8 Chrome security extensions that can help protect your privacy


Best Security Extensions for Chrome

Modern browsers provide good protection against online threats. Google Safe Browsing, for example helps users stay safe online from malicious websites that may indulge in phishing, scams, malware, and other unsafe behavior. But the internet is a dangerous place, you never know how your browser can be tracked or get infected. Having the right extension can help solidify your browser’s security. Unfortunately, there are thousands of extensions available which makes it difficult for the average user to choose from.

We picked the best security extensions for Chrome, that will help protect your browser from ads, trackers, malware, and other risks.

Protect your online privacy with these Chrome security extensions

  • uBlock Origin The undisputed king of ad blockers.
  • HTTPS Everywhere –  Ensures that only HTTPS versions of websites are loaded.
  • ClearURLs –  Deletes tracking elements from links.
  • Cookie AutoDeleteDeletes cookies automatically.
  • Skip Redirect – Bypasses referring website, to directly take you to the actual web page.
  • LocalCDN – Improves page loading speeds, diverts web requests to use local resources.
  • DuckDuckGO Privacy Essentials – Sets DuckDuckGO as the default search engine, improves your privacy.
  • Bitwarden – Cross-platform, open source password manager.

List of the top 8 Chrome Extensions for browsing the internet safely

Let’s take a closer look at each of the add-ons to get a better understanding of what they have to offer. We’ll also tell you about the strengths and weaknesses of the extensions, to help you make your decision.

uBlock Origin

uBlock Origin Chrome Extension

uBlock Origin main features & specifications summary

  • Rating: 5/5
  • Browser compatibility: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi, Opera
  • Pricing: Free (open source)
  • Features: ad-blocking, prevents trackers, loads pages faster, script blocking

uBlock Origin Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Works out of the box
  • Has pre-defined ad filter lists
  • Custom filters
  • Blocks ads in YouTube
  • Prevents malicious scripts
  • Open source

Cons

  • Might prevent some websites from working correctly
  • Advanced options may require some learning

uBlock Origin is the first extension you should to install in any browser. It is the best ad-blocker extension for Chrome and Firefox by a long mile, and removes ads and improves the load times of web pages. The add-on comes with some filter lists enabled for your conveniece, this makes it work without requiring any set up whatsoever. There are several optional filter lists that you may subscribe to, if you want to block additional content. Disabling the extension for a specific site takes 2-clicks, which can be useful if you’re having any issues with the way the page loads.

Are you tired of ads popping up when you want to watch a video? uBlock Origin blocks ads in YouTube videos, so you can binge watch your favorite content without distractions. I’d recommend using SponsorBlock as a companion extension to further eliminate ads in videos.

uBlock Origin is also a content blocker, it allows you to block specific elements on a web page such as banners, side bars, etc,.While it can be used on an install-and-forget basis, there are a slew of advanced options that you can tweak. The open source extension can also be used to block Javascript, which in turn can stop malicious scripts before they can affect your browser. Thanks to the ad-free experience, not only is reading articles is a joy, but also safe. Don’t browse the internet without it.

Read our in-depth review of uBlock Origin for more details.

Download the uBlock Origin Chrome extension here.

HTTPS Everywhere

HTTPS Everywhere Chrome Extension

HTTPS Everywhere main features & specifications summary

  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Browser compatibility: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi, Opera
  • Pricing: Free (open source)
  • Features: Loads HTTPS versions of web pages.

HTTPS Everywhere Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Redirects HTTP links to load the secure versions of web pages
  • No configuration required

Cons

  • Occasionally slows down web pages.

Most websites have switched to the HTTPS protocol over the years, not just because it is safer, but also since Google made it a mandatory rule for websites, if they want to be featured in its search results. You may come across HTTP versions of websites every once in a while, because not every domain has upgraded to the secure server type. Occasionally, you might stumble on to websites that support HTTPS, but also contains HTTP versions.

E.g. http://www.example.com and https://www.example.com

To the average user, it may not make much difference. The HTTP version of a site does not use any encryption, and hence are not secure. Such sites pose a risk to potentially redirect you to a harmful site, if it has been hacked by a middle-man or was the victim of a malvertising campaign (malware injected in ads). On the other hand, the HTTPS version of the site, thanks to its encrypted connection, is not prone to such security issues, and is safer to use. That’s great, but Chrome on its own cannot check this on its own  i.e., when a link takes you to a web page, the browser will load it without checking if it’s HTTP or HTTPS, because it can’t tell the difference, so chances are you could land on the insecure page.

