Browser extensions are small software modules that allow for customization of a web browser and make your browsing experience more enjoyable. Browsers typically allow a variety of extensions, including user interface modifications, ad blocking, and cookie management.
However, not all extensions are useful. Some can invade your privacy, or worse, steal your personal data. Because extensions run in your browser, malicious extensions can use their access to snoop on your browsing or capture credit card numbers or passwords.
To limit the chance of installing bad extensions, you can install the Extension Police extension for Chrome to scrutinize all of your extensions on your Chrome browser.
What Is Extension Police?
Extension Police addresses the downsides of extensions. It takes a look at each extension, its permissions, and other data to determine if each one is safe or unsafe.
Furthermore, Extension Police detects extensions that mine cryptocurrency, inject ads, and hijack accounts.
How to Use It
You can find Extension Police in the Chrome Web Store. Click on the Install button and accept the permissions. Extension Police asks for only one permission – to control the other extensions you have installed on your browser.
The extension adds an icon that looks like a police badge to the address bar. Once you see that, the program is ready to use.
To start the program, click on the icon on the address bar. A window will appear where Extension Police lists each of your active extensions and gives them a security rating.
You will see your extensions grouped into lists of the active (enabled) and inactive (disabled) programs.
Next to each extension name, there is a toggle switch to enable or disable it. When you click on an extension, Extension Police displays the following information:
- all the permissions granted to the extension
- an easy-to-understand interpretation of the permissions
- name of the developer
- developer’s email address, if it’s available
- number of users, the rating, and a description of the extension
How to Interpret the Ratings
The program assigns four different ratings – safe, medium risk, high potential risk, and danger – to your installed extensions.
The permissions determine the risk level the program gives each extension. The more it can access, the higher the risk it will be assigned. Just because an extension is considered high risk by Extension Police, does not mean the app is malicious or that it abuses the information it has access to.
For example, an extension like uBlock Origin is given a high-risk rating because of the requested permissions. But the permissions required by this program are justified when you look at what the extension is designed to do.
You decide if you think the permissions requested by the publisher of the extension make sense with the purpose of the program.
If the extension has a large number of users and a high rating, take that into account when deciding if you want to use it. Most likely all those users wouldn’t be giving high scores if the app was dangerous.
Once you decide you want to delete a potentially dangerous extension, you can click on the “Delete” option. It appears when you click on the name of the program. If you want to keep an extension, but keep it inactive until you need it, you can turn it off by clicking the toggle switch.
Other Features You May Want to Use
Another thing Extension Police can do is secure your critical websites by blocking all “potentially dangerous” extensions on sites that include online banking, shopping, and social media.
To secure the critical websites, click on the gear icon, and permit Extension Police to access browser tabs.
Is this for You?
Most advanced users of the internet who know what to look for when adding extensions will probably not find this program useful. Extension Police is most helpful for people who use extensions but are not vetting them beforehand or aren’t sure exactly what to look for when they install them. No matter what, you shouldn’t just blindly accept the ratings given to your extensions. Extension Police is a tool to help you make good decisions about what you install on your computer.