Online security is a big worry for most people. After all, there are tons of stories released everyday that talk about how data has been stolen, how people’s identity is at risk, and the like. It makes sense to worry about the security of yourself while online. But, what are the real reasons for wanting to be safe while online? Mostly, people do not want their personal data coming into contact with others, who may use this to harm the person. Other people want their data safe, as they have crucial information about other people, such as those who use their computers or mobiles for work. Whatever, the reason for wanting to stay safe while online, know that you are not alone. However, one of the most weakest points in online safety for a person is their browser.
Most people give no attention to their browser. They believe that the threat they fear is coming from malicious websites, emails or other types of messages. However, consider this, browsers are the window into the world online. For those who use a laptop, desktop or mobile, they are using a browser each and every time that they access the Internet. Whether the person uses Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer or Google Chrome, they are using a browser, that could leave the person open to harm.
So how do people go about ensuring their browser is safe? There are numerous ways:
1. Utilize an anti-virus program
2. Install a pop-up blocker
3. Utilize a VPN such as HideMyAss to add even extra protection to the other efforts in which the person is doing
4. Have a product to fight spy ware
5. Ensure that they have a reliable back up program to periodically back up folders and files that are of importance
6. A cleaning program to remove cookies and unwanted extras that may add onto their browser
Is this going to protect you? It is going to help. But, most people point out that these programs are dealing with the threats that are coming at you. The problem may be your browser, so the better idea is to simply ensure that you are improving your browser. Through doing this, you are making it stronger to resist such attacks and threats, aiding you in avoiding hackers, viruses, malware, spyware and whatever else may come along.
The main thing to remember is that you need to secure your browser. The security of your browser is going to be the essential step in preventing attacks. However, this can be harder than what most people realize. There are numerous aspects that can make securing the browser harder or near impossible. For example:
- The vulnerabilities of the browser itself, which is nothing that you can really adjust for, as this is a problem at the creation and implementation level of design
- Exposing yourself to links or websites that contain malicious content and have infected your system
- Security vulnerabilities that are not patched or go unnoticed by the designers of the browsers can prove to be impossible in securing the browser, as many hackers will know how to use these vulnerabilities to meet their criminal needs
- The inexperience of the user can also affect the security of the browser, as they may simply be unaware that there is an issue that they need to address
Upon installing a browser onto any desktop, laptop or mobile device, there are certain features of the browser that are uploaded onto these devices. It is these features that can make for a security nightmare in many cases. Yet, most people do not think about this. After all, if the issue is uploaded before the user even gets a hold of the device, it must be safe, right? That is not always the truth, and this is what leads many people to realizing that they are a huge security risk, or that their security has already been breached.
The following features all have some importance in your web browsing experience. However, all these features can also become an open vessel for attackers to enhance the weak points of your security:
The ActiveX feature is associated with Internet Explorer. And chances are you have seen:
The reason that a person gets this message is because these Active X controls are required by some websites in order to fully view the website as it was meant to be seen. However, criminals have manipulated this aspect in that they utilize their own corrupt Active X controls on websites to hack into systems. The best method for dealing with an Active X control is that if you do not need it, and the website looks fine to you, then avoid using it or downloading it onto your system.
Java is used as a way to make websites run more effectively and to enhance certain aspects. For instance, Java may be required to view pictures or files that are on a website. There are two versions of Java. The first is the Java that runs on a device, which is a safe option to have. The second is the browser only Java that is a browser plug-in. This is the one option that you need to disable should you not need it. Having this running all the time opens up your browser for criminals to see what you are doing, as well as passwords that you have used online.
Cookies are used by websites as a way to look at your browser experience on their website. This can help to make the website better, show where they may be issues, and basically cater your experience to what you want. It is a great concept, however, there is some security issues with cookies. Cookies can also be used as a way to look at what you have done online, track your visits to websites, and the like that criminals can exploit. Those who want the most secure browser will find that they have to allow cookies to run. They may get a screen like:
That will prompt them to allow these. This can get strenuous and irritating if online a lot, but it is one way you can ensure your browser is secure.
4. Extensions aka Add-Ons
An extension or add-on as most people call them, is a software that adds to your user experience. For example, some add-ons may support video playing while on a website, while others may relate to social media. These add-ons are supposed to make your overall browser experience better and more personal. However, there is a downside to these add-ons. They can cause your browser to run slower, inject ads into your browser, and they are often used as a view into your browser history, what you do online, and the like. All of which a criminal can utilize for their own deeds.
