A quick post on using the Firefox add-on NoScript as a way to raise students understanding of how web pages use scripts. Note I have not used this in class yet.
Working with multi-media students I am always surprised by a relative naivety about browsing the internet. Awareness of issues like privacy and security seem to take second place to issues of design looks and cool features.
A simple way to raise awareness of one aspect of web security would be to get them to use the NoScript addon to Firefox. When you visit a site the add-on allows you to see what domains want to run scripts. For example going to the BBC News home page we can see 5 domains wanting to run scripts:
Four of them have bbc in them, the fifth is something called revsci. Looking that up we find out that it is an advertising company called Audience Science – read more info on revsci.
You then tell students to see how much of the BBC site they can use without having to enable any of the domains.
Next ask students to pick three of their favourite sites and do the same, i.e. look up the domains unrelated to the site, navigate site without enabling any domains.
Students could then pair up and exchange what they had found. Finally a whole class feedback is done to discuss the findings (e.g. tabulate the most common offsite domains) and the wider issues of browsing privacy and security.
Thanks for reading.
4 thoughts on “Using NoScript to raise awareness of web page scripts”
I started out having similar thoughts to this, before changing my mind:
I like having access to these commercial sites for free. I don’t want to pay them.
However, the bleak reality is that they earn money through advertisment, and if they have data, they can make that advertisment more effective, and so give them more money.
I don’t think all sites should have ads and data collection (ie: Amazon.com and apple.com and sites which’s main revenue is not advertisment.)
However, I would rather have targeted ads with good free sites than untargeted ads/no ads and fewer good free sites.
Feel free to disagree 🙂
i thought your comment was spam at first hehe 🙂
the post was to get students thinking about the sites they browse so that they can make informed opinions much like yours.
your view is very reasonable and well argued – can only wish for such thinking from my students 🙂
thanks for commenting
I should work on that spam lookalike… yeah… it does look like spam. 🙂
I think I will install noscripts just to see what exactly there is though 🙂 Thanks for the post 🙂