3 Productivity Chrome Extensions That Secretly Help Your Security
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One of the most popular sections on the Google Chrome Store is its Productivity extensions. With so much juggling to do in our lives, anything that speeds up our everyday tasks is welcome.

But did you know that some productivity Chrome extensions can be used to boost your security and privacy? Here are just a few that you should consider adding to your browsing experience.

1. Social Fixer for Facebook

Love it or hate it, Facebook is the most widely-used social network in the world. It’s pretty rare to find someone who isn’t using it (although younger generations are increasingly turning to Snapchat).

Nonetheless, it’s far from perfect. We have loads of gripes about it Folks, It's Time to Delete the Facebook News Feed Folks, It's Time to Delete the Facebook News Feed It's time to get rid of your News Feed. It's more a distraction than anything else. Here's how (and why) you can delete it. Read More . Its algorithms leave a lot to be desired. At least MySpace felt somewhat customizable.

That’s where Social Fixer for Facebook comes in. This lets you tweak your newsfeed, letting you filter out sponsored posts, any statuses you’ve already seen, and unnecessary panels at either side of your main feed. It’s one of the best Chrome extensions for people who use Facebook.

This has two additional uses as a privacy tool.

The first is its Stealth Mode. You’re gazing through someone’s profile, going back years—merely to see what they’ve been up to, and relive old memories. Then you mistakenly click “like” on a status from 2009. Panic sets in. You picture yourself being arrested for stalking, standing in the dock and pleading that you’re not guilty; you were just curious.

That’s a big worry, right?

chrome productivity extensions boost security privacy

Stealth Mode hides the ability to “like”, share, and comment on statuses, so you can browse safe in the knowledge that you won’t accidentally alert people that you’re checking out their posts. Perfect.

Additionally, you might find a post that you feel the need to share through Twitter, Reddit, or elsewhere. But if you screenshot it, you’re also sharing personal details. Social Fixer’s “anonymize” function hides friends’ names, profile pictures, and more with a single click. You never have to worry about compromising your nearest and dearest again!

Download: Social Fixer for Facebook

2. Tab Wrangler

It’s easy to go overboard with tabs. You probably have numerous links open across different tabs right now.

Some users have a serious addiction, opening up hundreds of tabs and boasting that their performance isn’t slowed down at all. It’s pointless, of course: there’s no way you can pay good enough attention to that many tabs to warrant keeping so many open, and they do affect your CPU How to Identify Which Chrome Tabs Are Wasting RAM and CPU Resources How to Identify Which Chrome Tabs Are Wasting RAM and CPU Resources If Chrome is slow and laggy, it could be due to a rogue tab that's eating up too much RAM or CPU. Here's how to figure out which tab is the culprit. Read More . Once going above a set number (between 5 and 10 for the average user), just use your browsing history to keep track of useful pages.

Or you can use Tab Wrangler. This simply closes tabs after a set period of time of inactivity. It then lists everything it’s closed, so you can come back to them for reference. You can reopen them from here.

You can change how many tabs it allows you to have open before activating, and how long a page has to be idle before being closed.

chrome productivity extensions boost security privacy

The only problem is, if you’re filling out a form, leave it for a while, and the extension closes it, data won’t be saved. (Fortunately, it won’t close anything you have pinned, so we recommend doing that is you are midway through inputting private data.) Nonetheless, this is a handy add-on in a sea of tab-related extensions Speed Up Tab Handling on Chrome with These 7 Extensions Speed Up Tab Handling on Chrome with These 7 Extensions Chrome’s built-in tab management features can help you manage tabs well, but extensions from the Chrome Web Store can do that job even better. Read More .

It’s even handier considering the amount of malicious pop-ups populating the internet. If a page is running in the background that you don’t know about, Tab Wrangler will automatically shut it after some time because you’re not using it. You don’t even have to click anything on that tab; this can be especially troublesome if a pop-up displays a fake “x” button.

Then you can retrospectively check what’s been closed, spot anything you’re suspicious of, and maybe do a bit of investigation to find which site could be infected.

Download: Tab Wrangler

3. Filter by WOT

You should’ve heard about Web of Trust (WOT), even if you’ve been put off by recent controversies over its privacy policies.

WOT has been downloaded some 140 million times, and that community supports itself by letting each other know which sites are safe. If you attempt to go on a site that’s riddled with malware or is a scam, an alert will come up. You can ignore that warning and proceed regardless; or it gives you the option of returning to the search engine.

chrome productivity extensions boost security privacy

Color-coded rankings even appear alongside Google search results, meaning you can tell if a site is a danger to your device without going on it at all. It’s a great add-on for the security-conscious.

