The Best Browser Extensions for Privacy and Security 2023

We’ll show you the benefits of different browser extensions for your privacy and security, including VPNs, password managers, and more.
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Do you remember the commercial that told us, “There’s an app for that”? Browser extensions are similar to apps because they give you more ways to enhance your browsing experience. There are also many extensions that can be used as privacy tools, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and password managers.

We’ll cover various types of browser extensions, including VPNs, antivirus, and even free services that can help you maintain your privacy and security online.

In this article
How to add extensions to your browser
Best VPN extensions
Best password manager extensions
Best ad and tracker blocker extensions
Best antivirus extensions
Best free extensions
FAQs on browser extensions for privacy and security
Bottom line

How to add extensions to your browser

Before we cover the best privacy extensions, you should learn how to add them to your current web browser. Of course, these steps may vary depending on the browser, but there are some basic steps.

For this example, let’s say you want to add the best Chrome extensions for privacy. Here’s how easy it is to get up and running:

  1. Open the Chrome Web Store.
  2. Look for the Chrome privacy extension you want.
  3. Click Add to Chrome. If the extension asks for permission, grant it.
  4. Click Add extension.

That’s how simple adding an extension is for most browsers. You may need to adjust your privacy settings to give the browser access, but that’s not a hassle and only takes a few seconds.

Best VPN extensions

If you use a VPN or are interested in incorporating one into your online security arsenal, we have some recommendations for browser use. A VPN is designed to give you a secure and private internet connection and hide your IP address. Many people who travel use VPNs because they help ensure hackers cannot access their information.

Even if you don’t travel, a VPN is good protection for your home network or when you use public Wi-Fi. Since public networks are not secure, a VPN can mask your internet traffic. We’ve gathered a few of the best VPN browser extensions for your consideration.


With NordVPN, you get a high-security level and fast internet connection speeds. It uses AES 256-bit encryption to keep all your information secure. If you’re looking for an interface that’s easy to use but still includes lots of features, NordVPN won’t disappoint. You’ll get access to a large network with over 5,000 servers, and it works with popular streaming platforms like Netflix.

NordVPN also has a no-logs policy, which means it won’t save information that’s communicated while you’re online. There’s no need to be concerned with compatibility either, as this VPN has extensions that work with almost any browser, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

However, Nord offers several plans but no free option. Although the subscriptions show prices per month, to get the lowest monthly price, you must pay for one year of service in advance, which could be steep for some users. If price is a concern, other providers like Surfshark may be a better choice.

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On NordVPN's website

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ExpressVPN is a popular VPN that offers fast speeds and an intuitive interface. It also works with different streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. ExpressVPN has an audited no-logs policy that many security-conscious users demand. There’s no shortage of compatibility options here, as ExpressVPN even has browser support for Chrome and Firefox.

The downside to ExpressVPN is that it’s a little pricey. Plans start at $6.67/mo, which is more than Nord and Surfshark. It’s also missing a few of the features we’d like to have, like malware and antivirus protection.

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You’ll get a quality VPN with Surfshark. It’s secure, thanks to features like a kill switch, and comes with extras like smart DNS. A kill switch is a nice plus that allows you to disconnect your device if your VPN connection drops. A smart DNS lets you access content that may not be available in your area. It also offers an unlimited number of device connections and is compatible with numerous browsers, like Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.

If you want Surfshark’s antivirus and threat monitoring add-ons, you’ll have to pay an additional fee. We must also mention that Surfshark is also headquartered in the Nine Eyes alliance territory. These are countries that have agreed to share information with each other, meaning that some of your internet activity may be tracked and recorded for their use.

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On Surfshark's website

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Best password manager extensions

If you’ve never used a password manager, you may be missing out on important data security. A password manager can store your login credentials securely while keeping a record of your usernames and passwords. Many also store credit card numbers and bank account data. Password managers are good for cybersecurity because most use encrypted storage to prevent hackers from gaining access to your data and threatening your online safety.


1Password is one of the most popular password managers. It includes two-factor authentication for more data security. 1Password is feature-rich, including a password generator, form filler, and digital legacy. It works with common browser types, like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, and Brave. If you opt for 1Password, you can use the password-sharing feature on unlimited devices.

However, you won’t find a free version of this product. Another caveat of 1Password is that it doesn’t have a refund policy if you decide this isn’t the password manager for you.

