Sunday, April 13, 2014

Use these browser plugins to keep yourself safe online

Your browser is the point of contact to internet and *the* most vulnerable spot. In addition to which browser you use, its most important to use it with right set of apps (plugins). Plugins are apps that run within your browser and enhances your browsing experience.

Using random plugins can expose all your browsing history and data to external world. Every plugin has access to all your web history and data that you send. All your user names, passwords, emails, and chats can be accessed by plugins. So make sure you monitor your usage of plugins in your browser.
Plugins can also ensure your safety online. Here is good list of plugins that improves your online experience and keeps your safe.

I am using Google Chrome as reference browser to demonstrate various plugins. Almost all of the below plugins are also supported on other browsers (Internet explorer, FireFox & Safari). Google Chrome claims to be most secure browser plus its fast and comes with great user interface - try switching to chrome if you haven’t tried it yet. Each tab in Chrome is separate process and that helps on security and memory management - *the* feature that I like most in chrome.

HTTPS Everywhere - Encrypt all your communication on web automatically. Your browser uses network protocol to fetch web pages from internet. This protocol (HTTP) is unsecured by default and all communication happening can be sniffed over network. HTTPS takes this web protocol to next level by adding encryption. It uses secret keys to encrypt data between your browser and web to ensure no one in middle can see or change what you are doing.

Installing HTTPS ensures that any website that also supports secure browsing is used automatically. You do not need to do anything extra once you install it. This plugin will do the job of connecting you to secure channel whenever available.
Install HTTPS Everywhere via this link -

SiteAdvisor & WOT - Both of these plugins are great in categorizing web page as 'Red', 'Green', 'Amber' or 'Grey'(unknown). Red indicates unsafe and you should avoid navigating to those sites. Green is for safe sites that are tested and confirmed by security vendors. Amber/Yellow color indicates possible issues and gives it as warning. Grey is for new websites that are still unknown and not categorized.   WOT and

SiteAdvisor show red/green/amber & grey icons next to links in browser and help you right away before you move to dangerous website. It updates your search results, social networking pages and emails to ensure that all web links are tagged for ratings.
SiteAdvisor comes from McAfee and Intel company.  McAfee (And other security vendors) does job of visiting millions of websites for security/safety and categorizes given site/web-page for users. Great amount of research and work is done behind the scene to provide such kind of easy to use functionality for users. Websites are tested frequently enough to keep the categorization up-to-date and ensuring no users are infected due to stale reports.

Content from websites is constantly scanned to ensure you don’t get spam-emails, virus downloads, automatic downloads, script execution to take your identity, third-party links referenced from those sites and more.

Download and Install SiteAdvisor from -
Installing WOT -

DoNotTrackMe - Plugin that disables websites for tracking you. When you visit a website, it can write into your machine the time and date you visited with your id. It can then track back your history and monitor what you do on websites. Someone on web knows what exactly you do on and can use it for their advantage. Good way to disable this is by using 'DoNoTrackMe' plugin. It disables tags(cookies) that are used by websites and thus protects your privacy.

This plugin also provides email blocking functionality by providing a dummy email and links to your emails. You can stop receiving emails by blocking dummy email-address and free yourself from spam.
Install DoNotTrackMe -

AdBlock - Disable annoying ads shown on search result, websites or facebook. It blocks all unwanted
traffic and improves your browsing experience. Its not purely a security related plugin, however as it blocks ads you are ensured of showing content from unwanted websites and thus tracking you

Install Adblock from -

Sign into Chrome to sync plugins  - Google chrome provides this functionality to sync your bookmarks, history and plugins in browser. Do sign in chrome to ensure all your plugins are also available on other computers which you use and don’t have to re-install them. 

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