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The best security and privacy extensions for Chrome

You'll want at least one of these to be reasonably secure online.
By

Published onOctober 24, 2023

Google Pixelbook showing Chrome browser in tablet mode
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Google likes to tout Chrome’s cybersecurity measures, but let’s face it — the browser isn’t comprehensive on its own, and some of the gaps are intentional so the company and its partners can continue to make ad revenue. If you want to close a few of these holes, check out the Chrome extensions below. Note that these only work in the desktop app, not the mobile one.

The best security and privacy extensions for Chrome

This list will probably grow over time, since of course there are a lot of ways to tackle security and privacy. As a rule, we’re going to focus on the most broadly applicable extensions — something with military-grade security, for instance, would be overkill for someone who just wants to cut out intrusive pop-up ads. Remember also that you should avoid installing multiple extensions that serve the same purpose — there’s no sense running uBlock and AdBlock at the same time, for example.

uBlock Origin

People tend to default to AdBlock Plus when they’re hunting for Chrome ad blockers, but honestly, we feel uBlock is underrated. It’s completely free and open-source, and as its creator insists, it’s not just about ads — the extension can block tracking, malicious URLs, JavaScript, and even things like overlays or cookie warnings. It’s just a question of enabling the filters you need.

If you want to get into the weeds, there are some potentially complex settings options, but for general use it’s extremely simple. In fact if you want to whitelist (or blacklist) ads on a particular page, all you have to do is open the extension and click a giant “power” button.

AdBlock Plus

As mentioned, AdBlock Plus is practically synonymous with ad blockers, so there’s no way we’d leave it off this list. The extension automatically halts most banners, pop-ups, trackers, and video ads, and like uBlock, it allows whitelisting for sites you want to support financially. If you just want to block a specific aspect of a site, there’s a Block Element button.

We say it blocks “most” ad content because AdBlock Plus is a part of the Acceptable Ads initiative. That means that you may still see some ads on otherwise scrubbed sites, but these should be less intrusive, and you can opt out if you want to scrub everything. Remember that sites you like will lose out on your ad revenue.

DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials

DuckDuckGo is best known as a tracking-free search engine, and indeed, installing this extension prompts you to change your homepage and default search engine. That might be presumptuous, but the extension does block many web and email trackers, as well as cookies and fingerprinting attempts. That includes Google’s own technology, such as Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs). If you like, you can enforce secure HTTPS connections, and use the extension’s Global Privacy Control to automatically signal that you want opt out of selling or sharing personal data.

We should point out that DuckDuck Go has a private search ad partnership with Microsoft, so while the extension’s filters are normally pretty thorough, they won’t stop bat.bing.com requests from loading on an advertiser’s website if you click on one of those ads. The company insists that displayed ads are anonymous, and that Microsoft isn’t profiling ad clicks.

Malwarebytes Browser Guard

If you know Malwarebytes, it’s probably for their desktop antivirus software. Browser Guard serves a similar purpose for web content, blocking trackers and malicious websites. It’s also built to block intrusive ads however, and claims to be the world’s first extension that can identify and stop new tech support scams. If you have a relative who’s prone to being victimized by those scams, this extension should be an easy choice.

Click and Clean

Unlike the extensions above, Click and Clean doesn’t actively halt tracking. Instead it’s meant to quickly scrub your recorded history, including cookies, cached files, visited websites, and recent downloads. It’ll even purge client-side WebSQL databases, which were officially disabled (for non-enterprise purposes) in a September 2023 Chrome update. If you like you can control cookies to stay signed into sites like Gmail or Facebook, and actively backup your browsing history if you need it.

Something we appreciate is that the extension has separate single-click buttons for its core tasks, among them one that will wipe your history and close Chrome at the same time. There are disk cleanup and malware scanning tools, too, but honestly, you’re better off using dedicated apps for those tasks.