Cloud Firewall - A content blocker for Firefox

We took over the #CloudFirewall add-on for #Firefox which allows you to block six of the biggest cloud providers in a easy way.
Cloud Firewall supports blocking #Google , #Amazon , #Apple , #Facebook , #Microsoft and #CloudFlare by switching just a single toggle.
Unlike other blockers, CloudFirewall doesn't only rely on domains but checks the IP addresses of websites so that it doesn't only block websites which belong to those cloud providers but also all websites which rent their servers there but may be unrelated otherwise.
It was created as a research project by Gokulakrishna Sudharsan earlier this year but unfortunately he abandoned the project and also removed it from the #Mozilla add-ons store.
As many of these big cloud companies are known for collecting user-data, we found it useful for protecting your privacy and protecting your right to choose where you want to see content from, too and so we decided that the development of this add-on must continue.
Now Cloud Firewall is already available on the Mozilla add-ons store again and the source code is available under GPL 3.0 at #NotABug
The biggest change we did for the first version was adding a detailed and user-friendly page with information about which content was blocked on the website currently opened.
It was already possible to copy this information to the clipboard in many formats before (and still is) and you could paste it into a text editor but it wasn't as good to read as it is now.
Other changes are fixes of some well-known false positives like FuckOffGoogle.de or NoMoreGoogle which were blocked when block Google was checked while, in fact, they aren't hosted at Google or the problem that the popup had a design glitch when the domain name was too long, for example at Onion V3 domains.
We did also change the links for the repository and the credits and changed the cloud order to GAFAM(+C).
As the priority was going online again as soon as possible, that's all we've done for now but there are plans for turning on or off each cloud provider per domain and support translating the interface into different languages by accepting translations from the community.
Another important thing we have to do is checking if the plugin also works with forks of Firefox such as #IceCat , #Waterfox , #TorBrowser or #Fennec
You can download Cloud Firewall for free from addons.mozilla.org/addon/cloud-firewall.
The source code is available on NotABug at nipos/cloud-firewall.
If you find any problems, want a new feature or have any question, you can comment here or create a issue on NotABug.


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Times are changing - So are services

Today we finally gave an update to the list of services on our homepage.
Yes,this blog was quite quiet during the last few months but we still did much work to make the web a better place,mostly with minor updates for #Halcyon which aren't worth longer posts.
The more important news are our two new #Mastodon #GlitchSoc instances https://mstdn.es and https://mastodon.bayern in addition to our first instance https://muensterland.social .
Mstdn.es was launched as a totally new service at the beginning of the year to provide a new home for many Spanish people who were moving away from #Twitter to the #Fediverse .
There weren't many Spanish instances back then so we decided to create one,even without anyone from the Nikisoft team being able to read or write Spanish but https://deepl.com/translator is a big help in that case.
Some months later,we've taken over Mastodon.bayern as the former administrator wanted to leave while keeping the service up and running.
As always,we wanted to help the free and open social network and therefore made the decision to take this instance over and give it a safe future.
In response to the huge additional need of resources,we expanded the disk space for media on our server hardware and should be well prepared for the next months and then we still have three slots left for another additional hard disks.
As of now,the bandwidth doesn't seem to be a limiting factor - we were very worried about that at the beginning.
All three instances are running on the same machine so that we could setup a VDO (Virtual Disk Optimizer) partition which does deduplication on the media and saves us tons of disk space.
They all seem to have a more or less active community with some people who post on a regular base and we're happy to provide them a free home in the social media world.
On other news,we made the decision to discontinue our services YouFail and ChromeOS Forum and took them down already,including the remove of all links from our information page.
Both sites have never been popular and only wasted resources on our servers as well as money for the domain so we thought it would be better to take them offline,nobody will miss them anyway.
In future we're planning to provide even more services,as always free of trackers and free to use.
In the coming months,important changes to our infrastructure will be made allowing us to scale further and protect the privacy of our users even better.
We're planning to migrate from #CloudFlare as content delivery network and protection suite to the paid Swiss company #KeyCDN because many of our users are worried about the privacy at CloudFlare.
As https://keycdn.com is billed on a per-use base instead of different fixed-price plans for enhanced features,we will be able to make use of even more features while paying a fair price based on our organic growth.
By migrating to KeyCDN,we will be able to save much bandwidth and traffic due to their improved caching features where edge nodes ask a central KeyCDN cache server first before they ask our own application server.
We expect huge improvements on performance and scalability for our Mastodon media delivery by that.
Additionally we're planning to migrate all of our domains step by step from https://lima-city.de to https://hostsharing.net as our old provider has made some decisions like preventing all #Tor users from accessing their service and all webpages of their users or uploading backups of all user data to Google Cloud and we're not willing to support that by wasting even more money at this company.
We're a bit sad that it had to come to such an end because we've been using their service for many years but #Hostsharing seems to be a very good alternative which fully respects privacy by not using any third-party services on their website,allowing access using Tor and not transferring user data to third-parties in other countries.
Unfortunately the remaining time of the domains can't be transferred so we have to make all transfers short before the domain expires to prevent the waste of even more money.
For the main domain nikisoft.one this means that we have to wait almost three years while we can start to transfer the first domain in one or two months already.
That's all for now and we hope that you like what we did and what we're planning to do.
As always,we're happy about your feedback which you can submit by replying to this post using a ActivityPub compatible software like Mastodon or privately using our contact form at https://www.nikisoft.one/contact.php
We'll soon post a follow-up which exclusively covers the development of #CloudFirewall which recently made a new milestone with the release of version 2.0.0

