The 3 best browser extensions to protect your privacy (updated for 2018)

Brad

A man with a shield is worried about internet privacy.

When it comes to your privacy, there’s no such thing as being “too prepared.” That’s why ExpressVPN 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, ExpressVPN believes 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

Install from Chrome web store
Install as Add-on to Firefox
Install as Add-on to Opera

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.

When uBlock Origin is in action, it gives you a tally of all the requests it has blocked
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 even 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

Install from Chrome web store
Install as Add-on to Firefox
Install as Add-on to Opera

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

Adblock Plus page at the Chrome store

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, recording each blocked ad
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.

The Dude does not abide Adblock Plus's selling out

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

Install from Chrome web store
Install as Add-on to Firefox
Install as Add-on to Opera

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

Privacy Badger page at the Chrome store

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, counting the trackers it has detected
Privacy Badger has your back by preventing third parties from tracking you

Runner-up: Ghostery

Install from Chrome web store
Install as Add-on to Firefox
Install as Add-on to Opera
Install from Microsoft store

Ghostery anti-tracking page at the Chrome store

Ghostery works similarly to Privacy Badger but comes with a slightly better interface. There’s also an option to share your data with Ghostery to improve your experience. However, Ghostery doesn’t block any trackers by default and only lets you inspect them from the interface, where you can decide what to do with them.

Ghostery has a great UI

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

Install from Chrome web store
Install as Add-on to Firefox
Install as Add-on to Opera

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

HTTPS Everywhere page on the Chrome store

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.

ExpressVPN users have an even better way to enjoy the security of HTTPS Everywhere: The ExpressVPN Chrome extension comes with HTTPS Everywhere functionality built in! (Read more about the other benefits of the ExpressVPN Chrome extension below.)

HTTPS Everywhere in action, directing you to the more secure version of websites
With HTTPS Everywhere, you’ll never have to worry about landing on an unsecure site again

Runner-up: KB SSL Enforcer

Install from Chrome web store

KB SSL Enforcer page at the Chrome store

KB SSL Enforcer redirects to the HTTPS version of a website whenever it is available. Because there’s no need to manually add rules this sometimes works better than HTTPS Everywhere. However, it might also force you to visit the HTTPS version of the site, even if it’s broken.

(Bonus!) Privacy extensions

Our #1 choice: ExpressVPN Browser Extension

Get the ExpressVPN Chrome Extension

That’s right. Shameless product plug here. But in all seriousness, when it comes to privacy extensions, there’s simply none better than the ExpressVPN Chrome extension. With your existing ExpressVPN account you can take advantage of private, anonymous browsing with 148 server locations in 94 countries and counting.

The ExpressVPN browser extension offers seamless integration and works for both Mac and Windows. Plus, with fan-favorite features like a built-in kill switch, DNS leak protection, HTTPS Everywhere and more, you can browse more safely without the extra hassle of having to open your VPN app every time you log in.

Get the ExpressVPN Chrome extension for safer browsing.

Installation takes seconds, and it runs the same as traditional ExpressVPN apps. Keep in mind that to use the ExpressVPN browser extension you’ll either need to have the ExpressVPN Mac app (version 6.4 or newer) or ExpressVPN Windows app (version 6.2 or newer).

Hope this helps you! If you have any questions about any of the mentioned software, just leave them in the form of a comment below, and ExpressVPN will get back to you.

 

Featured image: WavebreakmediaMicro / Dollar Photo Club

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