5 Popular Firefox Extensions You Should Remove Right Now
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Extensions add all sorts of new functionality to your browser that it doesn’t have out of the box. While we love add-ons, unfortunately they aren’t all trustworthy.

For every productivity-boosting extension, there’s a useless or malicious one that wants to track your habits, spam you with ads, or even hijack your browsing.

If you have any of the below Firefox extensions installed, we recommend removing them right away.

1. Web of Trust

Web of Trust (WOT) sounds like a great idea in theory. It’s a crowdsourced online reputation service, where users can vote on how trustworthy a site is. In turn, everyone using the extension sees a colored ring letting them know how safe a website is. While this should serve as a helpful guide to the web, WOT suffers from two major issues.

The first is that in November 2016, a German broadcasting company, NDR, found that WOT was secretly collecting tons of user data You Should Uninstall Web of Trust Right Now You Should Uninstall Web of Trust Right Now You should consider uninstalling WOT right now. Why? Because Web of Trust has been caught collecting and selling user data. Even worse, this data hasn't always been successfully anonymized. Read More and sold this information to third parties. NDR illustrated how trivial it was to link this activity to individual users. Thus, the data revealed illnesses, drug usage, travel plans, and more sensitive data.

Mozilla pulled the extension after this due to it violating the terms of Firefox add-ons. WOT has returned as an extension to browsers and cleaned up its act, but we feel that you have no reason to trust it after this Web of Trust Data Breach: Accident or Money-Grab? Web of Trust Data Breach: Accident or Money-Grab? The Web of Trust browser extension has been silently and forcibly removed by Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Did the popular privacy and security extension collecting and sell your data to third-parties? Read More .

That’s especially true when you realize that the WOT model has some issues. Anyone can rate a website in seconds without even confirming an email address. This makes WOT ratings susceptible to abuse. Dangerous websites could artificially inflate their ratings, while anyone could leave poor reviews on sites they don’t agree with. Some extension reviews also mention that WOT removed their critical reviews of a site.

Overall, WOT isn’t trustworthy and you shouldn’t use it. Give Netcraft a try if you’d like an alternative that works in Firefox. Webutation is a good alternative, but it’s only available as a Chrome extension.

2. AdBlock Plus

We aren’t fans of adblockers at MakeUseOf. Since we provide our content for free, ads help us keep the lights on. While we’d prefer that everyone stopped using adblock, we realize that’s a far-off dream.

But if you’re going to use an adblocker, you should drop AdBlock Plus. While it’s one of the most popular adblocking extensions, it’s extremely heavy and may slow down your surfing more than the ads themselves. If you feel like your browser is sluggish 5 Things To Do When Firefox Runs Slow But Other Browsers Run Fast 5 Things To Do When Firefox Runs Slow But Other Browsers Run Fast Firefox shouldn’t feel slow, particularly when compared to Opera and Internet Explorer. If it does, try these tips and see if you can restore it to its full glory. Read More , uninstalling AdBlock Plus may give it a welcome boost.

3. Hola

Hola is a popular service that claims it’s a free VPN. Using it, the company says, you can easily access region-blocked content and get around various restrictions. While this may be true, Hola’s methods are awful.

In 2015, the founder of 8chan found that Hola’s network was attacking his site. It then became clear that Hola is essentially a giant botnet. If you’re not familiar, a botnet is basically a network of zombie computers controlled by a malicious entity. Whoever controls it can use the computers in the botnet to distribute spam, DDoS a website, or perform similar attacks.

Hola is a peer-to-peer network, not a true VPN. If it were, it would encrypt your browsing traffic in a secure tunnel. Instead, Hola routes your browsing through other user’s connections. Thus, if you want to watch a show that’s blocked in your country, Hola lets you use the connection of someone in another region. The problem is that the traffic looks like it’s coming from their PC.

Imagine if you used Hola and someone went through your connection to download movies illegally or upload explicit content. It would be nearly impossible to prove that it wasn’t you. Additionally, Hola sells bandwidth of its free users through another service that it owns, Luminati.

So basically, Hola does not care at all about its users’ safety and using it opens you up to the whims of anyone else on the service. That’s dangerous, and you should run from Hola like the disease it is. Check out the website Adios Hola, created by security researchers, for more information.

Hola illustrates the dangers of using a free VPN well. You should replace it with a quality paid VPN The Best VPN Services The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More instead to truly protect your browsing.

4. Antivirus Extensions

It’s well-known advice that you should have an antivirus installed The Best Computer Security and Antivirus Tools The Best Computer Security and Antivirus Tools Need a security solution for your PC? Concerned about malware, ransomware, viruses, and intruders through your firewalls? Want to back up vital data? Just confused about it all? Here's everything you need to know. Read More . Most free antivirus apps, in an annoying effort to make money Top Free Antivirus Apps Without Nag Screens and Bloatware Top Free Antivirus Apps Without Nag Screens and Bloatware Nagging antivirus apps are a huge pain. You don't have to put up with them, even for free. Here are the best antivirus programs that don't come with popups or bundled junk. Read More , install a browser extension in addition to their desktop app. While you might think that these extensions keep you even safer, the reality is that they’re mostly useless.

