It’s no secret that the internet can be a dangerous place. Even savvy users can accidentally mistype a URL for a common website and land on a malicious site instead. Of course, internet malware isn’t the only concern. Many perfectly legitimate sites go to great lengths to track your behavior.
This article discusses five apps that are designed to help improve browser security. I’ve focused primarily on Internet Explorer (with one exception), but similar apps are available for other browsers.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
1: IObit Uninstaller
IObit Uninstaller (Figure A) is a free uninstaller for Windows. Obviously, uninstallers are nothing new. There are a billion third-party uninstallers available, and Windows has its own built-in uninstaller.
I chose to include IObit Uninstaller here because it doesn’t focus squarely on applications as some uninstallers do. The program has an entire tab dedicated to browser toolbars and plug-ins. In the case of Internet Explorer, the software can also remove ActiveX controls. One of the things I really like about this particular uninstaller is that it supports batch removal so you don’t have to remove one component at a time.
2: Adblock Plus for Internet Explorer
Adblock Plus for Internet Explorer (Figure B) might not be what you would think of as a browser security app. After all, its job is to block annoying ads on websites. So what does this have to do with security? It has become increasingly common for dubious websites to run ads that if clicked, take you to malicious sites.
Figure B (04)
I have tried out a number of ad blockers in the past, with mixed results. This one works surprisingly well. No ad blocker is perfect. But in my tests, Adblock eliminated the vast majority of web ads and did so without distorting the web page in the process.
Adblock Plus is also available for other popular browsers such as Firefox and Chrome.
3: History Sweeper
History Sweeper (Figure C) is designed to protect your privacy by helping you to cover your digital tracks. Although most browsers have a “clear history” function, History Sweeper makes history removal a lot easier.
The program has separate tabs for Windows, internet, and applications, and can remove a variety of history items from each. In the case of the browser, History Sweeper goes above and beyond clearing cookies and the browser cache. It has built-in support for removing history from everything from the Google Bar to MSN and AOL. Firefox and Chrome are also supported.
History Sweeper sells for $29.95, but a free trial is available for download.
Sandboxie (Figure D) protects your system’s integrity by running the browser in a sandboxed environment. The idea is that by sandboxing your browser, malware can’t access other parts of your system. One of the nice things about Sandboxie is that it’s a “set it and forget it” applications. The application is simple to install and there are no intrusive interfaces to worry about. Just launch the browser through the Sandboxed Web Browser icon and you’re in business.
5: DoNotTrackMe for IE
Internet marketers try to track consumer behavior in an effort to deliver targeted ads, collect demographic data, etc. Although Internet Explorer includes native tracking protection, it doesn’t always go far enough. That’s where DoNotTrackMe for IE (Figure E) comes into play.
DoNotTrackMe intercepts and blocks attempts at tracking your online behavior. The software is simple to deploy and you don’t have to do anything special to use it once it’s been installed. And DoNotTrackMe alerts you when it has blocked trackers, so it’s easy to tell that the software is working.
DoNotTrackMe is also available for other popular browsers, including Safari, Firefox, and Chrome.
What other tools do you use to make your browsing safer? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.