How to Keep Your Web Browser Safe and Secure?
There are several web browsers available in the market, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Apple Safari, to name a few. Each of these web browsers have their own strengths and weaknesses, and you can choose whichever best suits your needs. It’s a known fact that Google Chrome is the most popular web browser of the lot, and is used by the maximum internet users out there. While it claims to automatically protect you from several security issues such as dangerous websites and phishing attacks, it never hurts to take extra steps to keep your web browser safe.
Why is a Secure Browser Important?
Web browsers are often accompanied by an operating system that doesn’t always come with a secure default configuration. The operating system of your computer can be described as the physical environment where all the applications run. If your operating system is vulnerable, it could compromise the security of all your applications. An operating system without a secure default configuration can cause ransomware attacks and even major business disruptions.
If you fail to secure your web browser, it can lead to several issues due to anything ranging from spyware installed without your knowledge to intruders controlling your device. These risks include the pages being loaded slower than usual, unwanted URL suggestions, the webpages not appearing as expected, constant random browser crashes, autofill not working, too many pop-up windows, broken images and videos, a patchy internet connection, and the homepage changing every now and then. Therefore, you should always evaluate the software risks beforehand if you want to avoid these web browser issues.
Computers are often sold with a software pre-installed in them. Regardless of whether it’s installed by a computer manufacturer, operating system maker, an internet service provider, or a retail store, the best way to test the vulnerability of a computer is to detect which software has been installed and how the programs interact with each other.
One way of knowing whether the software installed in your system is safe or not is by uploading the program or application to an online malware scanner. It will scan the file using multiple search engines, thereby helping you know whether the application or software is safe to use or not. You can also run the application in a sandbox. A sandbox is a security mechanism that separates the various running programs. The aim of a sandbox is to test the vulnerabilities of a software and to prevent the vulnerabilities from spreading throughout the computer.
Ways to Keep Your Web Browser Safe
Although it’s not exactly possible to have a browser that’s completely devoid of imperfections, you can definitely take measures to make your existing web browser as safe as possible. Some of these safety measures are as follows:
1 . Configure the Browser’s Security and Privacy Settings
Always make sure to review your browser’s privacy and security settings so that you’re aware of what’s checked and what’s unchecked. For example, ensure that your browser is blocking third-party cookies, or else advertisers will be able to track your online activities.
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2 . Keep Your Browser Updated
Outdated browsers can lead to buggy issues and security vulnerabilities. This is why browser developers keep releasing new versions in order to improve the existing features and fix the disrupting bugs. Therefore, you should always keep the mode of automatic updates on, so that your device doesn’t face security problems.
Interesting Read : Security and privacy for the most popular web browsers in 2019
You can either go for the automatic update feature in your browser settings or check for the latest updates every now and then. Those using Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox should leave the option of automatic updates enabled. The users of Internet Explorer should use a current version of it on a modern version of Windows and install Windows updates or use Microsoft Edge on Windows 10.
3 . Stay Away from Unsafe Websites
If you receive a warning before opening a dangerous website, don’t proceed to open it. In case you do end up accidentally accessing it, close it immediately and run a virus scan on your computer, just to be on the safe side. Unsafe websites will contain malware and harmful programs, be labeled as deceptive sites, and load scripts from unauthenticated sources.
Unsafe sites can attempt to spy on your personal privacy, steal your payment information, and so on. There are a few ways to find out whether a website is unsafe or not. Some of the signs include weird popups on the website, websites using HTTP that are labeled as ‘Not Secure’ sites, and your browser giving you a warning before opening the website.
4 . Use a VPN
Using a Virtual Private Network or VPN is the easiest way to access all the information you want on the internet while keeping your data safe and private, including your location, browsing cache, and the like. From hackers and malware developers to online advertisers and other external agents, it keeps a lot of unnecessary intruders at bay, therefore keeping your web browser safe.
VPNs enable you to browse the internet anonymously. Just look up a VPN service that you can install on your device, download it, and use it to protect your web browser. LimeVPN, for example, offers quality VPN services and lets you browse the internet all you want while keeping both your browser and data safe.
5 . Be Cautious About Plug-ins
Go over to the list of the plug-ins installed on your web browser, and uninstall all those that you no longer require. Java, for example, isn’t needed by many websites. So, uninstall it unless you really feel the need for it. If you see a plug-in you never use, go ahead and get rid of it. You can always reinstall it in the future if necessary.
It’s also important to keep your plug-ins updated. Keep them on automatic update mode. Google Chrome automatically updates its own copy of Flash, and if you use Adobe Flash, make sure it automatically updates itself when required.
6. Employ an Ad-Blocker on Your Browser
Ad-blockers prevent page elements such as advertisements from popping up on your browser. If you’re using Google Chrome, this is how you can install the ad-blocker extension:
- Launch Google Chrome on your device. Click the three dots in the upper-right corner, click on ‘More Tools’, and then on ‘Extensions’.
- Go to the menu button on the upper-left side, and opt for the ‘Open Chrome Web Store’ option.
- On the search box, type ‘ad blocker’, choose the extension you wish to install and click ‘Add to Chrome’.
- Choose ‘Add Extension’ if a notification pops up, and wait for the process to complete.
7 . Install an Antivirus Software
Installing an antivirus software protects your device and web browser from security breaches. An antivirus software scans detect and remove malware from your system. It also protects your device from spyware and phishing attacks. Additionally, it improves the performance of your computer and keeps ads and dangerous websites at bay.
8 . Add the Necessary Extensions
In order to keep your browser safe, here are some of the necessary extensions you should add:
a . Anti-phishing extension: Phishing is a form of online fraud in which attackers disguise themselves as reputable people or entities through email or other forms of communication. The attackers then use phishing emails to distribute malicious links that can extract important login credentials or account information.
In order to prevent yourself from these phishing attacks, install an anti-phishing extension. It allows you to look up all the information regarding a website, letting you decide if you want to proceed to go to it or not. It also keeps details such as that of your credit card or so from being stolen, along with letting you report sites that you suspect are using phishing techniques.
b. Anti-tracking extension: Webpages often take some of their content from other domains, and these domains mostly contain trackers. The trackers collect information about the user and send it to third-party companies, which then track the user’s online activities to send them promotional ads about their brand. To stop these trackers from violating your online privacy, you can enable the anti-tracking extension on your browser. Not only does it hide your search queries, it also hides your location and IP address, and disables cache for third-party requests, all while keeping your browser safe.
c. Cookie Cleaner Extension: Cookies are the text files written by browsers, containing information about your interaction with specific websites. They store information such as your login credentials, what you bought from an online store, etc. They can often impact your privacy and harm your web browser. Therefore, it’s best to get rid of them. You can do so by installing a cookie cleaner extension. The extension enables you to delete a cookie whenever you close a tab or browser.
Web Browser Safety is of Utmost Importance
Apart from tricking the users into downloading and running malicious software, attackers tend to target the flaws in your web browser to harm your device. Regardless of whether the intruders are employing advertisements or compromising websites, it’s always important to keep your web browser safe. While it’s tough to keep your browser completely free from any harm, using the tips listed above will definitely let you provide as much safety to your web browser as possible.