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What are Browser Extensions and How they Affect your Privacy?

What are Browser Extensions and How they Affect your Privacy?

Browser extensions basically enable the user to have a better online experience. They “extend” the web browsers’ ability and facilitate the use of some applications. Yet, the following questions pops up in many users mind before downloading these extensions:

Are they safe? do they affect your privacy? do they steal your credit card information?

This blog will answer your questions and tell you every thing you need to know about *browser extensions *(add-ons).

Browser Extension (Add-on)

browser extension, *or *Add-on is a computer program that extends the function of web browsers. They enable additional features on your web browsers, modify web pages and integrate your browser with the other services you use. For instance, Betternet is a free VPN extension that allows you to access blocked websites and surf the internet anonymously. After installing this browser extension you can easily connect it with one click on top of your Chrome or Firefox browser on your desktop. Some* Browser extensions* can change the user interface of the web browser without directly affecting viewable content of a web page by adding a “toolbar.” Many web browsers have an online “store” that allow users to find extensions and see lists of popular extensions, either free or paid. Google ChromeMozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari, all provide such stores for installing add-ons. Chrome extensions are available on Chrome Web Store, Firefox extensions are available on Mozilla’s Add-ons site and for those who still use Internet Explorer, Microsoft hosts an Internet Explorer Add-on Gallery website, but the selection is extremely limited.

Here are some examples ofGoogle Chrome browser extensions:

  • Betternet Chrome Extension with this free*VPN* extension you can easily unblock all filtered websites and surf anonymously. You can download it here for Chrome and Firefox extensions.
  • AdBlock A very useful extension that stops most ads from loading on your browser and gives you a faster browsing experience.
  • *The Great Suspender *This wonderful extension puts your Chrome’s opened tabs that you don’t use to sleep in order to increase your browser’s speed. This speed ups your laptop performance considerably.

Some examples for Mozilla Firefox browser add-ons:

Here are some tips to prevent installing malicious add-ons and extensions:

  •  Always read the Privacy Policy section of each extension before installation. This will tell you what kind of data the extension will have access to. However, you should consider the fact that many extensions ask to have access to your private data in order to be able to work. For more information about this section please refer to Google’s Extension Warnings.
  •  Only download browser extensions from authors/developers that you know and trust. Extensions with great reviews are much more reliable than obscure and unknown extensions.
  • Use extensions that have a lot of users online. This also somehow assures you that you are using something that lots of people trust. Bear in mind that the majority of extensions in Chrome and Firefox are created by well-intentioned developers to ease your experience online but to avoid the malicious extensions make sure you read reviews, check the number of extensions’ users and read the privacy policy for each extension.

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Thank you!

by Benjamin White