The internet is full of opportunities but is equally riddled with people that want to take advantage of it. Common practices these days include identity theft, click-baiting, and manipulated data sharing. The culprits might simply be marketing agencies who want to know your preferences, social network websites that are interested in tracking you, or even hackers aiming to steal your information. Whatever the case, you are constantly being monitored and left vulnerable online.
Knowing this, it’s imperative that you take some sort of action to protect yourself. A great way to keep control over the content you access is to utilize browser tools. Doing so will secure your privacy and block others from snooping in on your online activities.
Firefox encryption add-ons are meant to secure your outgoing data from as many people as possible. While they won’t hide you completely, they will definitely help. Unfortunately, there just isn’t a 100% foolproof way of staying safe while you’re connected to the World Wide Web. The only thing to do is find as many safeguards as you can. The good news is that for most internet users, browser add-ons will be enough to avoid any large problems.
In this article, we’ll list various extensions you can install to keep yourself protected online. Please note that most of them are available on Google Chrome, but some are specific to Mozilla Firefox only. The exception is Private Tab, which you’ll only find on Firefox.
1. HTTPS Everywhere
The first step you should take is to install the HTTPS Everywhere extension on Firefox, provided by the partnership between the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the TOR Project. This allows for most of your online browsing to remain encrypted.
HTTPS, or HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure, is the standard protocol to encrypt incoming and outgoing data for any website. Whenever you see a web address that starts with “https://,” you’ll know you’re secured. Lots of popular websites do this automatically these days, but there are still many that don’t enable HTTPS by default. Therefore, it’s best to install this extension so that all websites that support the feature will be opened securely.
2. Private Tab
A browser’s incognito mode, or private browsing option, is quite helpful. With it, you can sign into different accounts simultaneously, or see whether websites are discriminating the prices they offer you. The option also prevents your browser from enabling cookies.
However, it can be a pain to constantly open a new tab whenever you want to enjoy these features. This is when you can refer to Private Tab, a Firefox add-on that allows you to transform any page into a private tab by either right-clicking or using your keyboard. Without having to open a completely new window, you’ll be able to use private or regular tabs simultaneously.
3. Disconnect Search
Google’s been getting a lot of bad press lately, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s the best search engine available. Still, it would be nice if we could avoid handing over our search data to the company every time we use it.
Well, there’s good news concerning this! If you simply install Disconnect Seach, you can block any search engine website from tracking you while you use it. You’ll also be able to configure the settings so that the extension works with your browser search bar and omnibar.
Disconnect Search not only stops information gathering but can also prevent your ISP (Internet Service Provider) from looking in on your search data. As of now, the extension can be used with Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Blekko. However, you will only be able to use the add-on for one search engine at a time.
While this isn’t an extension, we thought it was worth a mention. The Disconnect software is a desktop version of the previous extension and works on a variety of operating systems. The top six features of the app include the choice of VPN location, anonymous search, secured and fast web browsing, encryption, visualized tracking, and coordinated privacy icons. Users’ traffic is tunneled through the software’s encryptions, allowing you to stay completely anonymous.
Disconnect is a favorite among users because it does not collect and sell its users’ data. It does, however, charge a small fee for the premium features. Fortunately, Disconnect offers a trial period as well.
It isn’t exactly a VPN, but it acts the same way. This means, however, that you cannot use a standard VPN simultaneously. Another issue you might come across is the fact that Disconnect is running in the background at all times. Unlike a standard extension, this app is installed as software on your hard drive.
Websites track your online activities to become better marketers, even Facebook and Google. If you want to stop this, however, you can install Blur, made by Abine. Once you have this add-on, you can visit any website without worrying about succumbing to ad trackers. You can even activate “Don’t track my browsing here” to switch the feature on and off at will.
Hiding your true e-mail is another nifty feature offered by Blur. There are many websites that ask for your e-mail address in return for its content these days, and the main reason is to spam your inbox with advertisements. While you can obtain disposable e-mails for this task, Blur can make your life a whole lot easier. When you’re on a website that asks for your e-mail, Blur will offer to mask it. If you choose to do so, the extension will automatically change the e-mail address into a random one, then forward all spam mail to the latter. If, you want to start receiving mail from that website again, you can simply deactivate the option through Blur.
