Your Favorite Browser Plugin May Be a Major Security Threat

July 6, 2016

2:30 pm

Browser plugins, extensions and other customizations can make your web browsing experience much more enjoyable, but they also run the risk of leaving your computer ripe for a malicious attack. Due to this, it is vital to be more aware of the pros and cons of these add-ons before you make the decision to install anything else into your browser. After all, making it easier to shop online or track stock prices won’t be worthwhile if your identity ends up getting stolen as a result.

How Do Browser Plugins Go Bad?

Extensions and plugins are built by tech-savvy individuals, which means that you need to be able to trust that they have done so for an altruistic or legal business purpose. Unfortunately, the fact that almost 1 million new types of malware are created and released into the Internet every single day conclusively proves that many people do not have your best interests in mind when they offer browser add-ons.

These plugins and extensions are just as easy for cyber-criminals to manipulate as other viruses and malware. Sadly, the odds are high that there is at least one thing installed in your browser right now that is tracking and potentially transmitting information you don’t want anyone else to have access to such as your credit card number or online banking password. According to Panda Security, the risk isn’t even worth it because browser add-ons are only compatible with about 1 percent of the 10,000 most popular websites. Additionally, a whopping 83 percent of all currently available browser functionalities serve absolutely no viable function, regardless of their advertised services.

Keeping Your Computer Safe

Ultimately, the best way to ensure that your computer does not contain malware or any other insidious computer viruses is to keep everything as tight as possible. Taking a minimalist approach may seem like it will hurt your productivity, but the previously mentioned stats regarding the actual usefulness of browser add-ons make it clear that it would be better to remove most of your currently existing customizations.

Keep in mind that even if all of your browser add-ons are safe and useful, they can still end up making your computer run more slowly. This is the main reason that it is recommended that you choose only the highest quality, top-rated extensions for your browser. For example, if you are having a difficult time staying focused at work, you may want to start using LeechBlock or another similar tool to prevent yourself from wasting time on unnecessary websites. Be sure to look at user reviews and the amount of time that an extension has been available before you add it to your browser.

Remaining cautious and minimizing the amount of add-ons you use will create a safer web browsing environment. Additionally, you will need to keep your antivirus and anti-malware software up to date, along with installing security patches and updates for your plug-ins and extensions. If all of this seems too cumbersome for a simple add-on, then it may make the most sense to simply leave your browser in its more simplistic format. This might make web browsing a little less intuitive, but it could also protect you from cyber-theft.

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Holly Chavez is a former engineer and current writer and entrepreneur. She enjoys writing informative articles about technology and is amazed at all the new inventions and strides that happen every day. Holly also cares about the environment and is involved with writing projects and activism that supports sustainability, Green living and lowering the carbon footprint.

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