Cocoon privacy plug-in for Chrome watches your back as you browse

Cocoon, a browser plug-in designed to protect your privacy and security online, is now available for Google's Chrome browser, according to its maker Virtual World Computing.

The software is offered as a free plug-in with advertising, as well as in a paid premium version with added features, and works by placing Cocoon's servers between a consumer and the Internet. That hides the consumer's identity from anyone trying to track a web user's activity on the Web.

A beta version of the software was released Monday. A version for the general public is expected to be available Nov. 12.

How it works

With the free version of Cocoon, you get anonymous browsing, privacy on shared computers, secure Wi-Fi connections, and freedom from Facebook tracking. With the premium version, which costs $5 a month or $29 a year, you get all the features in the free version as well as unlimited storage for your browsing history and for form fill information in cookies. The paid version also gives you unlimited anonymous email addresses, virus protection anywhere you browse, and the ability to search with the engine of your choice.

Facebook tracking was also the target of a browser plug-in introduced in September by Secure.me. That plug-in for Safari, Firefox, and Chrome informs consumers about personal information being harvested by applications on the social network.

When web surfers using Secure.me visit a website for one of those applications or accesses their Facebook page, a pop-up alert appears with information about the application maker's reputation and an option to display more data about them.

Here's one reason to try something like Secure.me. Recent reports note that the social network has begun allowing some of its advertisers to contact its members using their email addresses and phone numbers.

Another plug-in that prevents tracking from within a browser, without using servers as a middleman, is Do Not Track Plus, made by Abine. This plug-in will prevent a website that you're visiting from sending information about you to other websites.

Some browsers, like Safari and Internet Explorer, contain built-in privacy protections, but as Apple and Microsoft learned earlier this year, those protections can be easily circumvented. In two prominent cases, Google "gamed" games measures in Internet Explorer to limit tracking consumers through the cookies placed on their computers and in Safari by altering default settings to enable snooping on consumers' travels on the Internet.

Cocoon is already available for Firefox, Internet Explorer, and all iOS products.

Vernon Irvin, Virtual World Computing's president and CEO, issued this statement: "Today's digital lifestyle has us connected to the Internet from a variety of devices and locations. Cocoon was developed to help manage your digital lifestyle while protecting your personal data."

Irvin added: "We are pleased to be able to offer Chrome users the free tool that instantly provides the great online privacy, security and convenience Chrome users are accustomed to, even when switching between a variety of devices."

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