Google Chrome is one of the most downloaded browsers for desktops and being an inbuilt app on Android, makes it the most popular browsers overall. The major USP of Google is providing all its services essentially free of cost, which has helped it achieve its eye-whopping market share. But, all the free services come at a cost, and at a grim one at that!
Many sources claim Google indefinitely shares user data with companies including government services. All our online moves are trace by various companies, be it for refined ads, homeland security or to know which side your political beliefs lie. (Remember the Zola algorithm from Captain America?)
So, should we stop using Google Chrome? Absolutely not! To make browsing simpler and much secure, we have compiled a list of some of the best Google Chrome extensions that guard your privacy and have an ad-free experience.
The extensions have been sub-divided into the following categories based on their basic functionality.
- Ad- Blocker Extensions: Block all the ads from all websites on the Internet. These ads are notoriously famous for tracking your browsing
- Web Encryption Extension: Enforcing certain encryption algorithms protecting you from session hijacking/ spoofing attacks
- Anti- tracking extensions: Protects you from various 3rd party trackers
- Additional Privacy Extensions: Some more extensions that will help you to be anonymous online.
Related Article: 12 Effective Ways to Stay Anonymous on the Internet
Google Chrome Extensions for Privacy
1. Ad- Blockers
1.1 AdBlock Plus
Adblock Plus is the most popular ad-block extension on the Internet. It started off as a competitor of Adblock but soon overtook it by a huge margin. It only blocks the intrusive ads by default, but we can also add more filters from the “preferences” page as well.
However, this app consumes more system resources and hence, the bootup time for Chrome will be comparatively larger. Even the interface is a bit more complicated, including tasks like blocking individual elements right from the drop down menu and much more. For an average user, these aren’t as useful and hence the interface feels somewhat cluttered.
1.2 uBlock Origin
uBlock Origin is another promising, open-source ad-block software, which claims to do everything which Adblock Plus does while using fewer system resources. The USP of this extension is that it allows you to enable different 3rd party filters such as Fanboy’s Enhanced Tracking List, Dan Pollock’s host’s file, HP Hosts’ Ad and tracking servers among others.
The whole interface of uBlock Origin is pretty minimal with a large button to enable/ disable ad-blocking on the top.
Related Article: Adblock Plus vs uBlock Origin | Which one to Choose?
So unless you know exactly which script to allow to make site function smoothly, you will spend quite a while digging through the intensive list of scripts. All in all, ScriptSafe is most suitable for tech-geeks as it allows more control over which script you want to block or allow.
Bottom line: I personally use uBlock Origin and consider it to be the go-to ad-blocker for advanced users. It requires lesser system resources and loads web pages faster than any other ad-block extension available anywhere. However, Adblock Plus is a close second and would be a decent choice as well. Though, please make sure you whitelist your favorite website (like this one) if you are using an Adblocker.
2. Website Encryption Extensions
With Android apps like zAnti and cSploit etc, one can easily find out what other people are browsing on the Internet, or even spoof their login credentials. However, tools like these don’t work on sites that use https encryption.
Now although many popular sites support https, they don’t implement this by default. Even Facebook used to keep this optional, a few years back.
And that’s where HTTPS Everywhere comes in. It enforces HTTPS on every site that supports it, giving you a more secure browsing experience.
For e.g: If you click on a link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privacy, HTTPS Everywhere will automatically rewrite the link to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privacy, giving you an extra layer of protection even if you didn’t know that target site is available in HTTPS.
Once installed, the extension shunts your connection and tries to find secure SSL versions of the sites you visit. It’s a great way to protect your browsing without lifting a finger.
2.2 KB SSL Enforcer
Many websites uses SSL (short for secure socket layer) on their payment page. This SSL tags make sure the company is legit and verified. If you can’t see an SSL tag, you recheck its identity before entering your banking details.
Again, the problem is that not many sites use SSL certificates, mostly because acquiring one cost money and time. But if they have SSL certificate and they are keeping it optional then, KB SSL will automatically enforce it.
Bottom Line: KB SSL Enforcer is the go-to-extension for website encryption as it ensures that no unencrypted requests get delivered. Thus ensuring that you have a secure server in place every time you use the internet.
3. Anti- Tracking Extensions
Privacy Badger is a browser add-on that stops advertisers and other third-party domain tracking service from secretly tracking your online activity. If an advertiser seems to be tracking you across multiple websites without your permission, it automatically blocks that advertiser from loading any more content in your browser. To the advertiser, it’s like you suddenly disappeared.
Unlike other anti- tracking extensions, Privacy Badger’s blacklist is user-generated: instead of blocking sites, Privacy Badger blocks objectionable behavior. As you browse, if it detects the same third-party domain tracking you across three different sites, it blocks it.
However, Privacy Badger isn’t perfect; it’s in beta. It breaks a lot of websites, including some of the most popular news sites on the web. But its interface is very user-friendly, and it also lists all third-party requests — blocked or not.
Ghostery detects if any third party domain is tracking you across sites and will also notify you for the same. But it does not block these domains by default.
It has a better interface than “Privacy Badger”, but the major problem is with its “GhostRank” feature, which sells data on the ads you block to the ad companies themselves. Which, if you look at, is ironic as that’s exactly what the extension is supposed to stop.
Disconnect offers the search and browse part of their software for free or “pay what you want”. This free install includes Visual tracking, the ability to block sites and Private Search. However, this just gives you a false sense of security while browsing without the extra protection that their premium plan offers like Blocking malware & tracking.
Disconnect is a great tool for the browsers, provided you are willing to pay for their premium features.
Bottom Line: Privacy Badger is the best bet as an anti-tracker extension, as it easily manages to block most non-consensual trackers, unlike others. Also, instead of blocking the sites in themselves, it blocks the objectionable behaviors by third-party domains. Plus this also leads to fewer crashes while browsing as well.
4. Additional Privacy Extensions
It’s no secret that emails nowadays are grossly insecure. If you want a little privacy in your inbox, the easiest way to do it is to encrypt your messages. And to do so Mailvelope offers free, OpenPGP encryption for most popular webmail services that’s easy to configure and a breeze to use.
After installing this extension, you can generate your own public and private keys to encrypt messages in the extension’s preferences. Once your keys are ready, you can easily encrypt your messages by locking them with the generated keys. You can even use multiple keys for multiple recipients.
When you get an encrypted message, the process works in reverse. You’ll just need to enter your key password. Mailvelope will then search your saved keys to find the one needed, and decrypt the message for you.
Most of us use VPN’s to mask our network location, private information or to just access websites which are not available in our location. However, the browsers we use reveal some of the network information regardless of which VPN we use. WebRTC, allows browser applications to make voice calls, video calls or any live communications without the need for plugins.
However, these connections can allow certain network information to leak out. But WebRTC Network Limiter stops this leak from happening, making your network as secure as it can be.
You may also like: The Best Google Chrome Extensions
This is it for the list of top Google Chrome extensions for Privacy. Try using these extensions and let us know about your experience with them in the comments below! Also, do mention any of the important extensions, if we missed out, that you use for privacy in Chrome.
Also Read: How to make a Chrome Extension (with Video)