We’re all aware by now that Chromebooks can’t get viruses, but you still need to protect your data while you browse. There have been a lot of talks lately about how Chrome extensions have been coming up maliciously in the news, but that’s nothing new.
Just before Christmas, 15 such extensions were caught stealing user data and we warned that you ought to remove them immediately. Additionally, The Great Suspender was found to be The Great Pretender – having been sold off to an unknown party and installing updates with code changes on user machines without their permission. Google is starting to give you more control over what data extensions have access to and they’re also creating a ‘seal of approval’ for developers who are more transparent about how they’re using your information. While we encourage that you perform a Safety Check every once in a while for bad actor extensions via your Chrome browser settings, I thought that today I’d take the opportunity to tell you about my favorite five Chrome Web Store extensions for protecting your privacy as you use your Chromebook.
While it may sound contradictory to recommend extensions while there’s so much negative press around them, the ones we’ll discuss today have a rock-solid reputation so far as I’ve seen and I’ve been using them all for several years. While I was a Chromebook Expert in retail, I installed at least one of these on every single Chromebook that I set up for my clients, so I thought that we could shine a light in a dark space today. Let’s get started!
An Online Malicious URL Blocklist is enforced by default and there are several URL tracking lists blocked as well. It’s lightweight, open-source, and granular.
If you get nothing else from this list, let uBlock Origin be your go-to extension – period. It’s my advice that you do not even waste your time with AdBlock because, while it’s a popular name, it has had several look-alikes pop up in recent times that are meant to steal your data.
Block ads, stop trackers and speed up websites. Ghostery uncovers the trackers on each website and empowers you to control the ones you don’t want for a cleaner, faster, and safer browsing experience.
Ghostery’s built-in ad blocker removes advertisements from a webpage to eliminate clutter so you can focus on the content you want. Enhanced Anti Tracking also anonymizes your data to further protect your privacy.
Disconnect has revolutionized online privacy with the most powerful and user friendly VPN app available. With one click, easily block hidden trackers on websites and in apps. Encrypt all your traffic to secure it from unwanted surveillance when you use public Wi-Fi, travel, or want to keep your online activity private.
This extension was created by Brian Kennish who spent more than a decade building the software that allows companies to track your data online. He developed ad servers for Double Click in the early 2000s, and then joined Google where he worked on the search giant’s first AdWords API. Now, he’s keeping their nose out of your business and he has the experience to be effective at it.
HTTPS Everywhere is a free and open-source browser extension for Google Chrome which is developed collaboratively by The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Next month, Chrome will automatically switch typed URLs over to HTTPS as you input them, but as of right now, this is not the case. HTTP (without the “S”) is considered dangerous because it could allow third-parties to eavesdrop on your traffic and falsify it as it travels from point A to point B.
We’ll soon be entirely done with HTTP, but in the meantime, you can force it to be on for all websites (those that don’t yet support it). This could sometimes break a website if it does not support HTTPS, but my advice to you is to simply not visit that site if it’s not secure as your privacy is more important.
Privacy Badger automatically learns to block invisible trackers. Like a badger…it “sniffs” them out. It’s different from Disconnect, Ghostery, and the others because it just works – there are no settings that need to be tinkered with, there are no customizations to be made in order for it to be effective. Essentially, the user needs no knowledge of how to configure it whatsoever in order to benefit from it.
Privacy Badger was born out of our desire to be able to recommend a single extension that would automatically analyze and block any tracker or ad that violated the principle of user consent. It’s being produced by an organization that is unambiguously working for its users rather than for advertisers, and it uses algorithmic methods to decide what is and isn’t tracking. The developers hope that this approach will allow them to produce a codebase that could eventually be adopted by the aforementioned extensions.