These days, many browsers come with libraries of extensions or plugins for you to install on top of the default application. The size of these libraries varies greatly, but the largest one by far is Chrome’s. You can add plugins to Google Chrome that perform a variety of tasks, but for this article we’ll be focusing specifically on the best browser security extensions.
This is because Chrome (read our Google Chrome review) is by far the most popular browser in the world, with somewhere between 45 and 70 percent of desktop users favoring Chrome, depending on what source you get your statistics from.
Furthermore, Chrome extensions are, by and large, compatible with several other browsers that are based on Chromium, including Brave, Vivaldi and Opera.
Because of this, this article will focus largely on the best Google Chrome plugins. Although all extensions from the Chrome Web Store are compatible with Chrome itself, whether or not they work with browsers derived from Chromium (read our Chromium review) is more hit-and-miss. Generally the only way to find out if it works is to test it out, which we’ve done.
What Makes the Best Web Browser Security Extension?
This is a tough question, as security is a wide category that covers all sorts of extensions. Ad-blockers are probably the most vital, as ads are a common vector for malware, and an ad-blocker usually performs other security and privacy functions, such as script-blocking and tracking protection.
Although some browsers come with this functionality built in (as you can see on our most secure web browser ranking), these are usually not as good as dedicated extensions.
Speaking of privacy, it’s important to distinguish this concept from that of security. While they may seem similar on the surface, the two are often — but not always — in direct contradiction to each other, as better security often entails a loss of privacy.
Thus, for this article we will be focusing purely on security features, which rules out some popular privacy extensions, such as Ghostery or Privacy Badger.
Moving on, password managers are another kind of extension that is incredibly useful for security. While most browsers protect your stored passwords using system credentials or a master password, this is not a suitable replacement for a dedicated password manager.
Furthermore, password managers also allow you to create incredibly complex passwords that are different for each website without having to worry about remembering them all.
The difference between HTTP and HTTPS is another core concept of browser security. Unlike HTTPS, standard HTTP connections are not encrypted, which means that your browsing traffic can be manipulated in all sorts of ways, from simple data collection to injecting malware directly into the code. Thus, extensions that force websites to default to HTTPS are incredibly useful.
Many browsers use secure browsing databases — such as Google Safe Browsing — to block you from accessing malicious websites that may infect your machine with malware or entice you into phishing schemes.
If you want additional protection, though, you’ll want to look for a piece of antivirus software that offers an extension, as these will do an even better job of keeping you safe from what lurks in the dark corners of the internet.
Finally, installing a VPN extension greatly improves your security while browsing the web. Besides the anonymity a VPN confers, it also encrypts your traffic, which protects you from malware injection and other cybercrime in a major way.
However, given all the options for a great Chrome VPN extension, we cover these separately in our best VPN for Chrome ranking.
uBlock Origin is an ad-blocker, and an excellent one at that. It does its main task — blocking ads — wonderfully and provides you with a host of other security features, to boot. For example, you can make it block scripts, pop-ups, remotely loaded fonts and large media elements, such as videos.
By default, uBlock Origin comes with thousands of predefined rules and filters that block anything from ads to malicious websites, annoying website elements, trackers and more. You can also set up your own custom filters, which gives you a large degree of control.
Besides Google Chrome and Chromium, uBlock Origin is compatible with all the other Chromium-based browsers we tested it on, namely Opera, Vivaldi and Brave (read our Brave review).
It should be noted that the add-on branched into two separate applications called uBlock and uBlock Origin back in 2015, and the former is nowhere near as good as the latter.
Although DashLane was the winner in our Dashlane vs. LastPass comparison and is our pick for the best password manager, it ends up in the honorable mentions here while LastPass enjoys a spot on the main list.
Although this might seem inconsistent at first glance, in this article we are looking exclusively at browser extensions and ignoring the native desktop applications. Because LastPass doesn’t really offer a stand-alone desktop application, this means that all of its features are included in the Chrome extension.
LastPass is an excellent password manager with a great free plan, as we covered in our LastPass review. The password manager is available on Brave, Vivaldi and Opera (read our Opera review), in addition to Google’s browsers, but you can’t import your already saved passwords from Brave or Vivaldi.
In contrast, using LastPass with Chrome or Opera lets you import your existing passwords without having to manually export them first.
Besides keeping track of all your passwords, LastPass also lets you securely store notes, payment cards, bank accounts and addresses. All these items can be found in your vault, and LastPass also lets you create folders to organize them.
You can add attachments to every item, and although logins are always protected by your master password, you can turn this on and off for other item types.
There’s a built-in password generator that creates unique secure passwords for each new service or website you register for. The generator gives you several settings to adjust, letting you set the max length and whether or not to include numbers, symbols and uppercase letters, as well as settings to make the password easy to read or easy to say.
You can also use the sharing center to share notes or give someone else access to one of your accounts, without having to give them the actual password. Unfortunately, you need to subscribe to the “premium” or “families” plan to access this feature.
HTTPS Everywhere is a simple security extension that does exactly what it says on the tin. Whenever you connect to a website over an unsecure connection — meaning regular HTTP — the extension checks if the website offers an HTTPS connection and forces it to use that instead.