NoScript is a Mozilla-based extension that was created by the Mozilla Security Group. Its objective is to prevent hacking attempts via disabling scripting code (plugins and executable content), which is believed to be essential to cyber attacks. Without this extension, you could subject yourself to cross-site scripting vulnerabilities (XSS), clickjacking, cross-zone DNS rebinding, and router attacks (CSRF hacking).
NoScript is easy-to-handle, has protection from potentially exploitive content, and provides lower bandwidth allocation due to fewer graphics and plugins. However, some might find it a bit annoying to manually change what websites should be trusted.
7. Keylogger Beater
Keyloggers are a type of malware virus that can run quietly in the background of your computer. Its purpose is to trace every keystroke, so that whoever wrote the virus will be able to obtain your information, such as passwords and account names. Considering how dangerous this virus can be, it’s important to find ways to protect yourself from them.
Keylogger Beater will scramble and randomize your keys so that it confuses any keyloggers potentially hiding in your system. Additionally, you can even input keys through Keylogger Beater by hovering your mouse over them instead. The program will provide ‘shadow keys’ you can click on, which will end up transforming into the ‘real keys.’
Flash-based content is all over the web these days, but it can be a bit too heavy for your computer. What’s more is that Flash can easily be manipulated for malicious intents, making users extremely vulnerable wherever they go online.
A solution to this problem is Flashblock, which attempts to protect its installer by preventing any Flash-based content from loading. As a web page loads, the Flash content are replaced with placeholders you can click on to remove.
The internet was introduced to the ‘Flash cookie’ a few years back. This Flash-based cookie, which is also known as a ‘super cookie’ or ‘long-term cookie,’ is permanent. Users can’t delete the cookie via the regular methods, and it has no expiration date. Basically, an advertiser can use this to track you as long as it likes.
Considering how new these are, most browsers don’t have the capability to block these cookies. This is where BetterPrivacy comes in. This extension provides complete control over Flash cookies enabled on your computer, with very specific settings you can change. You can even customize it to delete Flash cookies on a certain schedule.
Please note that not all Flash cookies are meant for marketing means. You might need them to save your personal settings for browser-based games or certain account logins. If you do use BetterPrivacy, make sure you whitelist the Flash cookies you want to keep.
Whenever we see Like or Tweet buttons on a website, we are usually tempted to click on them. It might seem completely harmless, possibly even a shortcut to a social media account. However, most social media buttons found on third-party websites are embedded with trackers that advertisers can use to their advantage.
The best way to prevent this type of tracking is to block it before it even happens. You can use the ShareMeNot add-on on Firefox to stop the buttons from loading on the web page altogether, eliminating any tracking issues you might come across down the road.
Ghostery is a multi-browser alternative to Blur, meant to block trackers and protect your online activities. With Ghostery, you can click on any tracker it blocks and learn the details. While a normal user might not find this handy, it certainly might help you understand who attempts to track your online movements.
This extension is advantageous due to its versatility in options, but some might find it to be a bit slower than Blur. It’s recommended that you try both extensions to see which one suits you better. Keep in mind that Ghostery does enroll you in Ghostrank automatically, which is the company’s data collection program. Ghostrank is said to be used for advertising and analysis purposes, but it’s easy to opt-out of if you don’t want to be involved.
Policeman extension is solely for Mozilla-based browsers and offers a customized approach to online security. Users can change the settings based on the resource or domain type, allowing them to handle several aspects of the online content they access. There are quite a lot of customizable options available, so some knowledge of online security is recommended.
13. Web of Trust
As a responsible internet user, you need to be proactive about keeping yourself safe. You could resort to more simple tools like Web of Trust, but it can be easy to forget about it every single time you browse the web. To ensure that your online activities aren’t tracked and monitored, installing some browser extensions is necessary.
Wrapping things up
As long as the add-ons are compatible, you can utilize them simultaneously, which allows you even more protection. Why risk the chance of compromising your personal data when you could take preventative measures quickly and easily? Check out our other articles for more advice on keeping yourself safe online.
If you have knowledge of any other extensions to add to the list, do share in the comments below!