Protect Your Privacy with These Browser Extensions

Author Chinavasion Marketing 20.5.2013. | 21:36


There are many browser extensions that are promoted as a good and safe tool to surf the web. However, in a vast supply one must ask himself – which extension is the best for me? Is this just a marketing trick or really useful add-on? Read on to find out the answers.

We’ve talked about why you should careabout your privacyseveral times here, so whether you choose to do something to protect yourself is up to you—we’re not going to rehash it. Instead, we’re going to dive into the tools available to keep your data safe. Most of them fall into three groups: add-ons that prevent third parties from tracking your movements, add-ons that block ads and scripts, and passive security tools that enforce good habits. Don’t worry, though. You don’t need to download a ton of apps to keep yourself safe and your data close to pocket. Here are the best in each group.

Here we are going to list out only our main recommendations. If you want to see some alternatives, visit the where they are explained more detailed.

Block Ads, Scripts, and Popups with AdBlock Plus

Ad and script blockers give you control over your browsing experience. They can block ads on the sites you visit and kill third-party scripts and widgets that send your data to who knows where. However, with great power comes great responsibility: If you don’t know how to use them, these tools can break the sites you read, rendering them unusable until you figure out what to allow and what to block. Plus, blocking ads can has a very real impact on the site and the people who work on it (like us here at Lifehacker). Even so, it puts the power into your hands to decide which sites are worth supporting and which are just too annoying to use without an ad-blocker.

AdBlock Plus (Firefox/Chrome) blocks banner ads, pop-up ads, rollover ads, and more. It stops you from visiting known malware-hosting domains, and also disables third-party tracking cookies and scripts. We think it has the right combination of ease-of-use, on-and-off toggling, and hands-off management that makes it a tool that anyone can pick up and use. Power users can get their hands dirty with different subscription lists and tweaking the active lists they use, but basic users can enable it and walk away.

See the list of the alternatives here

Stop Everyone from Tracking You with Disconnect

Anti-tracking and anti-cookie extensions have exploded recently. We covered a number of them when we discussed how you can stop companies from tracking your movements on the web. Since then, the market has only grown, with more extensions and apps that all honestly do the same thing, with little more than UI tweaks and differences between them.

Disconnect (Firefox/Chrome/IE/Safari) is our pick because it continues to add useful features and improve its database, and its secure Wi-Fi and bandwidth optimization features aren’t available in other tools. It blocks third party tracking cookies and gives you control over all site scripts and elements from a simple-to-use toolbar menu. It also protects you from tracking by social networks like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, which use your browsing even off-site to collect data about you. Finally, Disconnect protects you from sidejacking (or widgetjacking), where an attacker can use stolen cookies to access personal data without having to know your password, with its Secure Wi-Fi feature.

See the list of the alternatives here

Additional Privacy Tools You Should Have

In addition to privacy protecting tools and ad blockers, a few other add-ons, utilities, and services came up while we were researching this piece that you shouldn’t roam the web without.

HTTPS Everywhere (Firefox/Chrome) is a must-have regardless of what other security tools you opt to use. Once installed, the extension will shunt your connection to SSL whenever possible, and will try to find secure versions of the sites you visit. It’s a great way to protect your browsing without really lifting a finger. It can break some sites that weren’t meant to work with HTTPS though, so you may have to whitelist sites from time to time if the secure version doesn’t work.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts all of your internet traffic and offers the most possible protection from prying eyes. We’ve covered VPN services in detail before, including what to look for, what makes a good one, and some great providers to try. Look for a provider that keeps only the minimum required logs for troubleshooting purposes, offers strong encryption, is well regarded by its users, and offers multiple exits locations. Contrary to common belief, don’t just spring for any offshore VPN—just because your VPN provider is in a far-off country doesn’t mean it’s secure, or at all private. For more suggestions, our friends at TorrentFreak just updated their list of providers that take your anonymity seriously, and it looks a bit like ours. If you’re just looking for a free or freemium service to keep you protected while you’re out and about, and you’re not ready to try on a full, paid, VPN service yet (or roll your own), try Hotspot Shield, Hideman, or Tunnelbear.

Antivirus and Antimalware utilities are essential to protecting security. It may sound like “How to Internet: 101,” but taking care to avoid suspicious sites, practice good internet hygiene (eg, not opening suspicious attachments, checking file names before you download, etc), and keep updated antivirus and antimalware tools on your PC is important. Often the term “privacy” is couched in terms of advertising and marketing, but the risk of identity theft and getting infected with ransomware is growing. We’ve recently updated our pick for the best antivirus app for Windows, and we have some options for Mac as well. Looking for antimalware? These suggestions will get you started.

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Do you have any favourite addons / tips for protecting privacy? Share them with us in the comments section below.

Author Chinavasion Marketing 20.5.2013. | 21:36
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