Question A little big Browser Add-on related challenge

PlayerFromTheITtic

Level 6
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May 19, 2014
280
Hello there, Malwaretipsians!

So, regarding the face of today's web that is filled with ads, trackers and annoyances (not to mention security and phishing threats) we aim to get a harder, better, faster, stronger experience out of it. And we have tools for that such as content blocker, like uBlock Origin and AdGuard Browser Extension (and for more focus on security and phishing threats, you got stuff like Malwarebytes Browser Guard and Emsisoft Browser Security). I like I.T and I'm curious, so I try to get the most efficient, yet reasonably lightweight (and as straightforward as possible) solution that would cover multiple specific scenarios:

  • Ad and tracking blocking is actually rather easy to deal with, thanks to AdGuard Browser Extension and uBlock Origin:
    • For the trackeers, I use AdGuard Tracking Protection filter & AdGuard URL Tracking filter (with the right suitable version for uBlock Origin)
    • For the ads, job is done thanks to the OPTIMIZED version of AdGuard Base filter & AdGuard's insertyourlanguageofchoiceifavailable filter (with the right suitable version for uBlock Origin)
  • Annoyances represent a trickier part. Even with the proper filter lists, there're still some cases an annoyance might slip through and then you have to come up with a workaround, be it another add-on, another filter list and so on. Four examples in particular:
    • YouTube with the Sign-in and cookie dialogs. One possible workaround is to get a userscript manager and grab something to address it
    • Facebook: Either a form of pop-up forcing you to log-in or a cookie dialog. Former can be filtered with the proper filter list (for instance, AdGuard Annoyances filter), latter could be dealt with I don't care about cookies Browser Add-on or perhaps another filter list. I'm not 100% sure but I think uBlock Origin is not able to deal with it as well as AdGuard Browser Extension can
    • Twitter: A form of pop-up forcing you to log-in and a cookie banner. Both can be dealt with the proper filter list (for instance, AdGuard Annoyances filter)... But only if you use AdGuard Browser Extension, uBlock Origin will not be able to do the same
    • Le Monde: Cookie notice. uBlock Origin's Advanced User mode can be put in use to hide it, however you won't be able to scroll; so it doesn't quite cut it
  • Even though I do have a lifetime licence for AdGuard for Windows, I'm currently not using it. When HTTPS Scanning is enabled (and that might not be the best thing to do, see this post and its comments), Internet connection is slower (despite improvements in recent versions) and it might cause conflicts with third-party security software (although it can be fixed by disabling the use of WFP driver in the settings).
Basically, I'm looking for a way to have all this handled by the same Browser Add-on, a way that could work for both uBlock Origin and AdGuard Browser Extension and for all browsers supporting them. Not having to add too many filter lists and/or add-ons would be nice since the idea is to manage all that stuff from an unique place.

If anything I can share what is probably the best result I achieved so far:

  • Add-ons in use: AdGuard Browser Extension and an userscript manager (Tampermonkey on Firefox, built-in manager on Vivaldi)
  • Filter lists used in AG B E: AdGuard Tracking Protection filter, AdGuard URL Tracking filter, AdGuard Base filter (Optimized), AdGuard French filter (Optimized), AdGuard Annoyances filter, in total less than 100k filtering rules
  • (YouTube) Sign-in and cookie dialogs are handled via this userscript
  • (Facebook) Form of pop-up forcing you to log-in is dealt with, but the cookie dialog appears (would have to use one more filter list/add-on)
  • (Twitter) AG B E handles both the cookie dialog and the form of pop-up forcing you to log-in, while uBlock Origin wouldn't achieve the same result, making current solution not "universal"
  • (Le Monde) AdGuard Annoyances filter through AG B E can deal with the cookie notice and website is scrollable, but some elements don't seem to be displayed properly (something like a broken mobile version)
  • I'm using NextDNS system-wide and the Emsisoft Browser Security add-on

So yeah, what I'm looking for is to get the most efficient yet straightforward solution, that would require as less add-ons as possible (AdGuard Browser Extension/uBlock Origin being the one "content manager") while being as universal as possible (working on major web browsers, with a reasonable amount of necessary adjustments to account for the different capabilites of the browser engines). I consider both AD B E and uBlock Origin to be quite capable and powerful tools and I want to believe both of them can deal with all these situations, allowing us to not bother with the installation of more stuff. Let's see what you'll come up with :D

Thanks in advance for your understanding and participation to this "challenge", and happy clutter-free browsing :3
 
Last edited:

oldschool

Level 69
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Mar 29, 2018
5,804
Well, since you like µBO and AG my question is: are you using Advanced User mode (µBO) or their built-in custom rule generator? If you do that you may be able to ditch the userscript. Otherwise you probably have it covered. No need for anything else.

