With the rise of the cloud and web-based business apps, it has become even more crucial to have your browser as secure as possible. Not all browsers are created equal. Some do a much better job at securing your connectivity and data than others. The browsers you more actively trust are those that allow the addition of extensions (or add-ons) to help enhance the security of your time online.
But of the myriad of add-ons, which ones are the "must-haves" among the crowd? I have tracked down the five top add-ons that I feel are most necessary for a safe web-centric experience. Try these different extensions on for size and see if they don't make your browser secure enough to meet your business needs.
1. NoScript Security Suite
Webutation (Firefox, Chrome) is one of the quickest ways to find out how safe a web site is. The Webutation site is an open source resource where a community of users helps to collect data on web-sites to develop a reputation profile. From that, the browser add-on quickly pops up a score (from 0-100, 100 being the best) that helps you to gauge how safe a web site is. Webutation doesn't just depend upon user feedback; they also collect information from Google Safebrowsing, Norton Antivirus, phishing and malware blacklists, Web of Trust, and much more. The querying that goes on in the background happens in real time, so you can trust the feedback to be timely and accurate.
3. Secure Sanitizer
Secure Sanitizer (Firefox) is for those users who tend to be a bit paranoid about their browser cache. If you fall into that category, you need to add this extension onto your browser right away. Secure Sanitizer implements three different approaches to clearing the web browser cache: File system simple deletion, random data overwriting, and the three steps "US DoD 5220" method. Once installed, you can initiate sanitation of your cache by using the standard Clear Private Data dialog box, or using a shortcut button in the navigation bar. Either way, you will end up with a much more securely cleared browser cache. The one caveat to this add-on is that it doesn't clean HTML5 data. For that, you should use the additional Foundstone HTML5 Local Storage Explorer which will allow you to delete HTML5 data stored on your machine.
WOT (Chrome) is the one extension you should add to Chrome, if you only add one. With this add on you will see three different icons in your search results: Green for safe, Amber for questionable, and red to avoid at all costs. The results also show up in an icon next to the address bar – so even bookmarks will get ranked. With this extension, you can also choose to automatically block suspicious content. The extension does require that you sign into an account. If you'd rather not use an extension that requires the creation of an account, you can always use the WOT Safe Search Chrome App (which is really nothing more than a quick link to the WOT Safe Search page.
Disconnect (Firefox, Chrome, IE, Safari) is a very powerful way to prevent tracking cookies. This handy extension allows you to see, in real time, tracking requests sent by web sites; as those request come in, you can select to allow them or not. You can disable social tracking, content tracking, and completely depersonalize your search by blocking identifying cookies. When you install Disconnect you sign up for an account and then pay what you want. Obviously you can pay nothing (though that is frowned upon – literally) and still get the full effect of the software. This particular add on, however, is well worth dropping a few dollars on – especially for the overly-paranoid.
Everyone's idea of security is different. There are those that go through their web-life blind to the ramifications of browsing insecurely; and there are those that fully understand what is going on underneath the hood. If you fall into the latter category, take a look at one (or all) of these extensions and see if they don't make you feel better about staying on the grid.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.