We’ve previously talked about ways to protect your email, or your web surfing, from hackers. One of the surest ways to protect yourself when on a public WiFi hotspot is by accessing the Internet through an SSL-encryted tunnel. Most services that offer that, though, cost money. Enter Cocoon, a free Firefox add-on that sends all of your browser traffic through an SSL encrypted tunnel.
Cocoon only works on Firefox. You install it like you would install any other Firefox add-on, after first setting up an account with Cocoon and following a link sent to your email address. You’ll then find a Cocoon login bar in your browser. Enter your login info, and you’ll be browsing securely. In Firefox 5, the Firefox dropdown menu changes color from orange to purple to signify that you’re browsing securely.
Cocoon offers some other features as well, such as a disposable mail service, if you want to sign up for sites with a disposable email address. Cocoon also saves your browsing history on their servers, instead of locally on your machine. You can disable the saving of your history, if you want.
My take after trying out Cocoon is that I would only use it in a pinch, such as when I was on a public WiFi hotspot and needed to be secure. I found it to be hit or miss. Sometimes it was speedy, and other times it was rather slow, but not unbearable if only used in short bursts. But for its price – free – you can’t complain.
For another option, check out our previous write-up on Hotspot Shield.
If you have any tips for secure browsing on public access points, let us know in the comments.