without it. What NoScript does, is stop all scripting from all sites, unless you give them permission. You may grant permission to any site to run scripts on your computer either temporarily or permanently. The advantage is that you will be much safer. The disadvantage is that it will require active browsing. You'll have to be alert because sometimes some function on a website won't work because it requires scripting.

What is Scripting?

Essentially, in this context, scripting allows websites to run little programs on your computer. This could allow forms or menus to work. It allows video or music to play. Many of the wonderful features of the web which we enjoy use scripting. The problem with scripting is that it can allow malicious software to run on your computer as well. You know you shouldn't download and run a file from an untrusted site, but letting that site run scripts on your computer is essentially the same thing. Furthermore, many sites link to other sites and have them run the scripts. Scripts for advertising or displaying video may not come from the site you visited but a partner site. So even if you trust the people you visit, do you also trust the other four sites they let run scripts on their clients' computers? I don't.

What NoScript Does

NoScript stops all scripting. However it allows you to: 1. Permanently Enable all scripting on that site 2. Permanently Enable any of the auxiliary sites that also run scripts from that site 3. Temporarily Enable scripting on a site 4. Temporarily Enable scripting for any of the auxiliary sites that also run scripts from a site 5. Permanently enable scripting on all sites 6. Temporarily enable scripting on all sites

Anything you enable can later be disabled. Temporary enabling will require re-enabling the next time the site is visited.

What this means is that if you want scripting to run on some site all the time, you can just enable it for that site permanently and never be asked again. If you go to a new site and see that 8 different places are trying to run scripts on your computer and you don't know which need to be enabled, you can simply enable all either permanently or temporarily. I tend to walk through each one and see if I can at least stop some of them and still get the benefits of the site.

Noscript is very popular and very well  reviewed. Over 50 million copies have been downloaded from the Mozilla add-on site and it is adding over 600,000 per week.

If it is so great, why are you hesitant to recommend it?

The problem with NoScript is that sometime you'll click on a link and it won't work. Sometimes you'll go through an entire site and then decide to buy something and the final purchase will be the very first thing that requires a script and you won't know why it isn't working. So, it will cause some aggravation. It requires Active Browsing. That means you browse but stay alert for traps or problems, like when you drive your car you may enjoy a pleasant drive with great scenery, but you are alert for possible hazards, like kids or dogs running out into the road or a car pulling out. Many people believe they can browse in a state of semi-consciousness. If you are one of those, don't use NoScript. If you are willing to add a very small layer of extra complexity to your browsing, then NoScript will keep you much safer.

Date: July 2009

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