This is why you need the HTTPS Everywhere extension. The add-on, developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Tor Project, tells your browser to load the page using the secure protocol, i.e. forces the HTTPS version if the website in question has one. I recommend toggling the following option: “Encrypt All Sites Eligible”, which prevents unencrypted requests from loading, and displays a warning banner when you try to access the page.

Did you know that Firefox has a built-in feature that loads only HTTPS web pages?

Take a look at our HTTPS Everywhere review.

Download the HTTPS Everywhere Chrome extension here.

ClearURLs

ClearURLs Chrome Extension

ClearURLs main features & specifications summary

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Browser compatibility: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi, Opera
  • Pricing: Free (open source)
  • Features:  Removes tracking elements from links

ClearURLs Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Prevents websites from following your activity using trackable, affiliate URLs
  • Has a built-in URL Cleaner for manual usage

Cons

  • Doesn’t always clean links from all websites, in this case you’ll need to use the built-in cleaning tool manually

When you browse the web, you will come across URLs that are very long. This is very commonly seen in search engine results, online shopping sites, and social networks. Try mousing over a search result, and you’ll see what I mean. The links are a mix of alphanumerical content, symbols, etc., which makes no sense to the users. But these can be used for tracking your browsing activity, e.g. to learn which website you were on before you clicked a link to land on the current web page.

URLs which are trackable are often used for affiliate marketing and analytical purposes, and this is not good for your privacy. But manually deleting this unwanted content from links is not an easy task.

ClearURLs is a browser extension that can help reclaim your privacy, by automatically removing the tracking elements from links. It also comes with a built-in URL cleaning tool, that you can use to paste links in, and the add-on will trim the URL and give you the normal link.

You can learn more about the ClearURLs extension by reading our previous coverage.

Download the ClearURLs Chrome extension here.

Cookie AutoDelete

Cookie AutoDelete Chrome Extension

Cookie Auto Delete main features & specifications summary

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Browser compatibility: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi, Opera
  • Pricing: Free (open source)
  • Features:  Removes tracking elements from links

Cookie Auto Delete Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Prevents websites from tracking you

Cons

  • Doesn’t always clean every affiliate element

How many websites do you visit in a day? Dozens, hundreds? As we continue browsing regularly, the browser accumulates bits and pieces of data related to each website, in the form of cookies. These digital files contain your account information, preferences, search history, etc, related to each site. If you log into your email service, and enable the stay signed in option, the next time you visit the site it will log you in automatically, because its cookie has the information saved in it.

Cookies are useful, but they also pose a privacy risk. You may not be aware of this, but cookies can be used to track you, for several days or even weeks.  You may see a prompt or a banner that requires your consent to store cookies. This was made mandatory by the GDPR Law passed by the EU, to help protect the privacy of users.

It is advisable to delete the cookies and browser data regularly, not just because they are using up your storage space, but also for your own security. Browsers like Chrome and Firefox have an easy way to delete all cookies in one go, but sometimes you may not want to sign out of specific websites. The other option is to delete all other cookies manually, which can quickly become a chore. The Cookie AutoDelete extension makes this task simpler, by deleting cookies automatically, while whitelisting the sites that you’d like to stay signed in to.

Our Cookie AutoDelete review has additional details that might interest you.

Download the Cookie AutoDelete Chrome extension here.

Skip Redirect

Skip Redirect Chrome Extension

Skip Redirect main features & specifications summary

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Browser compatibility: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi, Opera
  • Pricing: Free (open source)
  • Features:  Removes tracking elements from links

Skip Redirect Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Helps avoid middle-man websites, and takes you to the proper landing page

Cons

  • Sometimes, it doesn’t work if a URL has multiple parameters.

We explained about how ads, tracking elements in URLs, and cookies are used to track your footsteps around the internet. There is another way websites can discover your activity.

Let’s say you wanted to download something, and clicked a link to go to the page and it takes you through a totally different site, even it is for a split-second or two, you essentially give that third-party site some data to use.

You can avoid this by using the Skip Redirect extension. When you try to open a web page using a URL that includes an intermediary, the add-on skips the third-party site, and takes you directly to the page that you wanted to go to. It displays a notification to alert you that a page has been redirected.

Skip Redirect not only saves you time, but also helps you stay safe by skipping middle-man sites that you may not be familiar with.

Download the Skip Redirect Chrome extension here.

LocalCDN

LocalCDN Chrome Extension

Local CDN main features & specifications summary

  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Browser compatibility: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi, Opera
  • Pricing: Free (open source)
  • Features:  Pages load faster, enhances your privacy

Local CDN Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Open Source
  • Pre-configured
  • Speeds up page loading times
  • Improves privacy

Cons

  • Some features are only supported in the Firefox add-on (HTML Filter, Font A
  • The Chrome extension is a few versions behind the Firefox add-on

The extension’s name stands for Local Content Delivery Networks, it comes with a bunch of frameworks and libraries that are used for loading pages.