Oh, and for phishing don't forget NetCraft is an option though I don't think @Evjl's Rain or others have recently tested anti-phishing extensions to see how they're doing.

Malwaretipsians!
That's a new one on me! :LOL:
 

Jan Willy

Level 8
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Jul 5, 2019
382
@tailHey
A nice reflection about browser add-ons. IMO it can't be regarded separately from the browser(s) you use and its settings. For instance Mozilla based browsers can be modified on points (webgl, beacons, stripping URLs) that require an add-on (extension) in Cromium-based browsers. It doesn't take away that even the strict setting for ad- and tracker blocking in many browsers isn't sufficient. So it's hardly impossible to avoid add-ons (or a desktop solution like Adguard for Windows).
 

PlayerFromTheITtic

Level 6
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May 19, 2014
280
Well, since you like µBO and AG my question is: are you using Advanced User mode (µBO) or their built-in custom rule generator? If you do that you may be able to ditch the userscript. Otherwise you probably have it covered. No need for anything else.

Oh, and for phishing don't forget NetCraft is an option though I don't think @Evjl's Rain or others have recently tested anti-phishing extensions to see how they're doing.


That's a new one on me! :LOL:
I'm aware of the advanced uBo capabilities. Unfortunately it's not enough. For instance, on Le Monde website, I can use the Advanced User mode feature to block the cookie notice, but doing so also prevents website from being scrollable.
@tailHey
A nice reflection about browser add-ons. IMO it can't be regarded separately from the browser(s) you use and its settings. For instance Mozilla based browsers can be modified on points (webgl, beacons, stripping URLs) that require an add-on (extension) in Cromium-based browsers. It doesn't take away that even the strict setting for ad- and tracker blocking in many browsers isn't sufficient. So it's hardly impossible to avoid add-ons (or a desktop solution like Adguard for Windows).
I know, the point is not to use zero add-ons, but to come up with the most efficient yet straightforward solution, that requires as less add-ons as possible (uBo/AG B E would be the central "content manager") while being as universal as possible, with minor adjustments according to the browser/browser engines (with Firefox having the upper hand here).
Also about AdGuard for Windows, I happen to own a lifetime licence and I know it's quite capable. However, Internet connection does seem to be reduced when using it with HTTPS scanning enabled (although it did get better with more recent versions), and it might cause some conflicts with third-party security software (although most of them seem to be fixable if you turn WFP driver off in AdGuard for Windows). It's unfortunate that I can't seem to just use it and call it a day.

Thanks for both your answers, I'll edit the first post to buy you and the others some time :)
 
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Jan Willy

Level 8
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Jul 5, 2019
382
I'm aware of the advanced uBo capabilities. Unfortunately it's not enough. For instance, on Le Monde website, I can use the Advanced User mode feature to block the cookie notice, but doing so also prevents website from being scrollable.
For this occasion I activated EasyList Cookie (35.458 rules) in uBlock Origin. It filters the cookie notice on LeMonde and doesn't limit the use of the site.
 

rain2reign

Level 8
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Jun 21, 2020
344
This is my current setup on Firefox. Which I have divided into three categories. Cat 3 you can delete and none would be the wiser nor would anyone even care. Cat 2 are just plain useful, but up to users' discretion.

With FireMonkey I manage my userscripts and don't do anything with CSS any more even though it has the capability for it built-in. And among the userscripts I use at this time of writing, disregarding QoL userscripts, that do stand out are:
  • Coloured Like/Dislike Ratio
    • Returns the ancient YouTube green-red bar for like to dislike ratio. Why? Because I like fancy stuff.
  • Return YouTube Dislike
    • I just want to see the damn number, don't tell me what to do! rabble rabble rabble
  • Simple YouTube Age Restriction Bypass
    • As I don't/never login into my Google account for anything other than GMAIL due to its excellent "free" spam filter. I can't verify my age and stuff according to the screen. So I just bypass/block it...
  • STEAMNV (I wrote this one :D)
    • Same story as YouTube age restriction script, but for Steam. I only login to the client, but occasionally I browse within the browser or get linked a store page for in the browser. As I don't want to login to verify or too lazy to startup Steam.
If you either disregard or delete category 2 and 3 from the browser, then I basically am fully setup for browsing full-stop with a combination of uBlock Origin and FireMonkey. If I had to add one more add-on to category 1, then it would be something along the lines of 'Emsisoft Browser Security' add-on. That would then make it 3 pure essential add-ons in my mind. And that is not taking into account changes in preferences and about:config.

