Apple CEO Tim Cook has said: “Our own information is being weaponized against us with military efficiency. Every day, billions of dollars change hands and countless decisions are made on the basis of our likes and dislikes, our friends and families, our relationships and conversations, our wishes and fears, our hopes and dreams. These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold.”
Wow — that’s scary stuff. Unfortunately, it’s also accurate. We have entered an era where we are the product, and our data is the currency. So, what can we do about it? We can’t turn back the clock. However, we can significantly enhance our privacy by using these eight free browser extensions:
Facebook Container isolates your Facebook identity into a separate container, which makes it tougher for Facebook to track your visits to other websites using third-party cookies. Keep in mind, however, that since you’ll be logged into Facebook only in the Container, embedded Facebook comments and Like buttons in tabs outside the Container won’t work. Currently, Facebook Container is only available for Firefox .
Are you wary of clicking shortened links because you’re not 100% sure where they will lead? Well, that’s where Unshorten.link comes to the rescue. With this extension, any shortened link that you click on is automatically expanded and analyzed for malware. Plus, the extension will automatically remove known tracking cookies from URLs. Currently, Unshorten.link is only available for Chrome.
DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials
If you’re looking for an all-in-one privacy extension, then you need DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials. This automatically blocks hidden third-party trackers, features a private built-in search engine that searches and surfs without being tracked, forces sites to use an HTTPS connection (where available), and gives each side a “Privacy Grade” from A to F so that you can see how protected you are. DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials is available for Chrome and Firefox.
The problem with many ad blocking extensions is that they’re bloated and put a drain on CPU and memory. However, uBlock Origin is remarkably lightweight and highly effective. It’s also very easy to whitelist a specific site, and you can load and enforce thousands of filters. The open source uBlock Origin is available for both Chrome and Firefox.
This extension sends the Global Privacy Control signal to opt you out of data sharing and selling, and it sends a Do Not Track signal that tells companies not to track you. If these trackers ignore your instructions, Privacy Badger will learn to block them. In addition, the extension replaces potentially safe and useful trackers (e.g. comment widgets, etc.) with click-to-activate placeholders, and it removes outgoing link click tracking on Google and Facebook. Privacy Badger is available for Chrome and Firefox.
As the name suggests, HTTPS automatically switches thousands of sites to HTTPS (keep in mind that it cannot make connection to a site secure if that site doesn’t offer HTTPS as an option). The extension also protects against many types of surveillance and potential account hijacking, as well as some forms of censorship. HTTPS Everywhere is available for Chrome and Firefox.
Avast Online Security
This popular extension checks every site you visit to make sure everything is safe. It identifies and blocks phishing sites and tracking cookies, displays site ratings based on a community of more than 400 million users, and automatically opens when you shop or bank online. Avast Online Security is available for Chrome and Firefox.
Devolutions Web Login
Devolutions Web Login is an easy-to-install browser extension that is used in conjunction with Remote Desktop Manager, Devolutions Server, and Devolutions Password Hub. It securely injects passwords into websites using credentials that are stored in your vaults. It also gives system administrators full control over the management of passwords, but without affecting end user productivity. Devolutions Web Login is available for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Edge. You can download it here.
Share Your Experience & Advice
Have you used any of these extensions? If so, please share your experience. Please also recommend any extensions that we should all be using to enhance privacy and security.