If you’re reading this, I assume you’re already conscious of the fact that your web browser can be a doorway to all sorts of online dangers.
Thankfully, there are measures you can take to protect yourself from identity theft, malware infection, and various other types of internet abuse.
One of the best and most effective defense mechanisms is a virtual private network – or VPN – service.
What is a VPN?
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is exactly what it sounds like: a virtual network that you create and inhabit using your web browser.
Every time you go online, whether it’s through a virtual private server, a dedicated laptop, or a mobile device like a tablet or a smartphone, you’re connecting to the VPN and its servers through a secure tunnel. So, as long as you’re connected to a VPN, your personal data – including your browsing history, passwords, and other personal information – are secure.
Why should you use a VPN?
Even if you take every possible precautionary measure to safeguard your personal data when you’re online, there are still a few instances where you could be at risk of online attack or abuse.
For example, if you constantly browse the dark-web, you’re leaving yourself open to malware and identity theft.
When you’re using a VPN, your web browser will always request permission before giving access to any personal data. This is often referred to as a “lock-down” feature, as the purpose is to prevent your personal information from being accessed by third parties.
Additionally, some VPNs can stop your internet service provider – or ISP – from seeing your activity. This is because they use encryption to protect your data. While this is usually a good thing, it also means that your ISP cannot monitor your activity or traffic for violations.
5 Ways to Stop Chrome From Opening a “Free VPN Download” Page
If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware that Chrome is one of the worst offenders when it comes to opening “free VPN download” or “try before you buy” pages.
While you might find these types of websites useful, opening them when you’re not consciously aware of the dangers is usually a bad idea.
Fortunately, there are a few ways you can prevent Chrome from launching a “free VPN download” page whenever you visit one.
1. Set your default search engine to “DuckDuckGo”
To start off, you’ll want to head to Google’s homepage and hit the menu button (top left). From here, you can choose to search with Google or go directly to Bing or DuckDuckGo.
What is DuckDuckGo you ask?
It’s basically the anti-Google. The company was founded by Gabe Steinberg and Joel Teti, and the purpose is to offer an alternative to Google’s search engine.
DuckDuckGo doesn’t track its users or collect any data. When you search with DuckDuckGo, you’ll see random results that have nothing to do with what you’re looking for.
For example, if you enter the term “DuckDuckGo” into the search bar, you’ll see random result snippets, including “How to remove water spots from a leather recliner” and “What color dress should I buy for Halloween”.
You’ll notice that even though these are random results, they all have something to do with what you’re looking for. This is because Google tracks your search queries and builds an algorithmic index of your interests. So if you don’t want Google to know what you’re looking for when you search, you’ll want to block them in your browser’s settings.
2. Install an extensions-less Chrome
If you feel like you’re constantly bombarded with ads and aren’t getting the quality for your money (or currency) when you load a web page, you’ll want to try and install an extensions-less Chrome.
With extensions-less Chrome, you’ll get a Chrome version with all the additional functionality stripped out. This means that all the interactive and pop-up ads will be stripped out, as will the ability to load third-party scripts.
Some extensions-less Chrome users have complained that this can slow down their computer or mobile device since all the adverts and third-party scripts use a lot of resources.
3. Disable image autoplaying for websites
Usually, when you visit a website or open an image in a new tab, your web browser will automatically load and display any image found on that site.
This is usually a good thing, as it allows you to easily find what you’re looking for without any hassles.
However, sometimes this can be a problem if you visit a website with a collection of images, blogs, or news articles.
In those cases, you’ll want to disable image autoplaying for that specific website or group of websites.
To do this, visit the Settings menu (bottom right) of your Chrome browser. From here, you can choose to block all autoplaying images or a specific type of image (e.g., Mp4, AVI, or WebM).
4. Install a clean browser installation
Sometimes, if you visit a website that you’ve downloaded a tool or extension from, it can easily be cluttered with garbage.
To make sure that your browser is always clean, you’ll want to install a clean version of Chrome (or another web browser such as Firefox).
To do this, visit the Google Play Store (top right) and look for the install button. Once you’ve installed the app, you’ll want to launch it and sign in with your Google account.
From here, you can update the app’s defendants (the software that makes it play videos such as YouTube or Vevo) and remove the app’s previous versions if they exist.
Afterwards, you’ll want to visit the Google Play Store again and download the latest version.