Web browsers are a lot more sophisticated today than they were in years past, and much more secure as well. Back in the dark days of web browsers when Firefox was still in its infancy, most users typically had to use Internet Explorer. Even though there are a lot of open source and more secure web browsers these days, however, there are still a lot of security concerns to think about. Believe it or not, websites can garner a lot of information about you via your web browser, such as the operating system you are using as well as your current location.
Though Firefox is open source and has a massive collection of security tools, plugins, and addons, it must be said that Chrome is also a favorable alternative. After all, it was created by Google, and they are renowned worldwide for created some of the best Internet services. Chrome is faster than many other browsers, and out of the box, it is lightweight and integrates nicely with other Google services. Some of the integration features are a little more obscure and not often thought of, but they make using services like Google Drive a lot easier.
For example, Chrome allows users to select an entire folder (and all of its sub-directories and files) for upload via Google Chrome. On the other hand, Firefox doesn’t support this feature, requiring users to select one file at a time or create a compressed archive. But despite all of it’s great features, the Chrome browser isn’t fully open source, and it does suffer from some notable security flaws that are common with other browsers, like dangerous types of cookies, for example. Nevertheless, there is an open source version of Google Chrome called Chromium. And because it is open source, it has encouraged developers to create more addons and custom tools/extensions for this increasingly popular web browser.
The good news is that many of these security pitfalls and shortcomings can be easily remedied with a variety of browser extensions designed to increase security. To help you find the best tools, we have compiled a list of the best security extensions for Chrome and Chromium.
EFF.org’s Privacy Badger tops my list for its efficiency. It is simple to use because it requires no configuration or tinkering with advanced settings. Although based off Adblock Plus’s code, it does a better job at blocking trackers than ABP, Disconnect, Ghostery, and most similar privacy extensions. All of those options are capable of blocking as much as Privacy Badger, none of them can do it without the user having configured the extension further after installing it. PB does this by employing ever improving algorythms to detect trackers and stop them dead in their tracks.
If you’re like most people, you only care enough about ads to lend them your attention during the Super Bowl. Sometimes, targeted online advertising can become a frustrating nightmare. Fortunately, Adblock Plus will help by preventing ad popups from populating your browser window. It is actually very well designed, and it will help strip ads that are embedded in YouTube content as well as Facebook advertising. And it will even disable tracking cookies if you visit a domain that is known to host malware.
Some updates to the extension do require a bit of extra configuration on the user’s part, though. They have decided to permit some special ads that they deem to be acceptable to breach their extension’s defense as a default setting. To disable this feature, simply browse through to Adblock Plus Options, Filter Lists, and then uncheck the option that is labeled “Allow some non-intrusive advertising. If that weren’t enough, you can even import additional lists of blocked ads such as Fanboy and EasyList.
If you don’t like cookies and tracking methods surveying your every online activity, then we’ve got the tool for you. Disconnect is, admittedly, one of the better extensions that solves cookie and tracking problems. But it also comes chock full of analytics tools, Wi-Fi encryption, a wealth of up to date cookie details which are stored in a database, and even page load optimization tools. Instead of a website controlling your browser, you’ll be put in full charge of your resources. It even stops sites from tracking your web visiting history to prevent targeted advertising. However, all the premium features come at a cost, unlike most available extensions which have remained free of cost.
Vanilla Cookie Manager
Yet another cookie manager, though this tool is superior than many of its competitors. You can either block cookies by default or select certain ones that you want to allow. There’s even a handy feature that deletes cookies after you close your browser window or in intervals of 30 minutes. This tool is far more advanced than the cookie options contained in Chrome/Chromium by default.
Click and Clean
Dirty browser? Clean it up…with Click & Clean! Over time, our browsers will run more and more slowly due to cached data, aggressive and harmful cookies, URL caches, download histories, and browsing history data. However, this tool is more advanced than simply using the option in your browser to delete this information manually. Not only will it help remove unwanted cookies, but it has a lot of advanced options that surpass your standard browser’s functionality.
Credit Card Nanny
It’s 2016, so every site that accepts payment card information inherently encrypts it before sending it to another destination, right? Wrong! It’s tough to believe, but there are still some sites that accept digital payments and transfer the data in plain text. Credit Card Nanny will help ensure that you only send payments to secure sites that have a genuine SSL certificate and that your data will be sent in an encrypted format.
Ghostery has many similar features as Disconnect, and it too contains anti-tracking and anti-cookie features. It will drill down and show you each and every component of a site that is trying to track you, and even provide you with details to help you make decisions about what to block. Although they offer a browser extension, the service extends to business platforms and needs.
This handy tool was developed by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), and it helps users only make connections to websites in an encrypted format (which is one of the Internet’s chief goals) using HTTPS. Some websites still use SSL, but it is widely believed that powerful organizations, such as the NSA, have already found a way to crack the SSL protocol. If a site doesn’t provide HTTPS, it will at least throw up a warning flag so you don’t accidentally connect to an unsecure website.
This tool should be included as part of the default Chrome code. It will basically throw a warning if you are about to send login credentials in an unencrypted format. Though you should always check your browser for the padlock icon that indicates the use of HTTPS, we’ve all forgotten to do so at one time or another.
This tool does a great job of blocking Java scripts that are not needed for a site’s functionality without any advanced knowledge or configuration by the user. You can quickly add trusted websites and the extension pretty much manages itself without much effort. Although light and simple, it is not as advanced as most alternatives.
ScriptSafe is a handy utility that prevents unwanted scripts from running in your browser. There are a lot of security concerns revolving around the use of iFrames, plugins, and scripts embedded in web pages that can potentially harm your computer or steal information. This tool will allow users to separate types of scripts into different categories to permit/deny them from running in the future. Unfortunately, this tool is rather advanced and requires a lot of background knowledge to be used effectively.
I hope this list has provided all the best available options today, but if you feel there are more that should be added to this list, please leave a comment below and we will update the content to cover any efficient extensions that have been missed.