Browser Extensions and Internet Security

Browser extensions are small pieces of software you can choose to install that enhance the capability of your web browser. You may also hear them called add-ons or plug-ins, depending on the browser you use.  The benefit to these small pieces of software is you can personalize your browser so you can easily access information, block annoying ads, or even increase your overall Internet security.

I have a few extensions that make it into my favorites category.  Let's take a look at what they are and what they can do for you.

AdBlock Plus - AdBlock Plus blocks ads from showing up on your web browser.  Normally, if you perform a Google search for "kittens," you get a series of web pages about kittens and links to videos about kittens.  But that's not all you see; you also get links to places to purchase kittens or kitten food or kitten sweaters in the right column of your return results.  If you don't want to have to look at ads again, try AdBlock Plus, it removes ads from all web pages. 

Ghostery - Before I can explain what Ghostery does, I need to explain what a tracking cookie is.  A tracking cookie is a small piece of data sent from websites you visit that is stored in your browser.  These cookies keep track of your browsing activity on those websites, and even sometimes follow you from one website to another to see what else you are interested in so they can target advertising to you.  Many people think these cookies useful.  Others think they are threats to their privacy.  If you are concerned about tracking cookies, install Ghostery on your web browsers and it will take care of blocking them for you!

WebofTrust - While I don't know this for sure, I'm pretty sure that about 2.5 seconds after the Internet became a public commodity, the first online scam was invented.  It is really hard to tell which websites are legitimate and which you need to be more wary of.  WebofTrust uses the ratings of millions of users worldwide to rate websites to give you an about if a website is trustworthy.  In search results for most search engines you will get a green, yellow or red traffic light next to websites to indicate if the site is good or if you should be cautious when entering it.

Google Translate (Chrome or Firefox)  While this isn't related to Internet security, it is a pretty cool extension.  If you find a website that is written in a language you don't read, use Google Translate to see what they are saying! 

Not all extensions work in every web browser.  The four listed above all work in both Mozilla Firefox and in Google Chrome, but they don't necessarily work in Internet Explorer.  One of the big benefits of using a browser like Firefox or Chrome is the wide variety of browser extensions available in their "stores." If you want to see what extensions are available for your prefered web browser, try Googling the word extensions with the name of your web browser.  One of your first links will be to a page that gives you access to lists of extensions for that browser.

If your major concern is online safety, check out some of the classes the library offers in the Community Technology Center (CTC).  Upcoming classes you might be interested in are:

Staying Safe Online on Monday April 29, 2-3:30 p.m.
Protecting Your Computer Friday May 31, 11- 12:30 p.m.

For more class information, check on the CTC's page for continued updates.

As always, if you have any further questions, you can always call the CTC at 720-865-1706.

Written by squee on April 11, 2013


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