Category 1: Basic essential add-ons.
FireMonkey
Very useful, if you know what you're doing and have accepted the risks.​
uBlock Origin
Mode: Medium mode
'I am an advanced user' set to enabled.​
Default Filterlists + changes:​
AdGuard URL Tracking Protection: enabled
Phishing URL Blocklist: enabled
AdGuard Annoyances: enabled
uBlock filters - Annoyances: enabled
companion filter for AdGuard Annoyances and Fanboy's Annoyances.​
My regional filter: enabled
Peter Lowe’s Ad and tracking server list: disabled
Actually Legitimate URL Shortener Tool: imported
Beariddle Nuisances: imported [personal filterlist for small changes according to my own preference.]
StevenBlack/hosts: imported
Category 2: Optional add-ons with actual use.
Firefox Multi-Account Containers
Separate and/or organize your tabs in containers and fancy colours to make your life just that much eASiEr...​
Tabs Aside
Very useful if you want an add-on that functions similarly to Edge Browsers' collections feature WITHOUT using bookmark workarounds.​

Category 3: Quality of life add-ons, and can be done without.
7TV
Only QoL emote add-on you'll ever need, IF you use Twitch. Obsolete otherwise.​
LanguageTool
Your run-of-the-mill grammar and spelling check add-on.​
Print Friendly & PDF
More granular control over your .pdf document printouts.​
Simple Translate
User-friendly translation add-on for both DeepL and Google Translate. I.e., Select a word/sentence with your mouse and a translation option appears next to it.​
Sound Adjustment
Audio done wrong? Boost or lower the audio of that one specific tab.​


If you have come this far down, then you'd have probably realized that I'm crazy for writing and linking all this.
 
Last edited:

PlayerFromTheITtic

Level 6
Thread author
Verified
Well-known
May 19, 2014
280
For this occasion I activated EasyList Cookie (35.458 rules) in uBlock Origin. It filters the cookie notice on LeMonde and doesn't limit the use of the site.
Yes, this filter list can take care of that, so can I don't care about cookies add-on. But it'd be another filter list/add-on to use, and that works against the goal of the challenge. Besides, current setup does block the cookie notice and website is scrollable, it's just that some elements after a bit of scrolling look off visually. It's not an urgent priority anyway if rest of the challenge can be achieved.
This is my current setup on Firefox. Which I have divided into three categories. Cat 3 you can delete and none would be the wiser nor would anyone even care. Cat 2 are just plain useful, but up to users' discretion.

With FireMonkey I manage my userscripts and don't do anything with CSS any more even though it has the capability for it built-in. And among the userscripts I use at this time of writing, disregarding QoL userscripts, that do stand out are:
  • Coloured Like/Dislike Ratio
    • Returns the ancient YouTube green-red bar for like to dislike ratio. Why? Because I like fancy stuff.
  • Return YouTube Dislike
    • I just want to see the damn number, don't tell me what to do! rabble rabble rabble
  • Simple YouTube Age Restriction Bypass
    • As I don't/never login into my Google account for anything other than GMAIL due to its excellent "free" spam filter. I can't verify my age and stuff according to the screen. So I just bypass/block it...
  • STEAMNV (I wrote this one :D)
    • Same story as YouTube age restriction script, but for Steam. I only login to the client, but occasionally I browse within the browser or get linked a store page for in the browser. As I don't want to login to verify or too lazy to startup Steam.
If you either disregard or delete category 2 and 3 from the browser, then I basically am fully setup for browsing full-stop with a combination of uBlock Origin and FireMonkey. If I had to add one more add-on to category 1, then it would be something along the lines of 'Emsisoft Browser Security' add-on. That would then make it 3 pure essential add-ons in my mind. And that is not taking into account changes in preferences and about:config.

Category 1: Basic essential add-ons.
FireMonkey
Very useful, if you know what you're doing and have accepted the risks.​
uBlock Origin
Mode: Medium mode
'I am an advanced user' set to enabled.​
Default Filterlists + changes:​
AdGuard URL Tracking Protection: enabled
Phishing URL Blocklist: enabled
AdGuard Annoyances: enabled
uBlock filters - Annoyances: enabled
companion filter for AdGuard Annoyances and Fanboy's Annoyances.​
My regional filter: enabled
Peter Lowe’s Ad and tracking server list: disabled
Actually Legitimate URL Shortener Tool: imported
Beariddle Nuisances: imported [personal filterlist for small changes according to my own preference.]
StevenBlack/hosts: imported
Category 2: Optional add-ons with actual use.
Firefox Multi-Account Containers
Separate and/or organize your tabs in containers and fancy colours to make your life just that much eASiEr...​
Tabs Aside
Very useful if you want an add-on that functions similarly to Edge Browsers' collections feature WITHOUT using bookmark workarounds.​