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On 1Password's website

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Dashlane has a free version and paid-tier plans. If you get the free version, you’ll have access to autofill and password sharing. With a paid subscription, you get the benefit of Dashlane’s VPN and dark web monitoring.

Dashlane’s only drawbacks may be the confusing privacy policy and customer support. The policy explains that some personal data is shared with affiliates, but it’s not crystal clear what that means for users. The customer support has a help section, but not much more. You won’t find a help desk rep to talk to, as Dashlane doesn’t offer phone support. Still, the password manager comes with a tutorial, and the interface is easy to navigate.

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On Dashlane's website

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This password manager works with almost any browser. User data is stored in one vault to keep everything private and secure. Like some other options, Keeper will allow you to store credit card and banking information. It also comes with a security audit feature that shows you if the software considers your password strong enough.

If you’re looking for the downside to this software, it may take some time to learn how to use the interface. Also, the autofill extensions may not always work, and that can be a drag if you’re in a hurry. The pricing is reasonable, though, starting at $2.92/mo for the one-user plan.

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On Keeper's website

Get Keeper | Read Keeper Review

Best ad and tracker blocker extensions

Have you ever wanted to browse the internet anonymously? You might like to rid yourself of those intrusive ads that seem to pop up out of nowhere. Ad and tracker blocking tools can get rid of those ads as well as protect your online privacy.

Total Adblock

With Total Adblock, you get plenty of features, like security from malicious websites and unwanted ad blocking. The software also lets you manage trusted websites and whitelist sites you want to support. It’s compatible with some of the most frequently used web browsers, like Chrome, Edge, and Firefox, and has an option for iOS and Android devices.

The free version of Total Adblock excludes the top 15,000 websites, so that may not help you block many ads. While using the free version, some users reported frequent pop-ups encouraging an upgrade to the Premium plan, which can be annoying.

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The AdGuard extension works on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. It also works on multiple platforms, so compatibility is not an issue. If you want a modern interface with software that focuses on private data security, AdGuard is a top product. It also works well for blocking intrusive ads on YouTube and Facebook.

AdGuard has browser compatibility with Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Brave, and Yandex.Browser. However, you must use the desktop app rather than the extension to get the most functionality out of the product. This might make some hesitant to download the extension. For instance, if you want faster page loading times, you’ll need the desktop app. The AdGuard welcome page also mentions partial functionality from the extension, which isn’t encouraging.

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uBlock Origin

If you’ve ever watched your web browser begin to drag, you know the frustrations of many users. It happens often, especially when numerous tabs are open. We like uBlock Origin because it is designed to give you optimized memory and CPU power usage. That’s a feature many want because it allows for faster page loading time and easier, smoother scrolling.

If that isn’t enough, it’s also promoted as a “wide-spectrum content blocker,” which means it has plenty of features to make you happy but won’t overwhelm you while it does so. You can download uBlock Origin for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera for free.

If there’s anything negative to report, it might be that uBlock Origin could potentially interrupt other security extensions. It is open-source software, so some features require technical knowledge that all users may not possess. We have to give the designers credit, though. These areas will indicate that they’re only suitable for technical users, so you know before you go!

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On uBlock Origin's website

Get uBlock Origin | Read uBlock Origin Review

Best antivirus extensions

If you don’t use an antivirus, what are you doing with your online life? In all seriousness, antivirus software has become a necessity, with over 450,000 new malware pieces detected every single day. You don’t want to take chances with your internet security, which means you want the best antivirus with the features you need most.

McAfee WebAdvisor

McAfee has been the tried and true standard for many years. You likely won’t find anyone who hasn’t heard of this antivirus. The browser extension, McAfee WebAdvisor, also comes with antivirus software and gives you extra browsing security. It blocks malware and phishing sites to give you more peace of mind while online. If you don’t want to purchase an entire antivirus suite, that’s not a problem. You can download McAfee WebAdvisor for free.

One aggravating issue we found with McAfee antivirus was the multiple pop-ups showing while we were online, encouraging us to use text notifications. The included VPN also tops out at 500 MB of data per month if you don’t choose to set up the auto-renewal feature.

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On McAfee's website

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Norton Safe Web

Since the internet is a sea of online possibilities, it also includes too many online threats to name, such as malicious websites, computer viruses, and spyware. All Norton plans with device security come with Norton Safe Web, a phishing protection browser extension that will let you know how safe a website might be before you even access it. The browser extension analyzes sites you visit to provide you with safety ratings.

