In the most general sense, browser toolbar is usually a horizontal tab that is pinned to the top section of your browser window and remains visible regardless of the changing web pages. This tab is primarily designed for the purpose of allowing the users to control the Internet browser or alter its settings. In other words, browser toolbars provide the graphical user interface (GUI) which ensures an easily accessible use of various functionalities. Most of us are surely accustomed to seeing and using the back and forward, refresh and home buttons which are embedded in most of the Internet browsers. But software vendors offer much more than that. The market is full of different downloadable toolbars that can be installed on the computer in case you need some extra few features that don’t come pre-installed with the browser. Apart from the Google, Yahoo or Bing search toolbars, online privacy, and security-based toolbars have always been among the most popular browser add-ons. So, we have decided to dedicate this article to the discussion of the types of security toolbars and their working principles. We will also compare these tools with other security utilities and give you brief suggestions on how to avoid getting tricked into downloading a fake browser add-on.
Types of security toolbars:
Security toolbars are essentially the extensions of malware-detection utilities which, instead of focusing on virus detection on the computer system, work towards providing a real-time malware defense while you are browsing the web. There are three basic types of these browser add-ons:
- Neutral-Information toolbars
- SSL-Verification toolbars
- System-decision toolbars
The first category is probably the simplest one and involves less of the direct interference. Such toolbars provide the users only with the basic site information which might include the name of the domain, date of registration, hostname, and hosting country. Using this information, the user then has to decide for him/herself, whether the site is trustworthy and does not contain elements of phishing or scam. Such tools are recommended to more experienced users who know exactly what to make of the given information. If this information gets simply thrown at you without any explanation, there is barely a chance that it will be of any use. In fact, the studies show that around 45% of the regular users who use neutral-information toolbars get scammed online which makes this type of protection the least reliable of the three.
SSL-Verification toolbars show better results. They stand in-between the neutral-Information toolbars and system-decision tools with 38% of the unfortunate users who got tricked into disclosing their personal information or obtaining malicious software. These toolbars automatically scan your visited domains and notify about the ones which do not display SSL certificates. In addition, the security utility presents the logo of the site and certificate authority (CA) which had issued the certificate. This way, the users can be certain that they are only visiting sites that offer secure server-browser connection and, at the same time, refrain from entering sensitive information, such as passwords and online banking details on non-encrypted domains.
Finally, we’ve come to the software which shows the best results in online protection. System-decision toolbars are said to have a success rate of around 67%. This explains why so many reputable antivirus providers choose this particular approach if they decide to offer security toolbar service to their users. Unlike SSL-verification or neutral-information toolbars, this one acts on your browser directly and may block you from the fraudulent web pages, by displaying a warning alert either on the toolbar or instead of the web page itself. The users do not have to analyze the reliability of the site themselves and fall for a false judgment, so this toolbar is more effective than the previously discussed ones. Most security browser toolbars we present on our site are system-decision-based and trustworthy; nevertheless, you should not rely on them alone to protect your device from malware.
Security toolbars vs. security software:
Although they have been proven relatively effective, security toolbars should not be mistaken or used instead of the all-inclusive security suites. As we have already mentioned, they are only complementary tools which cannot ensure a full system protection against malware. While security add-ons protect against unverified domains or potential phishing sites, antiviruses are responsible for more serious infections, such as adware, ransomware, miners, Trojans, etc. Besides, if you accidentally download an infected file or program, the toolbar will not be able to do anything to quarantine or remove it. Anti-malware utilities, on the other hand, usually have all these functions and are, without a doubt, a much more trustworthy option. The experts have noticed that security toolbars and similar add-on sometimes block legitimate sites as well, so they might as well fail to inform you about the malicious ones. Thus, to ensure a full system protection, you should check out antivirus, anti-malware and anti-spyware categories of our site.
Malicious security toolbars: how to avoid them?
For every legitimate software, there is always a malicious equivalent created by the fraudulent cyber criminals with an intention to benefit from the unsuspecting users. Security toolbars are not an exception. In fact, these tools are especially convenient targets, because they can be easily distributed in software packages with other, usually malicious security software programs, or install disguised as Adobe Flash Player or other software updates. In addition, such toolbars may also come with browser hijackers which promote malicious security programs. Therefore, you should conduct a comprehensive research before installing such tools on your computer. Otherwise, you might end up with a very nasty malware on your PC. Typically, fake security toolbars alert about non-existing computer problems, submit false positives and try to persuade the users into purchasing the “full” version of the already fake security product. Some of them may also push the users to subscribe to the monthly tech support services and, once the money is paid, disappear without a trace. Thus, you should always be careful about picking what software is worthy installing on your computer, not to mention, entrusting your computer’s security with.
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Information updated: 2017-05-11