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You can never be too careful
It seems every time you hit F5 there’s a new story about a massive corporate hack, a new ransomware outbreak, or the spread of dangerous new malware.
Unfortunately, you don’t need to do much to compromise your security–even browsing sites deemed safe can lead to an infection from a compromised banner ad. If you feel like there’s nothing you can do to stay safe you aren’t alone, but you don’t need to give up.
These 10 browser extensions can help add more than just peace of mind; they can step in where the average web browser fails and protect you from common threats.
A Firefox exclusive, Noscript does exactly what its name implies: It stops scripts. Configuring it after initial installation can be a bit cumbersome since it blocks most everything by default, but once it’s up and running your browser is super safe.
We’ve all been on a website that pops up a window that completely greys out the screen, and it isn’t always easy to find the button to kill it. Only the most trusting among us would want to click around looking for a way to get rid of a popup like that–the wrong click could be an invitation to infection.
BehindTheOverlay is a one-button kill for any and all overlays and browser screen-seizing popups. Just tap the little curtain button and you go straight back to the website you intended to visit.
HTTPS Everywhere, which was created by the Electronic Freedom Foundation in partnership with the TOR project, forces any website capable of HTTPS to use it. Securing web traffic with HTTPS is pretty much a non-option anymore, but plenty of websites have yet to make it their default behavior, which is why HTTPS Everywhere is important.
Securing your browsing isn’t an end-all-be-all security solution, but it’s an essential step in the right direction.
uBlock Origin, available for Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Opera, blocks more than just ads or scripts: It stops pretty much anything you tell it to. It can be loaded with lists for blocking domains, trackers, cookies, images–you name it.
Like other addons that stop certain web functionality from working, uBlock Origin can take some tweaking to get right. Don’t let that stop you, though: It’s formidable if you take the time to get it configured to suit you.
Sometimes ads aren’t a big deal: They help content creators make money, which is a good thing. Where ads become a problem is when they serve up links to bad sites or contain scripts that infect your computer.
Adblock Plus will stop those nefarious ads–and the not-so-nefarious ones–from getting through to your computer. You can choose to whitelist some sites, which is definitely a good thing to do if you want to support your favorites.
In many cases shortened links are harmless–they’re just a way to save characters on Twitter or lessen the clutter in an email. Sometimes they’re used to hide a known bad site, and the shortening service can prevent your browser from realizing where you’re headed until it’s too late.
Unshorten.link provides a very necessary service: It takes shortened links, like those from bit.ly and t.co, and expands them to their full size. Anytime you click on a shortened link you’re redirected from the target to Unshorten’s page where the full domain gives you a hint at where you’re headed. It also lets you know if the link is to a domain known to be unsafe.
If you’re a Chrome user this is definitely one to check out.
Using a web browser, even in incognito mode, leaves a digital paper trail behind you that could contain a lot of personal information. Click&Clean gets rid of that data with just a single click.
Options range from deleting cookies to deleting all browsing data, and even scanning your browser to assess how secure it is. It’s a good idea to give it a shot, which you can do in Chrome and Firefox.
Most everyone concerned with internet privacy knows what a VPN is. And they also probably know what a hassle it is to find a reliable one that doesn’t cost money.
Hotspot Shield does provide free basic VPN service, allowing you to reroute your traffic to avoid being tracked, and its Chrome and Firefox extensions are as easy to use as flipping a toggle. You can also opt for a separate Hotspot Shield app if that’s your preference.