We usually concentrate on VPN services and related service providers for online anonymity, privacy and security. But we do understand that there are a specific group of internet users who would like a bit of information on the different browser extensions available for all the popular internet browsers that will help cover their online tracks.
In reality, we would like to stress the point that browser extensions can help reduce unwanted ads and can prevent a few instances of intrusion into individual privacy, but cannot offer the kind of security and peace of mind as regular VPN services.
With that cleared out of the way, we will now concentrate on the best browser extensions that can help you enhance your online privacy. While it might be difficult to get a single browser extension that can take care of a lot of stuff for you, you should try to diversify your browser extensions portfolio to group together a set of different browser extensions that will do different jobs of guaranteeing your online privacy.
You are bound to be spoilt for choice with all the browser extensions available in the market right now. To make the choice easier, we will concentrate on two main aspects of online privacy; cookies and ads. Cookies install themselves on to your computer to track your online behavior, while ads will install trackers to track your online behavior. Here are a few browser extensions that can help you stay anonymous online.
Best Browser Extensions For Cookies & Tracking Scripts
Cookies and tracking scripts are indeed a major part of browsing the web. You can’t get away from them, and there isn’t any possible way that you can turn them off. Cookies and tracking scripts are employed by websites to track the actions of their visitors and to identify their personal information.
To help internet users protect their privacy, lots of different companies and app developers have come up with different browser extension to stop cookies and scripts from tracking the ‘real’ user information. We have to stress on the word ‘real’, since, cookies and trackers will be prominent, therefore, it is only possible for browser extensions to reroute the traffic and hide the real user under a cloak or use a temporary storage cache for avoiding any long term effects.
We have come up with three browser extensions that will work on all the major internet browsers, namely, Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer:
DoNotTrackMe is a browser extension toolbar that prevents cookies and tracking scripts from tracking your web activities. There are lots of functionalities and features available to choose from right out of the toolbar, and this browser extension allows you to specifically block and unblock any type of cookies, trackers or plug-ins selectively.
With a vast database of known cookies and tracking scripts, Ghostery can help you block unwanted scripts from attaching itself onto your device. Ghostery browser extension comes with a toolbar and it shows precisely how many cookies, trackers and scripts have been blocked, giving you a fair idea of how your data may be misused while browsing the web unprotected. You also have the flexibility of choosing or selecting which of the cookies or scripts or plug-ins that you want to block or unblock.
DisconnectMe is one of the most advanced and up-to-date browser extensions that add new and varied advanced features periodically. Similar to the above mentioned browser extensions, DisconnectMe also offers the user the option of choosing what they can block and unblock selectively. Apart from these features, DisconnectMe also allows bandwidth optimization, which helps websites to load faster and consume fewer system resources.
DisconnectMe also helps you to prevent any unauthorized cookie theft and prevents other websites, such as Google and Facebook from gaining any sort of off-site browsing information. The only downside is that you have to make a small financial contribution to gain access, but you are entitled to continued access to the exhaustive database and can enjoy unlimited updates.
Best Browser Extensions For Blocking Ads
Ads are extremely annoying, time consuming and most times, a serious hindrance to a good browsing experience. There are numerous good quality websites that offer great content, but they are often ignored due to their ad placements. How many times have we seen great websites display advertisements in the most inconvenient of places?
Apart from the visual annoyances of ads, most advertising networks also employ trackers and scripts to gain valuable user information. These trackers will work similar to a cookie or tracking script, and will do more than just record user metrics. These trackers will employ techniques to understand a user’s online behavior and will try to glean personal data from unsuspecting users.
There are different types of ads delivered to online users. There are simple textual ads; there are graphic/image ads, video ads, and the most annoying of them all: pop-ups and pop-under ads. Using ad blockers will help you to circumvent these ads and concentrate on the content.
However, be careful of what you block. Blocking ads or blocking scripts will often render the website incomplete, and it won’t load properly. Some websites even fail to load completely if it detects the presence of any ad blocker web extension.
Therefore, you have to choose a browser extension that doesn’t hinder your browsing experience, but blocks ads and trackers from insecure sources. We have chosen a couple of browser extensions that works brilliantly:
AdBlock Plus is the most popular ad blocking browser extension that millions of online users employ to remove malicious ads, cookies, trackers and plug-ins. AdBlock Plus helps you to block ads, block pop-ups or pop-under ads and is quite easy for the user when it comes to choosing what to block and what not to. AdBlock Plus can be a lethal arsenal for the online privacy conscious individual.
This is something that users employ to prevent any flash elements from loading without proper permissions. This is a great tool to prevent any sort of videos from opening without your permission. Most video ads and resources centric and can put a strain on your bandwidth and system resources. Website loading times may suffer, therefore, FlashBlock can help you from unwanted flash ads. (Chrome & Firefox)
This is actually a browser extension that shows no remorse in blocking any and all scripts that runs on a website. Therefore, this browser extension should only be used if you know what you are doing. ScriptSafe or NoScript won’t load websites properly, and you will have to constantly tinker with the whitelist or work around the script blocking to open websites, which can be time consuming and overly tedious.
However, this is a great tool to prevent any kind of unsafe scripts and this browser extension won’t run any script without your permission. (Chrome) or NoScript (Firefox)
Conventional Tools For Online Privacy
We can’t stress the point enough, but online security is important, especially for those who value their online privacy more than anything else. For this purpose, browser extensions may prove to be insufficient, and you might require the services of multiple tools.
Virtual Private Network
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is essential for complete online anonymity and security. A VPN allows you to hide behind a virtual IP address, and can help you to properly encrypt your traffic to prevent any prying eyes from tracking your personal information. Nothing can beat the sense of security offered by a VPN.
Anti-Virus & Anti-Malware Programs
Your computer needs to be safe from viruses or malware that can steal sensitive information from your computer. Immaterial of whether you use a VPN or not, an anti-virus program or an anti-malware program can help you keep your computer clean of any malicious programs that will act as a bridge between the hacker and your personal information.
Online Reputation Tools Such As Web Of Trust
The Web Of Trust (WOT) tool is available as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari and Opera, and is just a toolbar that provides information related to the reputation of a website. WOT is an online reputation ranking tool, and keeps track of a websites reputation in terms of online tracking, hosting malicious script, hosting malware or viruses, or just about any malicious attempt at violating a user’s privacy.
It really makes sense to give more priority and trust towards websites that run on a secured layer server and offers HTTPS in their address bar. This signifies that a website is intent on at least considering the priorities of a user’s privacy and security. Don’t trust any website that doesn’t offer an encryption layer, and try to adopt any browser extension or use a VPN while visiting these websites.