Everyone’s spying on you. Government agencies, corporations, marketers, ISPs, employers, exes, criminals, parents, and… OH NO WHOS THAT BEHIND YOU?!
If you are online or using your smartphone, someone is collecting your information. Luckily there’s plenty of browser extensions that help you better protect your privacy; here’s the five best that are free to download.
A collaboration between The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation spawned HTTPS Everywhere, a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites and makes your web browsing more secure.
Most websites use the unencrypted HTTP, which is prone to eavesdropping. HTTPS encrypts pages, therefore third parties have troubling seeing what page you are on. If a site doesn’t start with HTTPS, you shouldn’t send sensitive information to it. HTTPS Everywhere thwarts SSL when possible, and instead finds secure versions of these sites.
AdBlock Plus does a lot more than simply block ads (banner ads, pop up ads, rollover ads, video ads, and so on). The extension is hooked up with MalwareDomains.com, which keeps a constantly updated list of all potentially harmful domains. Adblock also kills third party scripts and widgets that collect your data. It’s very ease to use and to whitelist sites that you want to see ads on.
Become an internet detective thanks to Ghostery, which gives you a roll call of all the different ad networks, data providers, web publishers, etc that are interested in your web activity and habits. The more you learn about the companies using your data, the more you can make decisions on how to control your exposure to these companies. In the video below, Ghostery does a great job comparing pizza to the Invisible Internet.
Ghostery is very similar to DoNotTrackMe, so if you have that, Ghostery isn’t necessary.
Disconnect has two great features: private browsing and private search. Private browsing works by Disconnect crawling the web to find companies that track people, and then these companies get blocked. The toolbar button at the top of the browser will show you the number of tracking requests on every page you visit.
Disconnect Search is a perfect privacy companion to Google. Search engines save your searches, IP addresses, and personal information, which can all be connected to your real name. Disconnect anonymizes your searches by using a specialized VPN for private searching.
Web of Trust is the world’s leading crowdsourced website reputation service with over 80 million downloads. The simple extension shows a website’s reputation as traffic lights (green, yellow, red) in most search engines, social networks, and forums. Upon clicking the traffic light icons, information about a website’s reputation appears, along with user-submitted opinions. This will help you steer clear from online threats that anti-virus software misses.
There’s plenty more free extensions that safeguard some of your privacy. Provide the ones you use in the comments below.