Category 3: Quality of life add-ons, and can be done without.
7TV
Only QoL emote add-on you'll ever need, IF you use Twitch. Obsolete otherwise.​
LanguageTool
Your run-of-the-mill grammar and spelling check add-on.​
Print Friendly & PDF
More granular control over your .pdf document printouts.​
Simple Translate
User-friendly translation add-on for both DeepL and Google Translate. I.e., Select a word/sentence with your mouse and a translation option appears next to it.​
Sound Adjustment
Audio done wrong? Boost or lower the audio of that one specific tab.​


If you have come this far down, then you'd have probably realized that I'm crazy for writing and linking all this.
Your post was pleasant to read ha ha
Can't say it's a common setup, not uninteresting but works against the goal of the challenge.

------

Well I didn't say it was a simple task (hence the word "challenge"), no offense to anyone here but surely someone's got better suggestions? Not that what I've seen so far is bad but it doesn't fit the bill for what I'm aiming for.

Cheers, Malwaretipsians!
 

PlayerFromTheITtic

Level 6
Thread author
Verified
Well-known
May 19, 2014
280
So, I did a small update to the configuration. AdGuard has released several filterlists that were parts of their Annoyances filter. You can still use the latter if you wish to use the whole package, but I decided to disable it and use two of these new filterlists instead: AdGuard Cookie Notices, and Adguard Popups. So far so good, we'll see how it goes!
 

PlayerFromTheITtic

Level 6
Thread author
Verified
Well-known
May 19, 2014
280
I'm coming back to you all again with an update related to this challenge.

As I mentioned in the original post, I have a lifetime licence for AdGuard for Windows, but wasn't using it as I noticed a slower Internet connection despite improvements in recent versions. I decided to give it another go as maybe it was just a day when network performed less than usual, unrelated to my hardware. Turns out it's pretty much alright, latest versions definitely improved! There're still some caveats (such as the HTTPS Scanning "controversy") but most of them can be dealt with easily enough.

Here's the latest configuration:

  • Ad and tracking blocking is obviously handled by AdGuard for Windows:
    • For the trackers, I stuck to AdGuard Tracking Protection filter & AdGuard URL Tracking filter
    • For the ads, AdGuard Base filter & AdGuard's insertyourlanguageofchoiceifavailable filter will do (sometimes using the Optimized version -only for them though-, sometimes not depending of the mood, when I want to test stuff and so on)
    • As it also got userscript manager feature, I use AdGuard Extra and Popup Blocker
    • Browsers got AdGuard Browser Assistant (obviously for further increasing interaction between the browsers and the app)
  • The Annoyances part is dealt with AdGuard for Windows in a more straightforward manner:
    • After testing parts of the Annoyances filter list from AdGuard (AdGuard Cookie Notices, and AdGuard Popups), I reverted back to the main Annoyances filter list for the time being, I might test stuff around it to find a possibly even better result
      • YouTube with the Sign-in and cookie dialogs: AdGuard gets rid of them already (not having to rely on browser APIs does seem to give the app even better capabilities :D).
      • Facebook: Actually I didn't have to test it and see how well it's doing ha ha
      • Twitter: It appears that website found a way to enforce the log-in pop-up, one can only imagine AdGuard filter list maintainers will find a way to fight it back
      • Le Monde: Cookie notice is let's say unnoted ;)
  • After the release of AdGuard DNS 2.0, I decided to switch to this one instead of NextDNS
    • AdGuard for Windows offers a DNS Protection feature, I set it up to use my tweaked AdGuardDNS account with DNS-over-QUIC protocol (as of the day I made the switch, it was not yet possible to set up NextDNS on Windows using their client and use DNS-over-QUIC protocol)
  • I don't use the Browsing Security feature (eww Google Safe Browsing), I got the security part covered by other, better means :p
Et voilà ! What I came up was the closest to what I was aiming for. An universal solution that is efficient most of the time (with one "content manager") and reduce the number of add-ons/scripts to use, as well as the time to get a browser ready for basic daily browsing.

Thanks to all of you, from those who participated to those who got the curiosity of taking a look at this topic. Who knows, maybe it's inspired you to alter your own setup for the better?

Cheers Malwaretipsians, and happy clutter-free browsing :3