CloudFirewall 2.0.0 and what we've done to get there

About one month ago we released the first very big update for our #CloudFirewall #Firefox add-on.
We decided to wait some time with writing this post as many sad things happened with Firefox in recent times and we have to respond to that somehow,more on that later.
The biggest change with the new Cloud Firewall version is that it does now support translations into multiple languages. Very big thanks to @pixelcode@social.tchncs.de for implementing all code needed for supporting translations as well as writing the first translation.
With version 2.0.0 Cloud Firewall already supports the languages English,German and French and we're sure that there will be even more in future versions.
You can help translating Cloud Firewall on our translations platform - If your language isn't available,just contact us anywhere and we'll add it.
The previous Cloud Firewall version unfortunately had some bugs which we didn't notice for a quite long time - That's now all fixed.
It wasn't possible to change the settings in the last version: While the page was displayed correctly,the Javascript event listener which should have listened on user input wasn't setup correctly so no changes were stored and after reloading the page,everything was reset to the default values.
The only thing which could be changed was which cloud providers should be blocked as global default.
Another problematic thing was that predefined rules for well-known sites were ignored.
Normally pages get blocked based on the owner of their IP address which will be detected correctly even if the predefined rules don't work and you'll see no wrong behavior here.
Unfortunately some pages are a special case,for example Discord which rents their origin servers at Google Cloud but proxies every request through CloudFlares network.
So Discord should be blocked for both Google Cloud and CloudFlare as they're using both services.
Unluckily the IP detection code will block it only for CloudFlare as the origin servers are hidden and no Google IP is ever seen but we know that they're using it from their status page.
Similar things happen for example for Instagram: It belongs to the Facebook company but the servers are hosted on Amazon - The IP detection would only block it for Amazon but it should be blocked for Facebook,too.
You see that the missing predefined rules lead to a lot of false-negatives which resulted in less privacy and we're very sorry that that happened.
A non-privacy-related but still annoying bug was that you couldn't set exceptions for pages if they are directly affected and not only their subressources.
I don't have any idea how I should explain the reason as the internal logic of Cloud Firewall is very complicated but it's fixed now.
Let's have a quick look on the next version
Thanks to a contribution by @pixelcode@social.tchncs.de the next version will get a completely new design.
It will work without Bootstrap and therefore reduce the size of the add-on.
Along with that we'll try to heavily improve the structure of the pages to make it easier to understand and look less buggy.
There will be many small optimizations which should lead to a cleaner overall experience.
We don't have any date planned for the next release and it may take some weeks or even a few months as there's much to do in other projects and the current Cloud Firewall version does its job pretty good.
What the hell happened with Mozilla?!?!
Maybe that's what many of you thought when reading about mass layoffs at #Mozilla and no,we don't have a answer to that question,too.
Other alarming developments in the Firefox world are the lack of a working extension support in the new Firefox for #Android and a new big deal with #Google ,the worlds largest threat against privacy.
There are many reasons why we find it important to expand support for Cloud Firewall to other browsers while,of course,still maintaining Firefox support as main priority.
Maybe the current version 2.0.0 will already arrive in some other browsers.
We'll have a look at what needs to be done to support Firefox forks like #Waterfox which already support the modern #WebExtensions and how much we'll have to rewrite to support Firefox forks on a older code base which stick to the old extension format like #PaleMoon or #Basilisk
The latter will be harder to support but if it's not impossible,we'll think about the question if it's worth it as these browsers are a important contributor to diversity in a browser-world where nearly everything runs on top of the same code base written by the worlds biggest privacy threat.
And for those who prefer browsers based on #Chromium we even see a chance of bringing Cloud Firewall to the #Opera add-ons store which would effectively make it available to every user of Opera and #YandexBrowser
This won't be so easy as the API which is responsible for the core functionality of Cloud Firewall is only available on Firefox but maybe we can workaround that somehow by directly throwing HTTPS requests to any DoH (DNS over HTTPS) server but we'll have to see how much of an impact this will have to performance.
My personal guess is that it will be much slower than using the native DNS API in Firefox.
On the other hand,Yandex Browser for Android still has unlimited support for extensions while the new Firefox hasn't so that might be the only chance to continue Cloud Firewall support on the Android platform.
Developing decent support for multiple browsers will be one of the hardest changes that can be done to Cloud Firewall but we feel that it's needed so we'll look what can be done as soon as possible.