While many websites now default to HTTPS, there are still a surprising number of them that don’t. As we mentioned earlier in this article, if you’re using a regular HTTP connection, your traffic is vulnerable to all sorts of manipulation, ranging from simple eavesdropping to the delivery of malware to your device.
Although HTTPS Everywhere won’t help you with websites that don’t offer secure connections at all, this is an increasingly rare thing to encounter. If you do want the extra security, though, you can also enable “encrypt all sites,” which will automatically block any unencrypted requests to your browser.
The extension comes preinstalled with many popular browsers, such as Brave and Tenta (read our Tenta review), and the version available on the Google Chrome Store is compatible with Opera and Vivaldi, as well as the standard Chrome and Chromium.
However, NoScript gives you a much greater degree of control over the blocking than the built-in setting generally does, and this makes it very useful.
The extension sets up three categories: default, trusted and untrusted. For each one, you can choose what elements you want blocked, including scripts, objects, media, frames that display other webpages, remote fonts, WebGL elements and requests to third-party APIs.
If you don’t set any site permissions yourself, most websites will fall under “default,” which blocks everything except frames and remote APIs.
A list of websites is automatically included in the “trusted” category, for which nothing is blocked. Finally, you can manually add sites to the untrusted category, which by default blocks everything mentioned above. Of course, exactly what is blocked in these categories can be tweaked and changed, giving you a lot of direct control over the process.
NoScript is compatible with all the Chromium browsers we tested it on, obviously including Google Chrome and Chromium, but also Brave, Opera and Vivaldi (read our Vivaldi review).
Although you should definitely have one of the best antivirus software installed to ensure your device is protected, if all you do with your computer is browse the internet, an antivirus extension will go a long way toward ensuring you’re safe.
Malware, phishing schemes and other cybercrime are all risks we face when going online, and although most browsers have safe browsing databases, these aren’t always enough.
Avast Online Security scans your search results and the websites you visit for malware, then warns you. When searching, each result is marked with an icon to tell users whether the webpage it links to is safe or not.
If you attempt to visit a website with malware embedded in its code, Avast will block your request and inform you that the website you’re trying to visit is unsafe, sparing you from a potential malware infection of your device.
If you want to override the extension’s judgement (though we advise against it), you can tell it to trust specific sites or domains, circumventing the block.
Avast also blocks trackers, which is a nice bonus for privacy, even if it doesn’t really affect your security. During testing, we got Avast to work with all three Chromium-based browsers with ease, requiring no more setup than it did for Google Chrome or Chromium.
If you install all five — or even just a couple — of the extensions listed above, your security will be more than strong enough in the vast majority of cases. However, if you dislike our recommendations for the best security extensions for Chrome, we’ve put together some honorable mentions that can serve as perfectly adequate alternatives.
Despite being our top pick for the best password manager overall, Dashlane’s Chrome extension is lacking many of the advanced features that allowed it to rise to the top of our password manager ranking.
For example, you need to manually export and import your passwords already stored in Chrome (for which you can follow our guide on how to export and import Chrome bookmarks).
That said, Dashlane is still an excellent security extension and easily performs all the tasks you’d expect from a password manager while being compatible with all the Chromium-based browsers we tested it on (Vivaldi, Brave and Opera). As always, check out our Dashlane review for the full picture.
AdBlock Plus is the most popular ad-blocking extension for Chromium browsers, and although we didn’t include it in our top five, it’s still a decent choice for this task.
The main problem with AdBlock Plus is that it doesn’t block all ads, as some companies pay them a fee to whitelist their ads. This is a pretty serious concern, since the only reason anyone installs the extension to begin with is to block ads.
AdBlock Plus also comes with fewer filter lists built in than uBlock Origin, as well as fewer options and settings. However, the UI is significantly easier to use, which is its sole advantage. Like uBlock Origin, AdBlock Plus is compatible with Brave, Opera and Vivaldi.
ScriptSafe is an alternative script blocker to NoScript. Although it allows much of the same functionality — such as grouping websites into different trust levels with different settings — we found that in our tests it was not quite as effective at blocking various website elements as NoScript was.
That said, it’s still a perfectly decent choice for script blocking, and it comes with a more pleasant user interface, to boot.
As with all of the extensions listed in this article, ScriptSafe is compatible with Brave, Opera and Vivaldi, in addition to the default Chrome and Chromium.
With that, we conclude our list of the best security extensions. Because the term “security extension” covers so many different things, these five options aren’t necessarily in order, seeing as they all fill different roles.
That said, their order is based on how crucial they are to security, with an ad-blocker and a password manager being the two most important.
At the end of the day, if you’re just going to install one security extension, it should definitely be an ad-blocker, as the functionality included in something like uBlock Origin will go a long way toward ensuring you’re protected when browsing the internet.
Although downloading all five will ensure maximum protection, there is some overlap in their functionality, so picking a couple of them will probably be sufficient, unless you’re particularly concerned with browser security. What security browser security extensions do you use? Did we miss one you like? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.