When your browser loads a web page it sends requests to the server to fetch the content required to render the content. LocalCDN intercepts the request and loads the resources from its libraries, thus improving the speed at which the page loads. Using the local content is also good for your privacy, because the requests are not sent to the original server.

LocalCDN is a fork of the Decentraleyes extension.

Download the LocalCDN Chrome extension here.

DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials

DuckDuckGO Privacy Essentials Chrome ExtensionDuckDuckGO Privacy Essentials Chrome Extension

DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials main features & specifications summary

  • Rating: 4.3/5
  • Browser compatibility: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi, Opera
  • Pricing: Free (open source)
  • Features:  Privacy friendly,

DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Open Source
  • Privacy-first
  • Forces encryption whenever possible
  • Blocks Trackers

Cons

  • DuckDuckGo’s search results are quite poor

This Chrome extension switches your default search engine to the privacy friendly service, DuckDuckGo. While the search results aren’t as good as Google’s, you have useful shorcuts in the form of DuckDuckGo Bangs!. The add-on also improves your online privacy by blocking trackers on the web, and forces websites to use encryption whenever possible, aka HTTPS only. The extension’s interface indicates when trackers are blocked, and also lists them for your scrutiny.

In addition to this, DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials supports Global Privacy Control (GPC), to tell websites that you don’t want to share your personal data with them, and they are not allowed to sell the data, thanks to laws such as GDPR, CCPA, etc.

Learn how the add-on works by reading our DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials review.

Download the DuckDuckGo Chrome extension here.

Bitwarden

Bitwarden Chrome Extension

Bitwarden main features & specifications summary

  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Browser compatibility: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi, Opera
  • Pricing: Free (open source)
  • Features:  Removes tracking elements from links

Bitwarden Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Open Source
  • User-friendly
  • Generates Secure Passwords
  • Autofill logins on password forms
  • Cross platform apps – Chrome, Firefox, Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS

Cons

  • Requires registration
  • Passwords are stored on a server
  • Limited offline usage

Our day-to-day internet usage involves using various services like banking, work, email, social media, video and music streaming, games, etc. These accounts represent your online identity, and are invaluable to you, but remembering the password for each and every one of these can be a challenge. This is why a lot of people rely on password managers, as they are easy to use, and also help protect your accounts by generating secure passwords that can’t be guessed or commonly used.

The Bitwarden browser extension is an excellent way of managing your passwords right from Chrome and Firefox. Install the add-on, sign up a for free account, and use the online vault to store your logins. Thanks to the built-in autofill option in the extension, you don’t have to type or copy and paste your login information from the vault, the add-on handles that for you.

Bitwarden has an official application for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS, making it a cross-platform password manager. The password database is synchronized online through a cloud server, allowing you to access it regardless of the device that you use.

If you want a truly offline password manager, take a look at KeePass Password Safe.

Check our Bitwarden review to see what features the password manager has to offer.

Download the Bitwarden Chrome extension here.

Frequently asked questions about best Chrome Security Extensions

Do I need to install every extension listed here to stay secure?

The Chrome Security add-ons that we recommend offer various features, and often complement one another. You’ll need to decide which ones meet your requirements, and install those.

My antivirus provider has a Chrome extension, is it worth using the add-on?

The uBlock Origin extension, combined with your desktop antivirus, such as Windows Defender or Kaspersky, etc, should provide all the protection you need for offline and online security.

Avast Online Security was found to leak the private data of users, for which it drew flak from users, developers, and eventually Mozilla and Chrome. Though the extension has since been updated, and is relatively safer to use, I don’t think antivirus add-ons are worth using unless you are absolutely clueless about online security.

 Bottom line/conclusion

If I had to choose only one plugin from this list, I would pick uBlock Origin because of how it helps protect your privacy by blocking ads and trackers, keeps you secure, and lightens the load on the system performance. You don’t need to use antivirus extensions for Chrome, because Google Safe Browsing can keep you safe.

All of these Chrome security extensions are also available for Firefox. Don’t use add-ons that are similar to another, e.g. Having multiple adblockers is a bad idea, as they could end up conflicting with each other, and cause unnecessary headaches. e.g. You don’t need Privacy Badger or AdGuard, when you have uBlock Origin installed.

Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post 8 Chrome security extensions that can help protect your privacy appeared first on gHacks Technology News.



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