6 browser extensions to help you browse the web privately


Browser extensions can help protect your data while online.

Angela Lang/CNET

Russian invasion of Ukraine has many countries alert to possible cyber warfare. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said cyber-attacks can affect businesses large and small, as well as home offices, though it doesn’t see any cyber threats specific to the US at this time.

US officials blamed Russia cyber attacks on Ukrainian websites in February. Meanwhile, Russian ransomware group Conti warned that the group would “hit back” with “retaliatory measures” if countries used cyberattacks against Russia in retaliation for the invasion. And the Ukrainian government asked hackers to help defend the country’s infrastructure once the invasion began.

According to CISA, updating your web browser, as well as your devices and applications, is a good step to protect your data and privacy. We recommend that you regularly improve your overall privacy by trying a security-focused browser like Brave, or by updating your current browser’s security settings to have more control over how much of your data is collected. You can further protect yourself online by using a security-focused browser add-on. Here are six browser extensions to help you stay safe online.

HTTPS everywhere

The first three browser extensions on this list — HTTPS Everywhere, Privacy Badger, and uBlock Origin — have received some lengthy recommendations from CNET reviewers.

The HTTPS Everywhere extension is available through a partnership between the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the TOR project. Many websites already use secure connections, but some don’t, leaving their visitors vulnerable to threats, such as having malware delivered to their device. If you visit an unsecured website, HTTPS Everywhere checks whether it offers a secure connection. If one is available, the add-on will force the site to use that connection.

HTTPS Everywhere is available for most browsers except Safari.

Privacy Badger

This is another extension of the EFF. Privacy Badger prevents advertisers and third-party trackers from tracking your where you go on the web, and if it suspects that an advertiser is following you without your permission, it will block that advertiser from loading content into your browser. The extension also has a color-coded guide so you know which sites are safe and which are not.

Privacy Badger is available for most web browsers except Safari.

uBlock Origin

At first glance, uBlock Origin looks like another ad blocker, but it also blocks third-party trackers and domains known to belong to malware sources based on a community-generated list. If you’re using a VPN – and you really should – this extension also has a WebRTC blocking feature, so your IP address is well hidden.

uBlock Origin is available for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Opera and Safari.

Malwarebytes Browser Guard

Malwarebytes Browser Guard blocks trackers and other threats to protect your data from web pages that contain malware. It also protects against technical support scams, where a Microsoft “specialist” will call or message you that they’ve identified a virus on your computer and can remove it for a fee, and virtual credit card skimmers, where your credit card information is stolen if you do something. buy online. The add-on also blocks pop-ups, which has the added benefit of making web pages load faster.

We haven’t tested Malwarebytes Browser Guard, but it has at least 4 out of 5 stars and over 9 million users. Many people found it useful, but some people found that the extension broke some websites or was missing some trackers. We recommend that you thoroughly evaluate Malwarebyte Browser Guard before choosing to use it.

Malwarebytes Browser Guard is available for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Safari.

Avira browser security

Security software maker Avira offers Avira Browser Safety extension that can help protect against infected ads, unwanted applications hidden in downloads, as well as flag malicious websites that may appear in your search results. The company also said the extension can help prevent browser hijacking, where unwanted software changes a web browser’s settings without permission, making it easier to inject unwanted ads into a browser.

We haven’t tested Avira Browser Guard, but it has at least 4 out of 5 stars with over six million users. While many users found it useful, some experienced problems using the extension and opening Google Docs. We recommend that you carefully evaluate Avira Browser Guard before choosing to use it.

Avira Browser Safety is available for free for Google Chrome, Firefox and Opera.


Have you looked at a long URL and wondered what those random letters, numbers and symbols mean? Some of that gibberish is probably a web tracker. Web trackers are a set of techniques — such as installing cookies on your browser and monitoring sites that use share buttons associated with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter — that companies use to collect data about you based on the sites you visit. have visited. ClearURLs removes the web tracker and cleans up the URL. If a site like Google then tries to reinsert that tracking element into the URL, ClearURLs will stop it. You can access a report from the extension showing how many elements are blocked. This extension also makes sharing URLs with friends and family less cluttered, which is a plus.

We didn’t test ClearURLs and while the extension is at least 4 out of 5 stars with at least 200,000 users, some users complained that they couldn’t whitelist sites and set custom rules. We recommend carefully evaluating ClearURLs before choosing to use it.

ClearURLs is available for free for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Firefox.

For more privacy and security news, how VPNs can help protect your home office, read these cybersecurity tips for small businesses, and this checklist to improve your overall privacy.

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