For the purposes of securing your browser, we are going to include steps for the most popular browsers, Mozilla, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. For those who want to ensure that they are the safest that they can be while online, these steps can make it much easier. However, just because you secure your browser does not mean that online criminals cannot get to you. These criminals are savvy and are always finding more unique and harmful ways to get at online users. Thus, you have to stay vigilant in this fight against online crime.
When utilizing Internet Explorer and you want to secure your browser, the first thing to do is to go to Internet Options. This menu is going to look different, depending on which version of Internet Explorer you are using. But, it is going to be located in the Settings area of Internet Explorer. Once you open this area up, you are going to want to go to the Security panel of the Internet Options.
After arriving at this screen, we recommend that you utilize a High security level, which you can choose by changing the settings, through selecting Custom Level or whatever version you are using. You can also add in exceptions to this security rule, or do this however you want. The key is to ensure that your browser is not accepting every cookie, add on and the like that comes through, which is gong to reduce your chances of having security vulnerabilities.
Within the Custom Level option you can control which Active X control are being used:
You can go through and enable or disable any of these that you wish. Or you can Reset the entire system to go back to factory settings. This is what many people do frequently as a way to ensure that they are keeping their browser up to date, clean and running smoothly.
Though you may have disabled some aspects and increased your security. You can choose to add in those sites that you deem safe. This can be done via the Security Panel, and clicked Trusted Sites. You can add in a site or remove a site, once you see:
The Privacy section of the Internet Options menu is also going to be of importance. You need to ensure that you are not allowing third party attacks on your browser while you are using it. Be sure to click to enable Pop Up Blocker on this menu. Cookies can be controlled from this menu, and here is where you should choose to accept first party and third party cookies only after being encouraged to do so.
Once this is complete, go to the Advanced panel of your Internet Options menu. Here you are going to take steps to protect yourself from add ons. Once here, click to uncheck the option for Enabling third party add ons, as this can pose some serious threats.
Once this is all complete, you will need to apply all the changes, and perhaps restart your system to ensure that all these changes are going to take effect. However, if a shut down is needed, your computer will warn you of this.
FireFox is perhaps the second most popular form of browser that people are using. They find that they like the user interface a bit better than Internet Explorer, or they simply prefer this for whatever reason. With this being said, you need to ensure that your Firefox browser is as secure as possible. From the Tools menu, access the Options menu.
From here, you are going to start the process of securing this browser.
Access the General tab on the Options menu. Be sure to check the Always ask me where to save files, as this can prevent any unwanted files from being saved:
Next, click on the Privacy tab on the menu. When you are under this tab, there are two actions that you are going to want to take. First, be sure to click the box labeled “Tell sites I do not want to be tracked”. And also change the History to “Never remember History”.
In order for these changes to take effect, the browser will have to restart.
Finally, the last step in Mozilla Firefox Browser security is to go to the Security tab of the panel. Be sure that all first three boxes are checked. Then look at the password section, to encrypt information, always choose to Use a master password.
Chrome has increased in popularity, especially for those who utilize a gmail account, as this allows a person to set up their gmail account to access their favorite apps and the like via any device they are using the Chrome browser. However, this is one of the biggest reasons why there is a browser security issue. This can be fixed by accessing the Settings tab, and looking under the Sign In section.
From here, choose the Advanced Sync Settings.
Once you are here, you are going to want to choose the option to Set Your Own Passphrase.
Now that this is complete, go to the Advanced Settings on the Settings tab, found at the bottom of the page.
In this section there are several options that you can utilize in order to provide a safer browsing experience. You can:
- Delete browsing history
- Choose options on what content is displayed, such as pictures, local content, etc.
- Control plugin options
If you are going to be browsing with any internet browser, there are a few tips that you can keep in mind that will help ensure that you are always safe.
1. Always ensure that your browser is up to date
2. Never use the same password on all of your accounts
3. Watch out for public Wi-Fi with a browser
4. Consider not using sensitive accounts like banking accounts online
Through ensuring that you are browsing properly, your browser has to be in the best shape possible. Plus, this helps to ensure that you are always safe while online.