Tips: Our Favorite Security Plugins

Those looking to tighten the security of their internet browsing experiences have a lot of choices these days. There is a slew of security and privacy related plug-ins available for most of the popular browsers. Here are some of the more popular and effective ones users should consider:

browser plugin

Adblock Plus, an open-source blocking extension for both Firefox and Chrome does exactly what its name implies: It automatically blocks ads that might be intrusive. Users can add “filter subscriptions” to their Adblock Plus to prevent certain sites from opening ads. These subscriptions can be maintained by users themselves or selected from lists compiled by other users of the software. Adblock Plus’s most popular subscription list, EasyList, is used by eleven million users and blocks most English-language advertising and banner ads. Use Internet Explorer? A variant of EasyList, EasyPrivacy, blocks a series of scripts and bugs on Internet Explorer 9.

Web of Trust, often referred to as WOT, relies on a similar crowdsourcing technique, depending on a collection of users from across the world to rate websites. WOT gauges the safety of sites with colored rings: Red indicates a potentially unsafe site; yellow indicates users should exercise caution; and green indicates a trustworthy site. WOT has been a popular extension and seen over 43 million downloads (across Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera) since its inception in 2007.

A collaboration between the Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, HTTPS Everywhere helps tell websites that users wish to browse their website, if possible, in HTTPS. HTTPS, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, adds an extra layer of security to web transmissions and is critical for those who engage in payment transactions or enter sensitive information (for banking, perhaps) online. HTTPS Everywhere forces both Chrome and Firefox browsers into using HTTPS on sites that have it as an option. A recently added feature of the extension also helps analyze whether websites have flawed, fake or expired digital certificates (and relays this back to the EFF) when it comes to determining the safety of sites.

LastPass is a password manager that can be installed as a plug-in across all of the usual browsers. LastPass features a password generator, allowing for the easy creation of complex alphanumeric passwords. The service then encrypts that data locally with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) before syncing users’ passwords via the cloud. From there, LastPass users can access sites and manage data across multiple computers by using just one password.

NoScript, long one of Firefox’s more popular plug-ins, determines whether certain types of web content, including JavaScript, Java, and Flash should be run – based on what each user deems to be a trusted site. NoScript automatically blocks these kinds of scripts on sites until users mark sites as trustworthy. Users can do this by left-clicking on the NoScript status bar icon in Firefox and choosing whether they want to allow scripts globally, allow all of the page, temporarily allow all the page or by marking it as untrusted. NoScript doesn’t run on non-Mozilla browsers, but there’s a similar extension, called ScriptNo, for Google Chrome.

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Comments

  1. Blaine says:

    I agree with and use all the above except for WOT. I used to use it but too many users have gone from flagging truely unsafe websites to flagging those that don’t match their own political views. That in itself is malicious and is a fraudulent use of what used to be, and if properly policed, could still be a marvelous service.