The internet is a bad place. Sure, it gives you the ability to FaceTime grandma, purchase sustainable toilet paper, or look out virtual windows from around the world, but these days it is important to protect your privacy and security while surfing the web.
In April, the FBI posted a public service announcement, noting that the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) was seeing an increase in reports of online extortion scams during the current “stay-at-home” orders due the COVID-19 crisis. This was due to the fact that people around the world found themselves spending more time online while stuck at home, leaving the door wide open for scammers to find new victims.
We want to protect you innocent cherubs, so we rounded up our favorite Chrome extensions for protecting your online privacy and security, because we know that not everyone is James Veitch who can turn a scammer encounter into a charming story.
Ads Transparency Spotlight: This Chrome extension, which was just launched this past week, already boasts over 10,000 users. Ads Transparency Spotlight shows users how many ads are being loaded on any given page, what advertisers or ad tech companies are present on the page, and what user data has been used to show personalized ads. The extension pulls information from Google’s Ad Disclosure Schema, and shows reasons why ads are shown on a page, including your demographics, location, interests, and more.
AdBlock: With over 60 million users, AdBlock is one of the top ad blockers out there. Users can block ads and pop-ups on YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, and other social media sites and websites, and protect themselves from ads with hidden malware, scams, and cryptocurrency miners. Users can even replace ads with pictures of cats, dogs (good bois), and scenic views! Now that is adorable.
LastPass: This extension has the Laughing Samurai stamp of approval and the only password manager extension we obsess over! LastPass is an award-winning password manager that not only saves your passwords, but it gives you secure access from every computer and mobile device. All you need to do is set a strong master password to log in to LastPass, and it’ll save every username and password to your vault. This came in handy when I recently spilled water all over my laptop and needed to log in remotely from my iPhone. Oops. This robust password manager is free to use on any computer, laptop, phone or tablet, and teams can even share passwords with each other.
Click&Clean: Perfect for users who are up to nefarious things, Click&Clean deletes typed URLs and your browser history, empties caches, clears cookies, and removes your download history instantly in just one click.
HTTPS Everywhere: Many of us aren’t paying attention to URLs as we browse the web, but you can count on HTTPS Everywhere to do so. This extension automatically switches thousands of sites from insecure “http” to secure “https,” and will protect you against many forms of surveillance and account hijacking.
Avast Online Security: Let Avast Online Security protect you from phishing attacks like Wonder Woman deflects bullets with her cuffs. Ping! Avast Online Security identifies and blocks phishing sites trying to steal your data, easily lets users check the rating of any website by hovering over the link, warns you when websites have bad reputations, and blocks tracking cookies that collect data, among other features.
ZenMate VPN: We finally found a workaround to watching Harry Potter on Netflix (the movies are available to stream internationally, but not in the US 😭). ZenMate VPN uses military-grade encryption to secure all your traffic and hide your IP address so you can unblock any website, streaming service, or more on the internet.
uMatrix: Control your internet browsing experience with uMatrix. This extension puts you in full control of where your browser is allowed to connect, what type of data it is allowed to download, and what it is allowed to execute. Don’t let the technology we’ve created control you. Take the red pill.
Once you’re done installing these apps and thanking us, be sure to check out our round-up of 22 Chrome extensions to level up your Gmail inbox.