Google Chrome is my browser of choice. Its lightning fast
rendering engine, incredible extension system, and cross-platform nature make
it a winner. But is it secure? Unfortunately, in today’s world of too much
information and too many nefarious users sniffing about, adding security to any
browser is a must.
But which extensions are essential for security? If you type security
in the Extension search bar, you’ll wind up with an endless array of possibilities. I’ve narrowed the list to five. With these extensions, you can
be sure your Chrome browsing experience is much, much safer. Each of these
extensions can be found in the Chrome Web Store and are a single click away
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery.
LastPass (Figure A) is a password vault, form
filler, and much more. You’ll find two LastPass extensions — the full-blown
extension and the LastPass Vault. The LastPass Vault extension is really just a
link for your LastPass account. To get the full value of LastPass, install the
full version. You’ll need to walk through a few more steps than the standard
extension installation, but it’s worth it.
From within the Vault, you can add sites, create groups, and
create Form Filler profiles. If you depend upon a large number of passwords and
need a single secure location to keep them safe, LastPass is a great start.
This extension is free. The Premium edition ($12.00 USD/year) lets you manage
joint accounts and gives you shared family folders.
2: Adblock Plus
Adblock Plus (Figure B) doesn’t just block
pesky advertisements (including video ads) — it helps protect your privacy
across the web, blocks sections you want to hide (such as comments), and blocks
Of course, online advertising is not always a bad thing, and
blocking every ad presented to you runs counter to the sites you view. (Remember:
Those sites need to make money to keep the lights on.) With Adblock Plus, you
can create your own filters, add whitelisted domains, and more. The Adblock
filters do have their own language rules to follow, but you’ll find plenty of
information on writing filters here. AdBlock plus is free.
Disconnect (Figure C) does one thing and does
it well — it blocks third-party tracking cookies. Once installed, this handy
extension has an easy access popup menu that will show you everything it has
An extra benefit of using Disconnect is that it will save
you time, resources, and bandwidth. From the listing of blocked tracking
cookies, you can get quick access to the sites that attempted to track you. If
you find one that is trustworthy, you can easily unblock the site by unchecking
its entry from the popup.
4: HTTPS Everywhere
HTTPS Everywhere (Figure D) will ensure that
you always go to a secure site (if available). Without a doubt, this is easiest
way to secure your Chrome experience. With HTTPS Everywhere, you don’t even
have to bother with choosing between http or https — it does it for you.
After you install it, just type in a URL and HTTPS
Everywhere will check to see whether the domain has a secure site. If it does,
it will automatically direct you to the https version. Otherwise, you’ll go to
the standard site. Once you’ve visited a site, you can click the HTTPS
Everywhere icon (to the right of the address bar) and choose the site to
de-list it from being directed.
5: Web of Trust
Web Of Trust (Figure E) offers one of the
easiest ways to determine whether you can trust a web site. When you visit a
site, you’ll see a small icon that displays green for good, yellow for unsure,
and red for unsafe. You’ll want to sign up for an account (it’s free) so you
can set your warning notifications (Normal, Light, Off) and enable/disable
reputation icons next to links. Say, for example, you do a search on Google.
When the results appear, you’ll see a WOT icon to the right of the link that
indicates whether it’s safe or not.
If you’re looking to make your Chrome browsing experience as
secure as possible — run, don’t walk, to these five extensions and install
them. With this combination of tools, you can rest assured that your browsing will be
far safer than with most any other extensions installed.
Other security measures?
Do you have a favorite extension you rely on for Chrome security? Share you recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.