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How to install extensions safely and avoid problems

What happens if I install insecure browser add-ons

The extensions for browsers they serve to have certain additional functions. We can install them in the most used like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. For example, they serve to group tabs, optimize the browser, save sites that interest us, etc.

The problem comes when we install an add-on that is a scam. In the first place, this can cause them to strain us adware in the browser. We can see this if we see many advertising pop-up windows when we browse or that we suddenly have search bars that we have not installed.

But they could also use them to spy on us. An insecure extension could be collecting personal data when we browse the Internet. For example, it could know which pages we visit or even steal the password when we log in to sites like Facebook, Twitter, in the mail …

What to do to install secure extensions

We must make sure to install plugins that are safe. Now, what should we take into account? We are going to give some essential tips to install extensions in Chrome or Firefox in a safe way and that they cannot steal our data or affect performance.

There usually fraudulent extensions related to widely used programs or services. For example, some such as Video Downloader for Facebook, DM for Instagram or Spotify Music Downloader have been some false and dangerous add-ons that have affected Chrome or Firefox.

Always from official sources

The first thing to keep in mind is that we always have to install these types of add-ons from sites that are safe and official. It is the same as if we install any program on our computer or mobile. Make sure that the source is not dangerous.

In the case of extensions, the ideal is to go to the official store from Chrome or Firefox and add them from there. We must not install them from third-party sites that we come across, as they could be fraud.

Check that they are up to date

Is it so updated the extensions that we are going to install? This is also important. It is not advisable to install add-ons that have not been updated for a long time or that have even become obsolete and are not used by anyone.

They could have vulnerabilities that have not been fixed and therefore hackers can exploit. This could cause us to install a plug-in that is legitimate on its own, that might even work fine, but that such bugs would be a danger. For example, in the image below we can see the update date of the HTTPS Everywhere extension for Chrome.

Verify the use they have and information

Another issue to take into account is to verify well how useful is that extension. When we are going to install it, we should see the information about what it is for, how it could affect our data, if it needs special permissions, etc.

This would also prevent us from certain problems especially related to privacy. If, for example, we install an extension to save the pages that we are interested in reading later, it could ask us for permission to know what we visit and share it with third parties.

A very revealing fact is to look at the information on the amount of downloads and rating. This can give us a clue as to whether it is a reliable complement that many people use or, on the contrary, there are already other users who warn us that there is something strange.

Have the browser updated

Of course, before installing any add-on, make sure that the browser is also updated. This will avoid many performance problems as well as security flaws that could compromise us.

Normally the browser updates automatically when a new version appears, but it is always advisable to review it because sometimes problems arise and it is not completed. In the case of Google Chrome we have to go to the menu, enter Help, click on Google Chrome Information and the version that is installed will appear, and in case of a more recent one we can add it.

Update Google Chrome

Have security programs that detect problems

But security must also be seen as something general. It is therefore essential to always have a good antivirus in our team. For example Windows Defender, which is the one that is integrated into Windows 10, as well as other options such as Avast, Bitdefender, Kaspersky …

These applications will help us detect anything dangerous that we can install. If by some error we have downloaded a dangerous extension, the antivirus could detect it and send us the alert.

How to know if I have a malicious extension

Once we have seen how to install safe extensions, the question may arise as to what we can do to find out if the ones we already have installed are dangerous or not. This will help us to remove any add-ons that are risky and may also affect the performance of the browser as soon as possible.

Check the origin

A very interesting method to see if that extension that we have installed and that we do not know if it is reliable or not, is to check its source. We can easily see this. To do this we have to go to the menu, enter More tools and click on Extensions. In both Chrome and Firefox it is similar.

Once inside, it will show us the different add-ons that we have installed. We must open the one that interests us and, at the bottom, it will show us the origin. This will allow us to know if we have installed that extension from the official store or it has been by other means that could be a danger.

View source of an extension

Check permissions

We can do something similar with permissions of that extension. We have to follow the same procedure and, this time, look at the permissions that this add-on has requested. It may not require anything, but on other occasions you have been able to request access to certain information.

This is especially going to put our privacy at risk. If we install an extension that asks us for permission to read the browsing history, for example, it could be a danger. Not only if that plugin is insecure, but even a legitimate one that at any given time has some uncorrected vulnerability.

Find information for that extension

Of course, we will always have the option of looking for information about that complement on the Internet. We just have to look up the full name and inform us of whether it really can be a danger or is it something legitimate that we can trust.

Normally we will find information from other users, ratings, etc. This will help us collect data in case we have questions about a specific extension.

Scan with an antivirus

On the other hand, an antivirus can also help us to know if an installed extension is safe or not. In case we have recently installed an add-on that raises questions, we can always use our antivirus and scan to see if it detects something wrong.

These types of security programs are essential to prevent attacks, but also to analyze programs or files that we already have on our computer and that could be a threat.

Therefore, we can say that it is very important to install extensions safely. We have seen how it could affect us and what we can do in case of doubts. The objective is that our browser is not compromised at any time and that personal data is safe.

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