My top Chrome extensions to help protect your privacy

Desktop top browser share trend
Desktop top browser share trend

With Chrome being the browser of choice for many people, next to old school Internet Explorer that is, it is easy to pick from a vast marketplace of extensions (plug-ins). The conundrum is, which one to choose — to protect my privacy for example? Here are my top extensions to do just that in no particular order. Your mileage may vary and I am neither paid nor otherwise affiliated with any of the providers of the Chrome extensions listed.

Ad and tracker blocking: ublock Origin

Beware of the other extension with the same name, sans the origin bit. Long story short: you want the Origin version. It is more than just an ad-blocker as it helps stop other trackers and privacy abusing things. It’s easy to install (no config needed) and to unblock sites you are experiencing issues with.

Runner-up: Privacy Badger

Passwords: Lastpass

Lastpass is a free password safe that makes it easy to keep unique, secure passwords for your websites as well as encrypted plain text notes. It works well on mobile also.

Runner-up: 1Password (requires main app to be installed unlike Lastpass)

Email encryption: Virtru

Sending email securely is hard and Virtru makes it a doddle to do it well. It works with GMail and other services and has a handy Chrome extension. Virtru is free and they cannot see the contents of your secured messages (technically there is no way). You can send emails that expire and also add an unencrypted message along with the encrypted bit. Unlike other mechanisms, recipients of your messages do not need Virtru or any software — a modern web browser suffices.

Runner-up: GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) tools (requires understanding of keys and recipients to have it all set-up their end too). Apps: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android

Tracking and malware defence: Bitdefender Traffic Light

While this alone can only go so far, it’s better than not having it. Together with uBlock Origin and HTTPS Everywhere, you have a good defence and alerting system to protect your privacy and against malware somewhat. Still, you probably want to invest into a good anti-virus and malware software, rather than just leaving it to your browser alone.

Note: If you are using Web of Trust, please consider that we now know they are selling user data. Similar to Ad Block, you may want to reconsider your options.

Anti-Snooping: HTTPS Everywhere

Browsing websites via HTTPS (SSL encryption) means only the website you visit and your browser know where and what you are looking at. If the website is in the UK, this means that data can get shared with state agencies and is stored for 12 months. Hence the need for VPNs and proxies if you value your privacy.

Search engine: DuckDuckGo

Unlike Google and Bing, DuckDuckGo (DDG or simply Duck) does not track you. You can set it as the default search engine or install the extension and use it in parallel.

Proxy switcher: SwitchyOmega

If you prefer to use proxies or cannot use a VPN, this little tool may come in very handy. You can also set rules easily for specific sites and conditions.

Epilogue

What are your favourite extensions that help you keep your privacy protected online?

Also, be sure to read the companion post on ‘How to stay safe online’ and follow the topic/tweetstorm on Twitter.

(Post originally appeared on medium.com)

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