How to make sure your browser extensions are safe

Browser extensions can It’s very useful, fills in functionality gaps, adds great new features and options, and makes life on the web more convenient overall.

At the same time, they potentially pose a serious security risk – many demand to see everything you see online, some change key settings within your browser, and can work and communicate with their developers (or with advertisers or other parties) in the background without your knowledge.

We don’t want to discourage you from using your favorite add-ons, but you should definitely make sure that the ones you use are safe.

First, all the usual rules apply: keep your PC and its apps updated. Run regular malware scans. This will go a long way towards reducing the risks posed by potentially dodgy extensions. Other than these tips, here’s how to conduct an audit.

How to spot threats early

Determining a bad browser extension is not an exact science, but there are some general pointers to follow. Always do your research before installing any add-on — check reviews from other users and reviews on the web, if any. Find out when the add-on was last updated, as really old and outdated tools can be less secure than newer ones, and definitely look for indications that the add-on has changed recently.

It is important to make sure that the extensions you install come from official repositories, such as chrome online store or the Firefox add-ons outlet. It gives you a degree of certainty that the software you’re installing is legitimate and safe, so be a little wary of the extensions you find elsewhere.

We’re not saying that new, unreviewed add-ons from unknown developers are bad, but you should be more wary of them – can you find anything about the company or the person behind the tool? Is it clear how the extension is being funded or is it a spirited project? What clues can you get from the website linked to the extensions list page, for example?

Double-check the permissions requested by the add-on. In some cases (Firefox), it will be listed on the extension page on the web; In others (Chrome), you won’t see them until you install the software. Watch out for any permission requests that seem unreasonable or strange given what the add-on is supposed to do.

How to check Chrome extensions

Chrome extensions.

Screen capture: David Nield via Google

To see the extensions you have installed in Chrome, click the three dots (top right), then choose More tools And the Accessories. click details Next to any extension to reveal more information about it, including what browser permissions it needs to run and how much disk space it takes up.

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