Thursday, 9 March 2017

Best Add-Ons For Anonymity

Best Add-Ons For Anonymity

Lots of browser add-ons claim to keep you anonymous online, but many are ineffective. Here, we pick the nine tools you need to guarantee your privacy


Most browsers now have a private mode, which stops details of the sites you visit and the things you search for being saved to your PC, but this doesn’t make you anonymous online. A better way to shield what you’re doing is to use AnonTab, which is a cross between the popular add-ons NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere (see below).

This useful tool lets you open a web page in a secure and private environment, masking your IP address, blocking scripts and encrypting all incoming and outgoing connections. Not only does this prevent your data from being leaked and your activities monitored, it also safeguards you against malware infection.

To use AnonTab, simply right-click a link and choose ‘Open Link in AnonTab’ to view the page securely in a new tab. You can also click its toolbar button and type a URL to open it in a safe environment.

Note that although AnonTab works with Chromium browsers, it isn’t available from the Chrome Web Store.

Privacy Badger

We’ve recommended Privacy Badger so often that you probably already use it to block hidden trackers and spying ads as you browse the web. Even so, it’s worth us bigging up the Badger again because its developer, EFF, recently added several useful new features. For example, you can now prevent WebRTC technology from leaking your IP address when you make audio and video calls; transfer your anti-tracking preferences to another browser; and use the extension in incognito/private mode, so your data is protected both online and off. Unlike similar tools, Privacy Badger gives you total control over which trackers are blocked and allowed, with a handy colourcoded system that shows what’s safe and what’s not. An Edge version of the add-on is reportedly in the works.


While we were writing this feature, news came that this popular privacy tool had been acquired by a German company called Cliqz (, which promises to take the add-on’s anti-tracking technology to a “completely new level”. In the meantime, it’s still worth installing Ghostery, if you haven’t already, because its latest version is the best yet.

As we explained in our workshop in Issue 409 (, Ghostery 7 colour-codes trackers into categories such as advertising, analytics, social media and ‘essential’, so you can decide precisely which types of spy to block. Further data tells you if a tracker is likely to slow your browser, stop a page loading properly or leak personal information on a supposedly secure site, and you can block and unblock all or individual pests with a single click.

If you’d like to see how Cliqz plans to make Ghostery even better, join the public beta at

HTTPS Everywhere

Any website worth its salt should use HTTPS to encrypt its traffic and protect its users’ data. Sadly, many don’t bother and either default to their unsecure HTTP versions or use a combination of encrypted and unencrypted pages. You can ensure you always get the safest connection possible by installing this excellent tool from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF,, which forces thousands of sites to use HTTPS, whether they like it or not. HTTPS Everywhere works automatically and is regularly updated with new ‘rules’ to keep you safe from online surveillance and account hijacking. You can create your own rules so that specific sites always use their encrypted versions, and block all unencrypted requests.


Bad Ad Johnny

If you’ve heard of Adblock Plus (, you’ll probably be aware that it allows ‘acceptable’ ads on websites that pay to be whitelisted. This controversial policy, coupled with excessive memory usage, has made many users switch to alternative ad blockers, of which these two are our current favourites.

AdNauseum strikes a compromise between blocking annoying adverts and depriving small websites (which can’t afford to pay Adblock Plus) of the revenue they need to survive. When it filters ads (it’s based on uBlock Origin), it also clicks them in the background, so the sites still get paid by the advertising networks. To stop companies using those clicks to track you, AdNauseum “obfuscates” the data, rendering their targeting and surveillance futile.

PureVPN’s Bad Ad Johnny extension takes a tougher approach by blocking all adverts on all websites, regardless of whether they’re acceptable or not. It’s very light on resources and its hard-line stance against ads and trackers is tempered by the options to disable it on specific sites and only target certain elements rather than everything on a page. Bad Ad Johnny will soon be available for Firefox, Opera and Safari.

Hotspot Shield Free VPN Proxy

There’s something slightly suspicious about browserextension VPNs – after all, why would companies with paid-for Desktop programs make things free and easy for you? However, Hotspot Shield’s add-on for Chrome and Firefox offers everything you need from a VPN in terms of security and speed, but without the need to download any software.

You can pretend to be in nine different countries, including Canada, Germany and Spain; bookmark your favourite sites for easy access; and connect and disconnect with a single click. You need to pay to unlock the US and UK options, so it’s not ideal for accessing restricted content, and you get nagged to upgrade to the Elite version – including a seven-day free trial. But if your main objectives are to hide who and where you are, and what you’re doing, this extension performs brilliantly.

Fake Data

Fake Name Generator Panel

What’s in a name? An alarming amount when you share you real moniker online, especially when combined with your real email address and phone number. Rather than signing up with websites using your genuine details, you can maintain your anonymity via Fake Data. This Chrome extension fills in registration forms with bogus but real-looking info, without you needing to type anything. Simply right-click a text box - be it a first or last name, email or postal address, phone number, company name or location - and choose the relevant option from Fake Data’s side menu. By default, the extension is set to use US data, but you can change this to ‘en_GB’ in its Options.

For Firefox, it’s worth installing Fake Name Generator Panel, which provides you with instant fake identities – including postcodes, email addresses, birthdays, jobs and card numbers – so you can safeguard your genuine details.