Boost Chrome browser security with these five add-ons

From password protection to cookie tracking to identifying secure sites, these extensions will help you safeguard your Chrome browser.

 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 from installation.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery.

1: LastPass

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.

Figure A

Figure A

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 malware.

Figure B 

Figure B
 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.

3: Disconnect

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 blocked.

Figure C

Figure C
 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.

Figure D

Figure D

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.

Figure E

Figure E

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.



By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....