Filter by WOT is naturally by the same developers, but allows you to block content you don’t want to see. That might be entire sites, including distractions like Buzzfeed; keywords, so you never have to worry about Game of Thrones spoilers again; or subdomains (i.e. political sections if it’s all getting too much to handle right now Sick of Politics? 3 Powerful Ways to Clean Up Facebook Sick of Politics? 3 Powerful Ways to Clean Up Facebook You're probably using Facebook wrong. But don't feel bad — so is practically everyone else. An unconfigured Facebook page can be desperately annoying — but there are ways to clean it up. Read More ).

These are all useful for your productivity, of course, but WOT is founded on principles to keep you safe. So yes, you can block Twitter if it’s getting in the way of coursework. But similarly, you can block adult content, so your kids can’t access gambling sites etc.

Equally, let’s say that a fellow PC user goes on a site that’s been sold on, and that site now serves malicious adverts Don't Be a Victim of Malvertising: Stay Safe with These Tips Don't Be a Victim of Malvertising: Stay Safe with These Tips One reason why we are seeing a rise in advanced malware reaching our computers is the improvement of malware delivery. Aside from increases in phishing, campaigns, security researchers have noted a significant rise in malvertising. Read More . Don’t risk anyone accidentally going on it as a habit; just block it. And don’t forget to explain why. Otherwise, people are going to get very

Download: Filter by WOT

But Are These Extensions Safe?

Good question!

You do have to be wary when it comes to extensions. They’re created by third-parties to fix issues that browsers don’t otherwise address. But they’re in your toolbar and have the potential to monitor everything. In fact, if you use security add-ons How to Migrate From LastPass to an Alternative Password Manager How to Migrate From LastPass to an Alternative Password Manager LastPass is a popular password manager, but if you've decided to move to another solution, you'll need to export your data. Here's how to export your data into 1Password, Dashlane, or KeePass. Read More like LastPass, they manage your passwords for you How Password Managers Keep Your Passwords Safe How Password Managers Keep Your Passwords Safe Passwords that are hard to crack are also hard to remember. Want to be safe? You need a password manager. Here's how they work and how they keep you safe. Read More .

You have to be sure you’re downloading a secure extension that looks after your data.

Google screens everything that goes into its App Store, so anything out-and-out malicious doesn’t make the cut. It’s not ideal: sometimes, Google makes mistakes, and something dodgy slips through.

How can you tell what is good and what is worth avoiding? Look at reviews. Check for reputability. Look for recommendations, such as our own guide to the best Chrome extensions The Best Chrome Extensions The Best Chrome Extensions A list of only the best extensions for Google Chrome, including suggestions from our readers. Read More !

What Have We Missed?

It’s best not to clutter up your browser 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Install Lots Of Browser Extensions [Opinion] 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Install Lots Of Browser Extensions [Opinion] We all love our browsers, and we all love the extensions that you can install with them. We love browser extensions because they allow us to do what we want our browser to do that... Read More with too many add-ons. Still, there’s a balance to be found, and aside from these productivity extensions, there are loads of security ones available.

Many people swear by password managers Goodbye 1Password? 5 Alternative Free Password Managers to Check Out Goodbye 1Password? 5 Alternative Free Password Managers to Check Out You can stay safe online and get all the benefits of a password manager without paying a dime. Try these free password managers. Read More . We certainly advise you to download something that will encrypt your personal data, like a VPN or HTTPS Everywhere What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default Security concerns are spreading far and wide and have reached the forefront of most everybody's mind. Terms like antivirus or firewall are no longer strange vocabulary and are not only understood, but also used by... Read More .

What are your favorite productivity Chrome extensions? And do you feel like they make you more secure? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Explore more about: Browser Extensions, Google Chrome, Online Security.

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  1. Jeffrey Kaplan
    March 2, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Ad blocking: uBlock. Less resources and same or better blocking performance than the line of AdBlock named extensions. Also better per-site settings.

    HTTPS Everywhere, which attempts to enforce using the https protocol where available over http.

  2. Mike
    March 2, 2018 at 5:52 am

    WOT throws a ton of false positives, as it is community generated, and is taken advantage of by malicious people who would like to see a certain website's reputation tarnished. You can trust WOT occasionally, but not as an extension to be used for serious security purposes.

  3. Pete
    March 1, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    To get the best customisation of Facebook look no further than FB Purity which gives a superb level of customisational control over what you view, screen format, custom filters and much more. I might have fled Facebook if I had to put up with the bombardment of ads, posted crap, FB suggestions and other annoyances that FB Purity filters out.

    By the way I'm just a happy user and have no other connection with FB Purity.

    • Vance Balacek
      March 2, 2018 at 12:05 am

      Ditto!