Security toolbars are extensions for web browsers that are used for malware detection and help protect users in real-time while they surf the web.
Online security professionals recognize three main types of security toolbar add-ons:
- Neutral-information toolbars
- SSL-verification toolbars
- System-decision toolbars
In this article, we will explain these three types of toolbars and will compare them with other security tools. We will also discuss how we can avoid the installation of a non-legitimate toolbars and malicious security add-ons and how to distinguish them from the legitimate ones. As a general piece of advice, we recommend that you always use well-known are reliable search engines such as Google or Bing and don’t get tempted to download sketchy browser add-ons or extensions from unknown developers and spam sources.
Neutral-information toolbars typically give users only the basic site information. That could include the domain name, the registration date, the hostname, and country of hosting. The user must then decide for himself if the website is trustworthy or not by using this information. For more advanced users who know exactly what to do with these specific details, neutral-information toolbars are recommended and can be useful to help them decide whether a given website has malicious or phishing elements. If you are a regular web user and you are simply thrown at this information without any explanation, however, it is hardly likely that you would be able to make use of it. In fact, statistics show that nearly 45% of users who use neutral-information toolbars become victims of online scams, thus, these tools are not the best option as far as online safety goes.
SSL-verification toolbars scan your domains and notify you of those domains where SSL certificates are not displayed. In addition, these toolbars display the emblem of the site and the certificate authority (CA) that has issued the certificate. In this way users can be sure that they are visiting only websites that provide safe server-browser access and avoid the risk of entering personal information, passwords, banking or other sensitive details on pages without reliable encryption protection.
Systems-decision toolbars have an estimated 67 percent performance rate and are promoted by many professional antivirus vendors. These toolbars work directly on your browser and, contrary to SSL-verification or neutral-Information toolbars, they directly block you from fraudulent web pages by displaying an alert on your screen. Users don’t have to evaluate the site’s reliability and make a false decision themselves, so this type of toolbar is considered to be better than the previous ones. However, you should not rely exclusively on browser security toolbars to defend your browser against malware.
Toolbars for online protection versus anti-malware tools
Security toolbars are additional instruments for online safety that cannot guarantee full system protection against malware (Auto Refresh Malware, Decacopy). Therefore, even though they may be relatively effective, such toolbars should not be used instead of full-featured security software. What’s more, experts have found that security toolbars and similar add-ons may often obstruct the display of legal pages. Anti-malware tools, on the other hand, have a number of useful security features both for browser and system protection and are a more secure choice when it comes to the general protection of your computer.
Malicious security toolbars – what are they and how to avoid them?
Along with legitimate security toolbars, there are plenty of fake ones that only aim to trick you into installing them so that they can compromise the safety of your web browser. Malicious security toolbars may be commonly distributed in free program bundles or spam messages. You may recognize a malicious security toolbar if it starts to warn you about non-existent computer problems, presents false-positives about potential malware attacks and tries to convince you to buy the “full” version. Some fake security toolbars may even try to force users to subscribe for a monthly technical support service and disappear without a trace when the money is paid. That’s why it is very important to carefully select what software you download and install on your computer if you want to avoid becoming a victim of viruses and online scams.