NoScript Review

NoScript

ProPrivacy.com Score 7.4 out of 10
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Summary

NoScript is a browser extension that stops JavaScript and other website scripts (Java, Flash and other plugins) from loading on the pages that you visit. As a result, NoScript can protect you against malicious ads, pop-ups, and even drive-by exploits encountered if you stumble across compromised websites.

Overview

NoScript falls into the category of script blocking extensions that also provide ad blocking as a consequence. NoScript can, therefore, be compared to extensions like uMatrix and uBlock Origin. It is a free extension that can be used not only to gain added privacy and security online but also to improve page load times by avoiding downloading necessary content coming from third-party domains.

noscript in chrome store

Until 2020, NoScript was exclusively available for Firefox. However, it is now also available for Chrome - further increasing its appeal as a security and privacy providing an extension. Admittedly, NoScript has got a reputation for being a little confusing. For this reason, it is often considered not suitable for internet users who are not tech-minded.

However, the reality is that - with just a little effort - anybody can begin taking advantage of NoScript to protect themselves against potential browser exploits that leverage JavaScript vulnerabilities. 

javascript blocked

Features

  • Available for Firefox, Firefox-based browsers like Seamonkey, and Chrome
  • Automatically block Javascript, Java, Flash, and other potentially nefarious plugins
  • Cross-site scripting (XSS) protection
  • ClearClick anti-Clickjacking protection
  • Easily customizable settings
  • Temporarily Unblock scripts
  • Global settings for bypassing NoScript when needed
  • Comprehensive list of per-site permissions
  • Whitelisting (and default whitelisting for important domains)

Why NoScript seems annoying and frustrating

For newbies, installing NoScript can lead to frustration because the extension appears to break the websites they visit. JavaScript is commonly used by most of the websites we visit - and disabling JavaScript with NoScript makes many websites fail to load.

While this may put some people off downloading the app, the reality is that this means it is working. Users only need to do a few things to get the websites they want to load - while still gaining extra privacy and security online.

With that said, it is true that by disabling JavaScript by default, you will end up having to do a lot of work when you initially visit websites with NoScript enabled. Whether this is something that interests you really depends on how much you want to block JavaScript and other plugins in the first place.

question marks

Do I need NoScript?

The answer to this question is yes and no. While there are JavaScript exploits in the wild, it is fair to say that they are on the rarer side. A few years ago Java used to suffer from a lot of exploits. However, Java isn’t allowed in browsers anymore and JavaScript is completely unrelated to this now-defunct plugin standard.

On the other hand, some exploits for JavaScript do exist that can allow hackers to force keys on users and perform a man-in-the-middle attack. And it is possible to stumble across nefarious scripts that inject malware onto your machine via your browser as you surf the web.

In addition, most websites leverage JavaScript, so it is possible that new exploits will emerge as time goes on as hackers search for new ways to victimize people. Thus, there are plenty of reasons to make the effort to use NoScript for added online security.

NoScript options

Conclusion

If setting up NoScript sounds a bit too fiddly for you, you may want to stick to using other privacy and anti-tracking extensions like Privacy Badger, Ghostery, uBlock Origin, and Adblock Plus. However, we prefer running those extensions in addition to NoScript. NoScript is not difficult to use and requires only minimal effort to set up.

Perhaps the only drawback of NoScript is that it does whitelist some webpages by default, and for privacy advocates who like to do everything themselves this may be seen as annoying (and does sometimes lead to criticism of NoScript in comments). However, you can go into settings and change how a page loads, so those criticisms are a bit OTT in our opinion. And you can even export your settings from one browser to another for added convenience.

Whether you find NoScript to be an annoyance really depends on how you use it. Every website you set up remains that way indefinitely, meaning that with just a bit of effort you can gain security and added privacy online. We think the benefits of NoScript outweigh the effort that is needed to initially get it working.

What’s more, you can go into the settings and export your preferences onto any other machine, adding convenience to get NoScript working on other devices. 

Overall, this is an excellent, free, and open-source extension - developed by trustworthy devs with a good reputation. It is well worth the tinkering and only recives a 7.4 beause it is probably a bit tough for most people to use right out of the box. 

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. Ray is currently rated #7 VPN and #8 internet privacy authority by Agilience.com.

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