A VPN service is a great protection against attacks and surveillance, but it’s not enough to make you completely safe on the web. The majority of the time we use a computer, we are on the Internet, which makes it important to take steps to secure our browsing and protect ourselves against the biggest threats.
There are different kinds of attacks you can face. Some of them are caused by the web page you are on while others can be blamed on the web browser you are using.
Regardless of where the vulnerability is, your web browser is the main tool to manipulate and add the data we wish in order to protect ourselves from attacks, tracking and phishing.
This article will go through and explain the functionality of the best plugins for Chrome and Firefox and how they can help you against threats.
Let’s start with perhaps the most famous one. You probably know that this plugin is widely used as a tool to remove advertising from websites, but let me tell you what else it can do.
As a matter of fact, a commonly used way of sending harmful code is through advertising. This is known as malvertising. In 2012, almost 10 billion ads where reported to be used for harmful purposes. It’s become a widely used tool for spreading harmful code, as it’s simple to have on many large websites without needing to hack them.
Adblock works great and can be installed in a heartbeat. It also has filter lists, which are maintained by third-parties and used to better keep up with the development of new advertising methods. There are different lists that focus on different things, such as stopping malware, integrity, and popups.
HTTPS Everywhere is another famous must-have plugin! This great plugin keeps track of websites using HTTPS protocols. If it detects that the website you are on uses HTTPS, it will automatically use an encrypted connection to that website.
HTTPS Everywhere offers a lot of benefits, perhaps the greatest one being that the connection between you and a website using an HTTPS protocol is encrypted, which makes information sent between you and the website unreadable. Thus, the plugin protects you from being monitored.
However, it’s important that you don’t accept bad certificates as this might mean that someone has generated their own certificate and thus hold the encryption keys to it.
If you at any point should see something similar to the picture above, you should be aware. Unfortunately, only a few seem to understand what server certificate errors are. The best way to avoid being exposed in this instance is to close the web page and afterwards go back to the page to see if you get the same error message. This helps protect you from MITM-attacker with HTTPS Everywhere. And regardless of whether you are using a VPN service, there is no reason not to use an encrypted connection such as the one that HTTPS Everywhere offers.
Download and install HTTPS Everywhere
Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Android: https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere
Another good plugin that helps in protecting your integrity is Ghostery. Tracking is very common on the Internet these days, used to see what websites you’ve previously visited, enabling to direct fitting advertising to you. Ghostery allows you to see who is tracking you, and you can choose which trackers you want to allow.
This video does a great job explaining how tracking can work.
Download and install Ghostery
Chrome, Firefox, and Opera: https://www.ghostery.com/
The Lastpass plugin keeps track of your passwords. Many find this plugin very useful, but in my opinion, it’s only good if you have long and complicated passwords that are different for every website you have a login for. In the end, it’s still up to each website to secure your password. If a website for example only hashes your password with MD5 (and without salt), it’s very easy to obtain your password and access your accounts. However, with a long and complicated password, the risk is substantially lower for anyone to get access to your password. The issue is then obviously that you need to remember long and complicated passwords. To get around this problem, I recommend Lastpass as it helps you to securely remember long and complicated passwords that you are bound to otherwise forget after a while.
If you already use the plugins we’ve discussed so far – good for you! It means you are taking your online security seriously. If you haven’t tried any of them, make sure to check them out!
There are thousands of other useful plugins I haven’t mentioned so far. You’ll find a few of my favorites below:
This was a guest post by Chloë.