Norton Safe Web also comes with online banking protection and phishing protection. It’s compatible with Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. One problem we might mention is that if you’re using Norton antivirus, some features aren’t compatible with macOS. So, if you’re using Safari, you won’t be able to work with the Norton Safe Web extension.

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On Norton 360 Antivirus's website

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Bitdefender Traffic Light

Made by the popular Bitdefender antivirus, Traffic Light is a browser extension that provides extra security while online. It’s a free extension that blocks malicious website pages and phishing attempts. It also identifies trackers so you can be aware of those pesky websites trying to keep tabs on your online activities. Bitdefender Traffic Light works with multiple browsers, like Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox.

You’ll get simple interface tools that won’t impact device performance. It also scored well in third-party testing. But if you want more premium Bitdefender features, you’ll need to pay for them.

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On Bitdefender's website

Get Bitdefender Traffic Light | Read Bitdefender Total Security Review

Best free extensions

If you’re on a budget and don’t want to buy a browser extension, you’re in luck. Some free products are still good at protecting your web browsing. These options prove that the best ad blockers don’t always come with a hefty price tag.

Adblock Plus

Adblock Plus is an ad blocker that is compatible with most platforms, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, and Opera. It also works with iOS. Adblock Plus helps speed up page loads because you won’t have the annoying ads to bog the browser down. You’ll also get a whitelisting feature so you can still support the websites you enjoy while blocking ads from other sites.

A potential issue some users have with Adblock Plus is that you need a paid subscription to block videos and not receive survey requests. There are also fewer features for Safari.

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On Adblock Plus's website

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Ghostery will prevent websites from tracking your online adventures. It won the 2018 SXSW Interactive Innovation Award for Privacy & Security because of its high ratings.

Ghostery comes with whitelisting and blacklisting options so you can support your favorite creators and block websites you deem unsafe. You can use Ghostery on most platforms, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Edge. It also has an app extension for iOS and Android devices.

You may want to be cautious when using the extension with Safari, as the performance may be weaker than with other browsers. It’s also not available on Chrome for Android. Otherwise, you get plenty of features for free with this browser extension.

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On Ghostery's website

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Many Mac users find that security products either don’t work well for Apple devices or leave certain features exclusive to Windows. 1Blocker is an ad blocker for macOS and iOS, which is appealing to Apple fans. You can customize what kinds of ads, widgets, and comments you see when you’re online. It was built exclusively for Safari and includes a firewall. It’s also fantastic for parents because you can even block adult sites.

The only downside to 1Blocker may be that there are no smart toggles for Safari on iOS, and some app functions didn’t work as well using the ad blocker when we tested it.

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On 1Blocker's website

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FAQs on browser extensions for privacy and security


What is the best Chrome extension to stop tracking?

AdLock is a good Chrome extension that is best for stopping social media trackers. That keeps various media types from following your internet usage and creating profiles of your online habits.


Can Chrome extensions be tracked?

By using fingerprinting, you can be tracked online when using a Chrome browser extension. Fingerprinting is the process of learning what makes your device unique and then using that information to identify your internet movements.


Are there unsafe extensions for Chrome?

There are always risks associated with using Chrome extensions. As with any other software, some products are unsafe. Reading reviews helps determine if the software is safe and if other users have had any issues with the product.


How do I optimize Google for maximum privacy?

You can optimize Google for maximum privacy by adjusting your privacy settings. In Chrome, these are under your Settings tab, and you can clear browsing data and change browsing traffic so that it doesn't track your online history.

Bottom line

By now, you see there are numerous extensions available to keep your data private and secure while you’re online, including VPNs, password managers, ad and tracker blockers, and antivirus. The challenge is deciding which browser extensions you may want to try first, but you can't go wrong with any of the options on this list. 

If you want to dive deeper into VPNs for browsers, you can read up on the best VPNs for Google Chrome.

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Author Details
Patti Croft is a freelance writer who specializes in all things technology. Her expertise includes antivirus software, online security strategies, and safety practices. She has a degree in Computer Information Systems and extensive experience working in the IT field. In her spare time, Patti is an avid reader and researcher, and loves spending time with her pets. She currently shares an office with her cat, Beau.