These days, you do pretty much everything in your web browser. You can search the Internet, go shopping, check your finances, and watch your favorite media from the comfort of your browser of choice. Whether you’re a fan of Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Google Chrome, there’s a good chance that you utilize at least one or two web extensions to enhance your browsing experience. However, with so many unauthorized extensions floating around, is it possible that they are doing more harm than good? Today, we’ll answer the question: Are browser extensions harming your device?    

The Benefits of Browser Extensions

Browser extensions are tools that can enhance your online browsing. Depending on the extension, these plug-ins can increase your productivity, improve your Internet privacy, help you save money on purchases, or give you a more entertaining online experience. They are easy to install and normally only take a few minutes to integrate with your browser. 

Some of the most popular browser extensions are:

  • Grammarly
  • LastPass
  • Evernote
  • Honey
  • uBlock Origin
  • 1Password
  • Todoist
  • Google Translate

In order for a browser extension to work, you need to grant it permission to read and change the information available on the web pages that you visit. For example, Google Chrome extensions require users to allow them to read and change the data on EVERY web page that they visit. Unfortunately, this information isn’t revealed to the user until they are actively installing the plug-in. 

This means that most users will likely not read the necessary permissions that these extensions are asking for, which can put a lot of people at risk if the extension isn’t trustworthy. It opens up a backdoor for threats like malware, adware, and spyware. 

The Risks of Browser Extensions

There is a persistent issue involving browser extensions that mask themselves as plug-ins for use with common tools like Microsoft Office or Google Drive. These extensions are created by cybercriminals and are used to spread dangerous malware among unsuspecting users. After a user adds them to their web browser, these extensions can steal funds, obtain passwords, track online activity, and infect devices before a user even has a chance to identify a problem. 

One way to avoid this risk is to download extensions directly from an official online storefront rather than from an unfamiliar site or extension page. Another option is to conduct additional research about each extension before installing it. Read up on the individual privacy settings for each extension, check out recent reviews, or do a quick Google search to ensure that no other users have reported problems after installing it. 

Unfortunately, many users across the world who lack computer literacy are likely to add an extension to their browser without thinking twice about whether or not it’s safe to use. Some extensions can present themselves as trustworthy and reputable plug-ins when, in fact, they are installing dangerous software from the moment they are added to a new device. This deception and a lack of general Internet safety can make protecting a device difficult if users aren’t careful. 

Are Browser Extensions Harming Your Device?

When you notice that your device is behaving differently, you may start to suspect malware or another potential risk to your privacy. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should check your device for malware and remove any recent browser extensions that you’ve installed:

  • Performance Issues: Is your device running noticeably slower, or is it experiencing frequent crashes after a new browser extension has been installed? This may be a sign of a dangerous extension that needs to be removed immediately. 
  • Invasive Pop-Ups, Notifications, or Redirects: If you begin to notice an increase in pop-up advertisements, or if your web browser continuously redirects you to different websites, it could mean that your new extension is putting your device at risk.
  • Updated Browser Settings: Have you noticed a new default search engine, a new homepage, or new toolbars embedded in your browser? This can be another sign of a dangerous extension.
  • Mysterious Memory Usage: Be sure to check the task manager on your device to see if your web browser is consuming excessive CPU or memory, as this can indicate that malicious extensions are running background processes.
  • Antivirus or Anti-Malware Alerts: If you have antivirus or anti-malware software on your device and you notice that your newest extension is being flagged as malicious, it’s important to remove it right away.

Using a VPN to Protect Your Browser

If your goal is to keep your device safe from potential risks presented by dangerous browser extensions, you need a VPN. A VPN is a Virtual Private Network that encrypts your online activity through a secure server and adds a layer of ongoing protection to your browsing. It acts as a shield that masks your data from anyone who might be attempting to view it without your permission. 

Using a VPN is a great way to ensure that your device is safe because it hides your IP address and your browsing history from prying eyes. With a VPN on your device, whether it’s a smartphone, computer, tablet, or smart TV, you have an added layer of protection that makes it much harder for cybercriminals to access your private information.  

Some VPNs, like PrivadoVPN, offer a built-in malware blocker that helps mitigate potential risks from browser extensions that may contain dangerous malware. Using a VPN with a malware blocker is a great way to guarantee that your device remains safe, private, and protected.

Using a Premium VPN for Advanced Security 

It’s essential to ensure that your private information remains secure, especially with so many new online threats floating around the Internet. That’s where PrivadoVPN comes in. 

PrivadoVPN offers a full security suite of high-quality protection for all of your devices. It allows you to create up to 10 active connections so you can secure everyone in your home. With built-in malware protection, an ad-blocker, and parental controls, you can enjoy more dependable security and privacy no matter where you are or what you’re doing. 

Get started with PrivadoVPN today!

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