Browser extensions are programs that add a feature or perform a custom function during your browsing experience. This can include a wide number of tasks from organizing notes to removing pop-up ads, managing passwords, and turning off the autoplay of ad videos.
These extensions enhance our online activities. But is it safe to use, should we be careful in its use, and what is the right number to add.
How do browser extensions work?
Browser extensions have partial or full access to everything you do online, which means they can track your browsing, log passwords, and display personalized ads based on your browsing history.
However, browser extensions do not get full access automatically but rather the user gives them the necessary permissions. Most users tend to ignore the permissions that appear when installing extensions without understanding the implications.
Is it safe?
It depends on the type of accessory you are installing. But the biggest security risk posed by extensions comes from the permissions they get. Most modern web browsers have a permission system in place for extensions, and some use very few permissions to perform tasks. Some permissions for the extension may be executed only when the extension itself is clicked or launched via a specific website. But most extensions have permission to run across every site and full access to everything, which could turn it into a security nightmare.
Accessories risk your digital security
Here are some of the privacy and security concerns that extensions can raise:
Some of them can log your passwords and login details and keep track of everything you type, making them a huge threat to your sensitive data like credit card details and financial information.
While some malicious extensions can redirect search traffic to another place.
Some extensions download malware, adware, and viruses.
It collects pieces of information from your browsing history and sends it to third parties.
Most extensions update automatically, which means that a legitimate extension can be hacked and updated through your device without you even knowing.
As a result, there is no guarantee that the most secure browsers can protect your privacy when it comes to installing extensions.
In 2020, Google had to remove a total of 106 extensions from the Chrome Web Store in response to a report that they were being used to leak sensitive user data.
Ways to reduce the risk of accessories
Avoid Using Too Many Extensions: When it comes to browser extensions, you should only install the ones you need. Most browsers come with customizable features and do not need the previously popular plugins. Given that most extensions have become part of the browser itself, there is no need to add extensions that offer the same features.
Install extensions from trusted sources: It is important to install extensions from trusted sources and to avoid installing them from outside the official stores because there is no way to predict the type of exploit you might perform. An addon developed by an unknown source to customize popular services is dangerous. Hence it should be avoided as it may infect your device with malware.
Get rid of unused extensions: check all browser extensions regularly and delete those that are no longer needed. This way you reduce the risk of vulnerabilities that can be introduced through extensions. By deleting unnecessary extensions, you also help your browser to run better and faster and boost your operating system's performance.