Surfing the Internet can be risky these days with malware, spyware, and browser-based trackers all trying to invade your privacy and security.
Chrome users can fight back using the right extensions. You’ll find a variety of add-ons designed to ward off malicious code, protect your online privacy, and block intrusive ads. Let’s take a look at some of the best ones and see how they can improve your Google Chrome experience.
How to Add Chrome Extensions
Google Chrome extensions are hosted in the Chrome Web Store(Opens in a new window), where you can add them directly to your browser. Any extensions you add can be controlled from the top right corner of Chrome, giving you easy access to their settings.
If an extension does not appear at the top of Chrome, click the Extensions icon (the one that looks like a puzzle piece). You can then select the pin for the specific extension, and it will now appear in the browser.
Display ads help pay the bills for many websites, but those that appear unexpectedly in your browser can be annoying and intrusive. The goal behind AdBlock Plus(Opens in a new window) is to stop ads that disrupt your web browsing, including pop-ups, video ads, and flashing banner ads.
After installing AdBlock Plus, you should be able to surf the web without the same kinds of intrusive ads that bothered you in the past. If you click on the AdBlock Plus icon in your browser toolbar, you will see how many items have been blocked on the current site and how many on all sites.
From this window, you can also disable ad blocking for a specific site. If AdBlock Plus missed an item that you consider an ad, click the block element then select the page element you want to block. By default, AdBlock Plus allows acceptable ads, which are those deemed less intrusive but necessary for websites to continue providing free content. You can disable this option if you don’t want to see any ads at all.
To configure the extension, right click on the AdBlock Plus toolbar icon and select Choice. You can then block specific types of tracking, whitelist websites, and include or remove filter lists to determine what types of sites and ads are blocked.
Malwarebytes Browser Protection
To protect your security and privacy, Malwarebytes Browser Guard(Opens in a new window) tries to block ads and trackers, malware, fraudulent sites and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). After installation, the extension will automatically try to prevent any malicious or unwanted content and activity from impacting your browser.
You can check a particular website if you select the Malwarebytes icon and then click on the let’s go button. The extension will report how many, if any, unwanted content it has blocked on the current site with details of what was blocked.
If you trust the site and do not want a certain type of content blocked, hover over the content and click the checkmark to Trust this site. Click on Statistics to see how much content was blocked today, last week, last two weeks, or last month.
From the Malwarebytes window, you can also disable blocking of any type of content, such as ads and trackers or PUPs. To further configure the extension, click the Settings icon in the window. Here you can enable or disable all protection settings, block suspicious domains and protect your credit card information from digital skimming or theft on payment pages.
Trend Micro Verification
Trend Micro Verification(Opens in a new window) scans every website you visit for different types of suspicious or harmful content. It will block unwanted and annoying ads, warn you if you are browsing a scam or fraudulent site, and display a warning if you load a phishing or malicious site that can steal your password or personal information. It can even protect you from fake news by checking the trustworthiness of a specific site’s content against other sources.
After installing the extension, you will be prompted to configure it by choosing which websites will trigger a warning, including those that contain pornography, gambling, pirated content, and fake news. Trend Micro will also notify you of any ads and trackers that have been blocked, allow you to clear your browsing history, and view any related news.
If you go to a website that looks suspicious or malicious, click the Trend Micro icon in the browser. The extension will tell you if the site is safe or unsafe. If the site raises a red flag, an alert appears immediately with a button you can click to quickly exit the site.
Duck Duck Go Privacy Essentials
The people behind the privacy-conscious search engine DuckDuckGo also offer Duck Duck Go Privacy Essentials(Opens in a new window). This Chrome extension aims to block third-party cookies and hidden trackers, prevents sites from fingerprinting you for specific details about your browser and system, forces all sites to use HTTPS encryption, and sets your search engine to default on DuckDuckGo.(Opens in a new window).
Navigate to a particular site after installing the extension, then click on its icon. The drop-down window tells you if the site uses encryption, flags any blocked tracking requests, and assigns a privacy rating to the site. Select one of the indicators to view more details.
Websites, advertisers, and other third-party companies track your online activities, but finding out who is tracking you and where they are coming from is a challenge. Disconnect(Opens in a new window) shows you specific web tracker names for each site you visit and lets you block them from spying on you.
To block web trackers, the basic version of Disconnect is free, although the company asks you to donate an amount of your choice to maintain the program. For $50 a year, a Premium Edition(Opens in a new window) launches a VPN and a panel that shows you the sites you’ve blocked.
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You can now go to a website like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon or even Google and click on the Disconnect toolbar icon. The extension displays the types of tracking requests received for each site: advertising, analytics, social media, and content.
Click on a specific type of request to see the names of the actual trackers. Block individual trackers by deselecting them or completely disable this type of tracking for this site. You can whitelist a website to unblock all tracking and view a visual graph of the site to see all tracking, blocked and unblocked connections.
Many extensions that block web trackers rely on specific filters to prevent content. Others require you to manually decide whether to allow or block each site. privacy badger(Opens in a new window) tries to save you from all that work by learning which sites are trying to track you and then blocking that content.
This process works by sending a Do Not Track signal to these websites. By itself, this request won’t accomplish much since websites usually ignore them. However, if the request is ignored, Privacy Badger learns to block tracking items. The extension also starts blocking if it sees the same tracker on three different sites.
Open a particular site and click on the Privacy Badger toolbar icon. You can see which trackers have been blocked and edit or disable blocking for that site if you wish.
Click and clean
Chrome lets you delete cookies, clear browsing cache, and avoid tracking via incognito mode, but Click&Clean(Opens in a new window) offers all of these capabilities and more through an easily accessible panel. Additionally, this add-on gives you the ability to quickly clear your browsing data (manually or when you close Chrome), delete cached pages, run a privacy check, and scan for malware.
Once installed, click on the toolbar icon to display the panel of all available features and commands. The main section offers options to close the browser safely, clear private data, view cache, view and delete your history, switch to private browsing, and manage your cookies. Selecting a specific option then displays the associated data so you can view and delete it.
You can further customize the extension if you right click on the Click&Clean toolbar icon and select Choice. From there, you can decide which items you want to delete each time you clear your data: browsing history, cache, saved passwords, download history, cookies, form data, etc. You can either select each item separately or choose an overall level of protection ranging from low to high.
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