Use a VPN App or a Browser Extension/Plugin?

By: Marcus Stern

Use a VPN App or a Browser Extension?

Security conscious people are aware that using a reliable VPN provider protects them from prying eyes, anonymity, censorship, hackers and more with encryption when connected to the internet.

Gaining in popularity amongst users is the use of a proxy browser extension which can be used for Firefox, Chrome and a few other browsers. They advertise that it has the same benefits as using the Native VPN app, it hides your IP address and secures your connection using encryption.

But there’s a catch …………….

Because the word VPN is used (VPN proxy browser extension) most people are unaware to the dangers, thinking that it gives you the same protection as a native VPN. The fact is, proxy browser extensions are not VPNs they are only proxies.

What’s the real story?

Proxy browser extensions do not provide the full benefits vs. a VPN their extensions are HTTP or HTTPS that protect traffic that goes to and from your web browser. That’s it, if you want to include any other apps to be tunnelled through the VPN you will have to go through a native VPN app that will require installation on your machine (it sort of defeats the objective).

That’s not all ……..

A noteworthy observation is that apps like Skype, {which is lacking in any sort of encryption for protection), Outlook, Spotify, Steam, Popcorn Time, One Backup and SpiderOak, all of which are the most popular will need a native VPN app.

Open to Data Leaks and Lack Protection

What’s more you are open to data leaks, you will be exposed where your real IP address, browsing history, location and your private details are open to would be hackers.

Beware and watch out for proxy extensions that don’t provide the benefits of a real VPN, many of them use no encryption, old deprecated encryption methods leaving you ‘up the creek without a paddle’ when it comes to your protection.

There are a handful of top ranking VPNs that can stream geo-locked content and bypass government-imposed censorship like Iran, China and the UAE that can bypass firewalls. Using a real VPN you are able to connect and watch your favourite channels on Netflix, catch up on News from home while travelling abroad.

Using a browser extension expect to encounter problems you may be blocked by the internet police who use a tactic named DNS spoofing.

Avoid Free Browser Extensions

In your search for a Browser extension you will come across many offering ‘free’ services, as tempting as it may be do not be fooled. These ‘free’ browser extensions often come with advertisements, they gather browsing data, and have tracking cookies in your browser (they have to make money somehow). Most disturbing of all some even carry malware payloads, while others aggressively redirect users to affiliate sites to make money.

VPN providers with proxy extensions

VPN native appsVPN native apps

If you are looking for a reliable VPN that supports Chrome, NordVPN offer excellent packages that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, another VPN with excellent credentials is Private Internet Access, they support Chrome and Firefox also with very affordable packages that will suit your pocket.

Look, in spite of all the negatives of using a VPN browser extension there are some that are not entirely without any benefit and can accomplish things that a native VPN cannot.

Let me explain, as an example Chromebook users in most instances cannot install a native VPN app. By using a browser extension which is tailor-made is a good idea as everything in Chrome OS stays inside the Chrome browser.

Some other benefits of using extensions:

Protect against DNS and WebRTC leaks with NordVPN's extension browser.

Annoying ads and trackers can be blocked using Windscribe’s extension, it also deletes third party cookies and can spoof time zones to match the proxy server’s location.

Using Express VPNs extension they are able to scramble your geo-location API, whilst using Chrome that makes your whereabouts appear more convincing.

Bottom Line?

The choice is yours, whether you choose a native app or a browser extension, you have the facts. Going with a paid VPN provider that can offer both the native app and the browser extension is surely the way to go if you are looking for a complete package for your protection.