We talk a lot about security on Make Tech Easier. Whether you’re securing FireFox or using a browser dedicated to privacy, we understand the importance of security in our connected, digital world. If you’re a user of Google Chrome, you may be neglecting your browser security.
The web browser is the primary way that most users interact with the Internet, and it’s perhaps the largest vector of attack that can be used by viruses, malware and malicious third parties. Having proper browser security is important, now more than ever, especially if you’re managing things like PayPal accounts and bank details.
Fortunately for you, there are a few ways to increase the security of your Chrome browser. Why else would we be here if there weren’t?
Privacy Extensions (Easy)
Chief among the ways of making Google Chrome have better security is installing extensions that enhance your privacy and Internet security. The easiest one would be HTTPS Everywhere which you may recognize from my previous FireFox security article. That article is worth mentioning, too, since a lot of the things you can do to secure your installation of FireFox can also be done on Chrome.
The extensions from that article include:
- Disconnect – An extension that allows you to block sites that track you across the web. In addition to privacy, this speeds up your Internet connection significantly.
- uBlock Origin – An adblocker that’s better than AdBlock Plus. What more do you need?
- Web of Trust – Rates websites based on worldwide community feedback. Fishy websites will be flagged on Web of Trust, so keeping an eye on Web of Trust ratings is a simple, easy way to make sure you’re browsing safe, no matter where you go.
Here are a few more, for good measure.
- Secure Profile. – Your Chrome installation stores all kinds of userdata by default, including a huge list of passwords that can be accessed by anyone who knows the password to your computer. To add an extra layer of protection to your stored passwords, use this extension.
- Credit Card Nanny. – Not every site will treat your credit card info properly. Credit Card Nanny will tell you if a site is doing something it shouldn’t with your secure payment information.
Using a VPN Service (Advanced)
Here’s what many people consider to be a nuclear option. Want full browser security? Use a VPN! A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, encrypts and routes all your data through external, secure servers so that no one – not your ISP, not the NSA – knows what you’re doing with your Internet connection.
However, there are free VPN browser solutions. Looking among the available Chrome options, the two most highly-rated and used are Hola’s Unlimited Free VPN and DotVPN. Unlimited Free VPN is great for circumventing content blocks, but its usage as an actual full VPN client may be up for debaate. Meanwhile, DotVPN is great, when it works, but sometimes it doesn’t, according to reviews.
Google’s End-To-End Initiative (Difficult)
The NSA security scandal was and is a big deal, especially for the big tech companies who were revealed to be vulnerable during that incident. Despite Google’s reputation as an advertiser, Google actually cares quite a bit about security and privacy of its user data. That’s why it’s been working on securing the Internet lately. They push for proper encryption on all websites using the HTTPS standard. Google isn’t alone; a lot of tech and web companies are on the search giant’s side here.
In order to support this, Google is developing an end-to-end extension designed to encrypt all web traffic done through its Chrome browser. At the time of writing (Feb 2016), this project isn’t yet done and likely has many bugs. An alpha version of the extension is on github, and it’ll be in development for a while.
Overall, what you do with your browser is up to you. Using the options I’ve given you above, however, you should find that your browsing data is more secure than ever! Just be sure to stay away from suspicious sites, and take care of security and maintenance on the rest of your computer.