Extensions can add a lot of exciting features and functions to your browser. However, just like any other online app they pose a real security threat if not properly chosen. As a web user, you should know how to stay safe when downloading an extension in order to avoid fraudsters and internet scammers. Below are some tips to ensure your browser extension is safe before installing:
1) Only use trusted web sources
Ensure that the website where you are getting the extension from is reputable and well-recognized. Typically, these sites undergo regular scrutiny by security specialists to filter out malicious addons that may pose a threat to users.
Additionally, take your time to understand what the app is going to do before downloading it. For instance, if you want to install an extension for Facebook then you should know if it would send notification to friends, or perform any other additional tasks you didn’t plan for.
In most cases, you can find a developer’s name by checking it under the listed extension. Upon clicking on the name it would redirect you to their website, where you can check up the available information. If the website is missing then it could be an indication that the extension is not trustworthy, and you should probably look for another one.
2) Check the permissions
Before installing any extension, you will typically get a message from the developer requesting for access to certain details of your PC or smartphone. Carefully read through the points mentioned to understand what level of privacy you’ll be getting with the app.
Remember with most browser extensions there’s no ‘pick and choose’ policy, you’ll be required to accept everything under the permissions page or nothing. If something doesn’t sound right to you, such as a photo-editing extension seeking access to everything you do online, then it’s wise to trust your instincts and go for another safer alternative.
3) Avoid installing too many extensions at once
This will not only affect the PC’s performance, but can also open multiple channels for a potential attack. Even simple extensions that seem harmless may still have access to your internet browser and pose a threat.
If you don’t get sufficient value from an extension then it would be better to uninstall it. Cut down your list of running extensions to just the essential ones, so as to reduce the chances of something going wrong.
4) Check out online reviews
Reading postings from previous users of the extension is a great way to assess the app’s trustworthiness. If most of the reviews are positive then it’s a clear indication that the extension is worth downloading and vice versa.
Furthermore, be on the lookout for common themes and content that majority of the reviewers are talking about. This will give you a brief understanding of the extension’s positive and weak points.
In conclusion, browser extensions are useful addons that can greatly impact on your online experience. However, you should know how to choose the best ones to install on your computer so as to avoid any security risks. The same way you are protecting yourself by using a VPN, the same mentality is needed when you want to install a new browser extension. Better start having a defensive mentality when your privacy is at stake, considering the amount of hacking that we have lately.