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:
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.