Google Chrome is the primary web browser used by billions of internet users on any device. With its clean and friendly interface, people enjoy using it. However, it is not only about its interface, but Google makes an effort to be relevant in our times by adopting voice searches and using SEO strategies to give users what they need. Furthermore, Google is dedicated to keeping their browser safe, providing tons of flexible extensions, and a Google syncing account for personal and professional use.
However, despite Chrome’s safe environment, there are possible ways that hackers can steal data from users.
People can personalize their Chrome experience by using extensions available in the web store. However, these extensions can pose a risk. Chrome extensions are posted and created by anyone. It’s not only Google who made extensions for their users. Therefore, there is a possibility that a hacker could post a Chrome extension on the web store that’s free to download.
With so many extensions available on the web store, how can one tell the difference between a safe extension and a bad one? And can you not use an extension at all to be safe?
What is a Browser Extension?
A web or browser extension serves as a mini-program or firmware that extends the functionality of the browser. Other names given to it are plug-in or add-on.
With coding skills, anyone can learn to create extensions for any browser.
Benefits of Extensions
Web extensions are helpful in personalizing the user’s experience and adding features that can make it better. There are thousands of extensions available online and not all are bad. You can find some extensions that are safe and beneficial to your Chrome browsing experience.
If in doubt if you need an extension or not, here are the reasons why you should add one to your browser.
- It speeds up the browser, makes it convenient, and it is easy to use.
- Integrates non-integrable functions. It is done by inserting it into a third-party product.
- It can integrate systems and cloud services into a complex landscape.
- Keep browsers safe from threats.
You can choose to add an extension or not. It depends on your needs or if you want to improve your browser experience. But if you decide to add a browser extension to your Chrome, make sure to check if it is safe.
How to Check If Chrome Extensions Are Safe?
1. Check the Developer
Before installing a plug-in in your browser, read about the developer. You have to make sure that the developer is legitimate.
You can check out their profile as there is a public profile available to verify their identity. You can locate the developer’s name directly under the name of the extension. When you click on it, you will go to the developer’s website.
However, there are times that you cannot click on the link, or the developer’s name does not direct you to a website. Remember, it doesn’t mean that when a developer has a website that it is considered a legitimate extension. Some fake extensions are good at masquerading as a safe thing.
2. Read the Description
Reading the description can help determine the safety of the extension. Sometimes you can spot some evidence of a fake extension. Read the entire description and check the details about the tracking and sharing of data.
Sometimes, some bad extensions have poorly written descriptions and odd-looking screenshots. However, it’s a rare occurrence as hackers are extremely good at hiding their motives.
Look for information regarding data collection, tracking, and how they use your data. Never accept extensions that gather your data for other purposes.
4. Learn About Permissions
When adding an extension to the browser, a pop-up will appear asking for permission to access features or functions for it to work. An extension asking permission to perform a task that is not based on its intended purposes can signal a red flag.
However, unlike with mobile apps, you cannot install the extension if you deny permission for one request.
5. Check Reviews
Read the review section of an extension before installing it. You can see if the reviews posted were real or may seem odd. Check out the reviews posted, the wording, and the username. Fake reviews are used for counterfeit extensions to make their add-ons look legit.
Aside from looking out for fake positive reviews, you can also search for negative reviews, if available. Watch out for people complaining about the extension and how it manages their data. Check if multiple users complain about it.
6. Search for Similar Extensions
When you input a keyword for the extension you need, the web store will provide you with all the extensions that use it. You can expect extensions with a clone. Be wary of what to install.
7. Check the Source Code
Most extensions are open source. You can check the page that has the source code. If an extension mentions that it is updated on its page, the source code page must contain the updated code. However, if not, the extension is not open-source, and it could have privacy issues.
8. Search About the Extension of Social Networks
If you want to know if there are issues with the extension, you can search for other people’s experiences on social networks.
Chrome Extension You Might Want for Your Browser
As a bonus, here are some extensions you might want to add to your browser.
Creating complicated passwords is essential to protecting your accounts. However, remembering all of it is impossible. With Chrome extension LastPass, you can save multiple passwords, usernames, and credit card numbers, so you won’t forget about them anymore.
When you have the extension, you can easily log in to your accounts with the autofill feature.
Are you getting tired of annoying ads? Adblock Plus is the most popular ad-blocking tool that can block a large selection of advertisements. It can collapse the ads naturally or replace them with white space.
Furthermore, users have the option to choose which ad network they want to block.
Save to Pocket
If you are fond of reading, the Save to Pocket extension helps you save images, videos, articles, and so on. It will automatically sync with all your devices.
Click & Clean
With the Click & Clean extension, you can delete cookies, clear the cache, and avoid Incognito Mode tracking all at once. It also gives you the option to delete your history once you close your browser.
Furthermore, it is also used to run privacy checks and scan for malware.
Now that you know how to look for a safe extension, you can go on and research the extensions you want for your browser. Also, don’t forget to protect not only your browser, but your entire device. Use antivirus software, VPN, avoid clicking on links, and so on. By following this cybersecurity checklist, you can protect your device and your sensitive information online.
Vanessa Venugopal is a passionate content writer. With four years of experience, she mastered the art of writing in various styles and topics. She is currently writing for Softvire Australia and Softvire New Zealand.