The 3 Best Browser Extensions to Protect Your Privacy

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When it comes to your privacy, there’s no such thing as being “too prepared.” That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our favorite extensions for boosting your browser’s privacy and security. The best part? They’re all FREE!

Ad Blockers

Take control of your browsing experience with a good ad blocker. Ad blockers prevent pesky popups and widgets from sending your data to advertisers. While the ad-blocker debate rages on, we believe you have the right to decide which ads to block and which ads to allow. Ad blockers let you do just that!

Our #1 Choice: uBlock Origin

Ublock-Origin

With dozens of free ad blockers out there, what makes uBlock Origin so special? For starters, it uses less memory than the others, so it doesn’t slow down your browsing experience.

ublock in action
uBlock Origin is our top pick when it comes to ad blockers

It’s also been found to effectively block more ads than any other ad blocker. uBlock Origin also lets you create personalized lists, giving you more control over what ads to block and what ads to allow.

Here’s an example of average load times on Chrome using various ad blockers.
ad blockers speed test

As you can see, uBlock Origin is the clear winner.

Runner-up: Adblock Plus

Oh, Adblock Plus, how we used to love thee.

adblock plus

Until recently, Adblock Plus was our go-to ad blocker. While it takes up a bit more space than uBlock Origin, it performed just as well.

adblock plus in action
Adblock Plus is great at blocking ads and scripts…for a price

Unfortunately, Adblock Plus has recently come under fire for letting certain ads pass in exchange for money. Cue the sad trombone music. What a letdown.

Jeff-doesnt-like

It goes without saying that uBlock Origin wins out in this category.

Anti-Tracking Extensions

Anti-tracking extensions protect your online anonymity by preventing your browsing from being tracked.

Many advertisers use cookies to track where you go and what you do on the Web—typically without your consent. Unlike ad blockers, anti-tracking extensions block cookies and protect you from tracking and malvertising. They help keep you invisible in the eyes of third-party advertisers.

With the right anti-tracking extension, you can keep your browsing habits away from third parties by stopping their tracking cookies dead in their tracks.

Our #1 Choice: Privacy Badger

Maybe we’re a little biased, but our pick for the best anti-tracking software is the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s own Privacy Badger.

ExpressEGG

privacy badger

Privacy Badger keeps an eye out for suspicious third parties tracking you while you browse different websites, then jumps to your defense by blocking their tracking cookies. The little badger is a good buddy to have by your side while you surf the Internet.

Privacy Badger in action
Privacy Badger has your back by preventing third parties from tracking you

Runner-up: Disconnect

Disconnect ad blocker

Like Privacy Badger, Disconnect helps protect your privacy by blocking third-party trackers.

disconnect in action
Disconnect blocks invisible trackers hoping to cash in on your online activity

While Disconnect and Privacy Badger are pretty similar, Privacy Badger takes the #1 spot because of its clever heuristic algorithm. With this algorithm, Privacy Badger learns when and what to block the more you use it, making it much more effective and powerful than Disconnect.

Site-Securing Extensions

After arming yourself with ad blockers and anti-tracking extensions, the coup-de-grâce in your privacy setup should be a good site-securing extension.

Secure websites use the HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) protocol. Websites secured by HTTPS encrypt your personal information like your credit card details, personal information, and other sensitive data.

But not all websites are HTTPS-enabled, so take your browsing security into your own hands with a site-securing extension. Here are our top picks!

Our #1 choice: HTTPS Everywhere

Stop wondering whether or not the website you’re browsing is safe. Use HTTPS Everywhere!

HTTPS Everywhere download

HTTPS Everywhere is the result of a collaborative effort between The Tor Project and the EFF. The plugin automatically rewrites requests to direct you to HTTPS-secured sites. So if your browsing takes you to unsecured areas of a website, HTTPS Everywhere will redirect you to the encrypted HTTPS site and keep your sensitive data from leaking.

https everywhere in action
With HTTPS Everywhere, you’ll never have to worry about landing on an unsecure site again

Runner-up: Web of Trust

web of trust extension

This crowdsourced extension notifies you when a website is trustworthy by displaying a green “go” light. An untrustworthy website yields a red “stop” light, warning you not to enter any sensitive information on the site.

web of trust in action
Web of Trust uses a red light to notify you whenever a particular site in untrustworthy

We gave HTTPS Everywhere the #1 spot over Web of Trust because HTTPS Everywhere goes the extra mile by redirecting you to safety, making it much more effective at keeping your browsing safe.

We hope this helps! If you have any questions about any of the mentioned software, just leave them in the form of a comment below and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

 

Featured image: WavebreakmediaMicro / Dollar Photo Club

17 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent article, folks. In this era of privacy concerns, such extensions are indeed a must-have. Thanks, Niraj (Founder at hiverhq.com)

  2. The 3 best browser extensions you recommend are all not available for the Safari browser!!! I’m a convinced user of Express VPN but I would really appreciate it if your blogs would also taking care of all the apple users. I would be happy to receive a respond.

  3. I’m new to Google and Google extensions so this may be a dumb question, but how much data do these extensions use when browsing on your phone?

    • Hi Diana,

      Not a whole lot. Also if you use our recommended ad blocker extension, you’re cutting the load times to more than half, consuming less data.

  4. I have tried some ad blockers that are not mentioned in this list and they always seem to block Facebook from working correctly.

  5. Close… You really only need two. uBlock and uMatrix. Turn off the lists in uBlock that are on in uMatrix and you have a good start. I run EasyList, EasyPrivacy, Fanboy, Disconnect Malvertising, and Spam404 in uBlock.
    uMatrix has a learning curve like NoScript does for FF, but it’s not bad. With uMatrix you can set HTTPS on a per site basis, so you won’t need the 3rd extension.
    My experience with HTTPS-Everywhere in FF wasn’t good. When I closed a Private Browser session CCleaner found their cookies that they left behind.
    Plus, by using extensions and addons from the same people you can take your uMatrix settings and export them from FF to Chrome and back.

  6. 1. using HTTPS is NO GUARANTEE of “safe browsing.” This is just a stupid belief.

    2. Privacy Badger is still very weak, even now (September 11, 2016)

    • HTTPS cuts out a number of attack vectors accessible to low key adversaries. HTTPS is no guarantee for anything, but as long as you respect warnings and make sure that it is used, you will make it impossible for a rogue router or curious kid in the coffee shop to sniff your passwords. That’s a big win!

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