Privacy Protection is Up to You – Here’re 6 Top Browser Plugins that Will Help

by Emily on September 22, 2019

in Articles

It’s an epidemic. We visit a retail site and look at a few items. All of a sudden, we are seeing those and similar items posted on our social media walls, as sidebar ads on our email accounts, and virtually every time we open up our browser. It’s irritating, and a bit concerning. Our browsing history is being tracked by everyone it seems. The question becomes, what else is being tracked by sites we are opening? The truth is, we don’t really know. Even when sties promise personal privacy (just like Facebook did at one time), there are no guarantees. Our information is sold to third-parties; hackers can easily track wherever we go. And we leave digital footprints all over the web.

If this is a matter of concern for you, and it should be, you need to get on top of this issue and take measures to protect yourself – no one else is going to do it for you.

With that in mind, here are six of the best plugins/extensions that you should consider downloading.

AdBlock Plus

If you want control over your browsing experiences, can use this plugin to block ads, popups and third-party scripts and other widgets that are sending your data lots of other places. But you do have to learn how to use the plugin – if you don’t it will break the sites you do want to go through, and you will have to figure out what to allow and what to block. Basically, you will be able to block banner, popup and roller ads; you can block third-party tracking and cookies. The other great thing? It will block you from visiting dangerous domains that may contain malware. For just the basic features, you can enable it and leave the rest to the plugin.

Alternatives to AdBlock Plus

There are some other options here too

  • uBlock Origin – for use with Firefox and Chrome. It’s probably just as good as AdBlock Plus, and it gives a user even more control over what can be blocked. It’s a bit more advanced, though, and there is definitely a learning curve involved. The good news is, it uses fewer system resources, but it has to be customized, and that takes some learning. A good plugin for the more sophisticated techies out there.
  • NoScript and ScriptSafe (for Firefox and Chrome respectively). These will disable scripts automatically unless you allow them. Using these takes a bit of know-how and figuring out which scripts are running on each site so that you can figure out which ones to allow so the site works properly.

Disconnect

So, you know that companies are tracking your movements, and there’s big money to be made by companies that do this. They can inundate you with advertising that is just plain irritating. With all of this have come large numbers of anti-tracking plugins to use. All of them are quite similar and do pretty much the same thing. Disconnect is a good choice because it accomplishes the following:

  • It will protect against tracking
  • It protects from malware
  • It blocks third-party cookie tracking
  • It gives users control over site scripts
  • It has a simple toolbar menu to use
  • It protects from tracking by social platforms that are using your browsing to collect your data without your knowing it

Privacy Badger

This one is relatively new but its cool feature is that it has built-in memory that builds a blocklist based on your behavior and the behavior of trackers. And it alerts you with colored buttons that show if you are being tracked

Do Not Track Me

This one is configured for use by IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. There is a drop-down menu that will show you cookies and scripts on each site you access, and you will have the option to disable them individually. This is a good choice for anyone who wants to leave all tracking on and just disable the ones they select.

Ghosterly

Here’s a plugin that blocks everything by default. But, of course, you will see what has been blocked and can unblock individual elements you choose to. It has a huge database, and you have complete control. The one problem with Ghosterly is that it has been known to sell data to advertisers, something you probably won’t like.

Free Vs. Premium Packages

How much privacy do you really want? Your answer to this question will determine which versions of any of these plugins you decide to use. There are free versions, of course, but they are not as sophisticated as the premium ones, and your options will be more limited. “The free versions are probably sufficient, says, Vicky Miller, IT security manager for BestEssay.Education, an online writing service, “but if you are one who surfs a lot and uses a lot of public Wi-Fi providers, you will want something more sophisticated.”

The premium version of Disconnect, for example, will provide settings for all of your devices, and it will give you a much faster load time than the open-source free one. Plus, it provides a VPN that will keep all of your browsing safe. It maintains a list of all known malware and checks every site you access against it. Only you can determine what your needs and desires are and choose a package that you can afford.

Additional Privacy Tools – You Should Have a VPN

If you ever log onto a public Wi-Fi network (and who hasn’t), you know the risk. All of your behavior can be tracked. A virtual private network (VPN) can eliminate that risk and protect your private information. As Carl McPherson, IT manager for GrabMyEssay states, “VPN’s are no longer just for organizations that need to protect their customer information. Individuals should also take responsibility for their own privacy, and it’s easier to do today.”

If you are not sure exactly how a VPN works, here’s how. When you log on, all of your behavior is taken to an encrypted tunnel, and the resultant IP address masks both your identity and your location.

Even at home, your internet service provider can pass your information around, and, if your area has only one ISP, you really have no choice. And, unless you have a VPN, you cannot ever “fake” your IP address, which you might want to do. Still, another benefit is this: in some countries, governments have blocked certain websites. With a VPN, you can still get through.

Just the Tip

The amount of privacy you want is a personal choice, but you should want a good amount of it. Hackers and even purportedly legitimate providers and such are not your friends. They either want your information for bad purposes or they want to sell it to others. Why allow this if you don’t have to? Do your research, take a long look at the six plugins listed above, and take steps to protect yourself.

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