We took an in-depth look at Avira Browser Safety Is Avira Browser Safety a Necessary Extension? Is Avira Browser Safety a Necessary Extension? Avira Browser Safety sounds like a great way to stay safe online, but do you really need this extension? Let's take a look at what it does for you. Read More , and the same conclusions apply to other antivirus extensions. Your antivirus already monitors your web traffic and downloads to prevent you from opening your computer up to infection, so the extension isn’t protecting you in a new way. Modern browsers already warn you about unsafe sites, and features like privacy protection are done better elsewhere The Complete Guide to Improving Your Online Security and Defending Your Privacy The Complete Guide to Improving Your Online Security and Defending Your Privacy Everyone wants your data, reputable companies and criminals alike. If you want to build up your defenses and protect yourself online, let us guide you through how to improve your security and safeguard your privacy. Read More .

With a good antivirus and safe browsing habits, you’ll be better off than with what a lousy extension offers. Plus, antivirus companies can use these to track you even more Is Your Antivirus Tracking You? You'd Be Surprised At What It Sends Is Your Antivirus Tracking You? You'd Be Surprised At What It Sends Read More . Remove them and you won’t ever look back.

5. Fake and Dangerous Extensions

Recently, there’s been a swarm of dangerous Firefox extensions making the rounds. They’re distributed via junk sites that claim to offer Firefox updates. If you visit one, you’ll see a Firefox requires a manual update message, follow by a prompt to install a malicious extension.

unsafe firefox extensions

Once a user installs this, they’ll see ads all over the place and links they click will open junk websites How To Clean A Hijacked Web Browser How To Clean A Hijacked Web Browser What's more frustrating than launching Firefox only to see that your homepage has been changed without your authorization? Maybe you've even got a shiny new toolbar. Those things are always useful, right? Wrong. Read More instead of the ones they expect. Even worse, they prevent you from opening the Add-ons menu in Firefox. This makes them difficult to remove.

If you suspect you have one of these installed, try opening Firefox in Safe Mode by holding Shift when you click its icon. This lets you start Firefox without any extensions running. You can then remove the extension and stop this nonsense. The website and extension names change all the time, but a few known names are:

  • FF Protect AntiVir
  • FF Helper Checker
  • FF Search Informer

Beware of Unsafe and Shady Firefox Extensions

We’ve taken a look at five extensions that no Firefox user should install. Whether outright malicious or just useless, removing these will improve your privacy and hopefully speed up your browsing a bit.

Firefox extensions were a lot more dangerous before the major Firefox Quantum update. Now, they don’t have access to sensitive parts of the browser like they once did. Quantum’s new extension model is similar to Chrome’s: it doesn’t let extensions do as much, but they’re much safer.

If you also use Chrome, check out our list of Chrome extensions you should uninstall 10 Chrome Extensions You Should Uninstall Right Now 10 Chrome Extensions You Should Uninstall Right Now It's hard to keep track of which extensions have been caught abusing their privileges, but you should definitely uninstall these 10 as soon as possible. Read More .

Explore more about: Browser Extensions, Mozilla Firefox, Online Security.

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  1. Ron Headley
    November 11, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    You'll have to pry AdBlock Plus out of my cold, dead Firefox. Pages loading a millisecond slower doesn't make a bit of difference to me.

  2. isse
    March 10, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    I had whitelisted MUO per their request. Reading this article today was an exceptionally excruciating exercise in patience, as it would not finish loading and I could only scroll down in spurts. Same thing happened on a couple of other articles from the newsletter I clicked on. Then I tried removing it from the whitelist and voila! everything is loading quickly again. Makes one go "hmmm."

  3. Godel
    March 8, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    These days uBlock Origin is generally regarded as a better replacement for Adblock Plus.

    • Perry F. Bruns
      March 9, 2018 at 1:19 pm

      I've been using uBlock Origin for quite some time as well, and I definitely prefer it. It also works on Waterfox, which I prefer over Firefox, especially since Quantum is rubbish.

  4. Jonathan
    March 8, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    I use Firefox with AdBlock Plus and it works just fine. If there's a site that wants me to disable it to see their content, I just don't go there...it's not like you can't find the same or equal content elsewhere. If websites would quit making it so difficult to access content without having to slog through a buttload of totally worthless ads, especially those pretending to be legitimate content, we wouldn't need adblockers.

  5. Paul
    March 8, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Sorry, but your description of AdBlock is way off the mark. My browser becomes unusable when I allow ads... so I block them, and all is good again.

    • Edwardo
      March 8, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      Heck, I simply quit using FireFox all together! I use only Chrome now, complete with AdBlock+ and AdRemover. Life is good.

      • Paul
        March 8, 2018 at 2:40 pm

        Better to use Firefox with ads, then Chrome! If you really want to go that route, at least use Chromium ... it's Chrome without the garbage.

        • Edwardo
          March 8, 2018 at 3:33 pm

          Nope. FireFox has ruined their browser. I don't like FireFox now; I like Chrome now; that's my choice. I will take a look at your suggested Chromium browser. Thanks for the response.

  6. Leo_sk
    March 4, 2018 at 7:11 am

    If possible, provide instructions on how to whitelist the site. Most chinese browsers and even samsung has adblocks preinstalled. An average user wont understand and get confused. Or just ask to disable adblock

  7. Bill c
    March 1, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    I would be delighted to stop using Adblock plus as soon as your web site publishes a guarantee that the ads served will not contain malware, crypto miners Java script etc. Will you do that?

    • BeedleTheBard
      March 2, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      For me, it is loading ads which slows down both the page rendering and the browser. Enabling Adblock Plus does not slow down my browser, on the contrary it improves page load speed and also the browser performance. I notice a really huge difference in page load time without Adblock Plus, even on this site.

    • Who Cares
      March 3, 2018 at 8:49 pm

      I will. I simply block those content in hosts file, a simple search will give you a list of ad sites to block.