Google Chrome allows the user to install privacy-focused extensions. These tools work by blocking cookies and tracking techniques, preventing websites from monitoring and collecting your browsing behavior, something that violates your privacy. In addition to the privacy benefits, the plugins have security features, such as data encryption, and can make your browser faster.
Below are 6 free extensions to install in Chrome and prevent websites from spying on you. It is worth mentioning that some tools can offer paid plans to free more resources and that they can also be used in secondary browsers such as Opera, Edge, etc.
1. Privacy Badger
The Privacy Badger extension aims to block scripts and tracking techniques that websites employ to try to map users’ browsing habits. With a focus on usability, the tool can operate on its own automatically, preventing the tracking of most of the mechanisms employed by sites.
There is also the possibility of regulating the way Privacy Badger works for greater or lesser filtering. If it happens that the extension ends up disfiguring the functioning of a site, the user can simply turn it off for that specific page.
Available not only in Chrome but in several browsers, Ghostery is an extension that works in a similar way to Privacy Badger. The tool detects cookies created by pages you visit and blocks their action, preventing the tracking of your Internet habits and making navigation faster and more efficient.
Besides these basic actions, found in most of the options on this list, Ghostery is also able to clearly display which sites, companies, and entities are trying to monitor your navigation. The plugin also offers a didactic interface, which clearly explains the different ways of tracking.
3. Adblock Plus
Famous for blocking advertisements, the Adblock Plus extension goes further and also offers functions that prevent the tracking of user habits on the Internet. The tool also allows controlling access to Internet addresses associated with malware distribution.
Another function of Adblock Plus is the blocking of the social network sharing buttons, present on several Internet pages. Even if you do not click on them, they can generate data that are sent to the respective networks regarding the pages you visit. Thus, the feature can generate extra protection.
Although it also has the ability to prevent tracking of your Internet habits, the Blur extension has a greater focus on protecting the data you share with the pages. By applying powerful encryption techniques, the plugin makes browsing safer by sending protected versions of personal information, such as passwords and credit card data, to websites.
This way, if a page you frequently visit ends up hacked, your data will not be available for attackers to detect. Among the blocking features, Blur is also very complete, able to prevent tracking by both cookies and scripts.
In the free version, Disconnect is one of the most recommended privacy extensions for Chrome and derived browsers. The feature allows not only to block tracking techniques but also to identify with foresight who is behind the practice. In the paid version, Disconnect costs $50 per year and offers the reinforcement of your own VPN and a monitoring panel of all trackers (or “trackers”) that you have blocked.
The ability to find out the trackers of the sites you access is useful because this monitoring is not always noticeable. In some cases, pages use the technique to find out what content you see frequently and how much time you have spent on a particular item, for example.
6. Hotspot Shield
All previous options on the list revolve around the idea of preventing sites from monitoring their Internet habits by blocking tracking techniques. In this sense, Hotspot Shield can be a complementary option for any of them, as it offers a free VPN service with a daily limit of 500 MB. Anyone can subscribe to the service to have unlimited VPN, in addition to additional functions, such as use on five devices and encryption ($11.99 per month).
VPNs work as an intermediate point in your navigation, connecting you to a service’s own server before directing your browser to the page you are visiting. This bypass makes your request appear to have left the destination site somewhere else in the world, under another IP address. Thus, the task of tracking your navigation becomes much more difficult.