When was the last time you thought about your web browser security? Most people know that cybersecurity is important. In fact, 75% of global computer users install antivirus software to protect themselves. Thankfully, this kind of software is pretty effective, often stopping 100% of virus attacks.
But attacks can come from many different sources, so it’s not enough to simply install some software one time and call it a day. In fact, the second most common entry point for malware is through web browsers. Browser plugins and add-ons from third-party sources can simplify everyday tasks, but like apps on your smartphone, some of these tools contain some pretty gnarly code that can slip past your antivirus software and infect your computer.
Don’t become a victim of an unsecured browser. Read on to find some simple tips on how to improve your web browser security.
Why Do I Need To Protect My Internet Browser?
One reason it’s important to spend time making your internet browser safer is because the default browsers that come on many computers are not fully set up. They may be installed, but many of their features have to be activated or configured before they are fully functional. This allows users to customize their browser, but if users don’t realize they need to do this then they are unlikely to change these settings. Other times, vulnerabilities in the browser are discovered after the computer is already packaged for sale.
Complicating the problem, many users click on links while browsing the internet without investigating the links first. This can lead them to dubious sites that may contain spyware or adware. But careful users can also find themselves tricked by fake sites or disguised URLs. Even the most vigilant person can be duped once in a while.
Finally, some security features limit the functionality of a browser. Many users will disable security features if they interfere with what the user wants to do. Sometimes users are not aware that doing this puts them at risk, and other times users assume their antivirus software or firewall will be enough to keep them safe. However, a neglected browser leaves holes in your computer’s security defenses.
How Can I Fix My Web Browser Security?
There are many ways to make your web browser more secure. Some of these ways include uninstalling or deactivating old software that might have vulnerabilities. Others include installing tools that protect your privacy by blocking trackers. Below is a list of our top tips for keeping your web browser secure online.
- Keep your browser up-to-date. Yes, installing updates can be a pain, but many updates you are prompted to install include security fixes. By the time a security issue is discovered in a browser, it is usually already being exploited, so don’t put this off (even if it is annoying).
- Install an adblocker. This type of software blocks pop-ups and ads that might install malicious code in your browser before you even interact with them. AdBlock Plus and uBlock Origin are two popular options that prevent these ads from functioning, but there are many free, reliable options available.
- Make yourself invisible online. Lots of websites track the behavior of users who visit their sites. They do this by installing cookies (small packets of code) on users’ browsers so they can learn more about how those users behave and what will make those users more likely to buy their products. Most web browsers offer an option in their settings menu to “disable third party cookies,” preventing these trackers from installing. However, sometimes cookies still sneak by. For this reason, there is software that can block these trackers, restoring your privacy. Two great options are Disconnect and Ghostery, both of which can speed up your online experience while keeping you safe.
- Use a VPN. Better known as a virtual private network, a VPN encrypts the data your computer exchanges with the internet. This means that your ISP (internet service provider) or other people on the same public network as you cannot see what you are doing online. This is important because in 2017, Congress repealed privacy rules that prevented an ISP from selling data about its users. As a result, your online behavior is not only sold to many industries, but it is specifically linked to your identity, including your full name and address. But a VPN can make it much more difficult to link your online behavior with your identity, restoring your privacy. Since Congress’ decision, a number of affordable and reliable VPNs have become popular, including NordVPN, Private Internet Access, TunnelBear, and CyberGhost.
- Look for HTTPS when exchanging private information online. We’ve talked about HTTPS before, but as a quick reminder, the s in HTTPS stands for “secure.” It lets you know that a website uses encryption when you make a purchase or enter information into the site. Unsecured sites put you at a much higher risk of having your information stolen. To prevent this, consider using tools like HTTPS Everywhere to create a more secure connection with the site.
Learn About Your Favorite Browser’s Settings
Another important way to improve your web browser security is to get to know its settings. Lots of browsers actually have built-in protections you can enable to shield yourself. For instance, in late 2019, Chrome introduced a feature that will tell you if your username and password have been exposed in a data breach, and Firefox has rolled out better anti-tracking tools with their “Block Third-Party Trackers” feature in the settings menu. There is also a growing market of browsers like Brave that claim to put privacy and security first, offering options like a better “private browsing mode” that features encryption. Today, any browser with name recognition will have at least basic security features, but which features they offer and how you enable them can vary from browser to browser.
Thankfully, these browsers want you to know that these features are available, so companies like Google and Firefox offer online tutorials and YouTube videos to help you decide which features you need and how to enable them. And just recently, The Verge published a series of articles with each focusing on detailed security features of the eight most popular web browsers. Thankfully, user demand is making it easier than ever to learn more about the essential protections you need to stay safe online.
If you use the internet to make purchases or exchange data, then you’re making yourself and your business vulnerable. Find out how two-factor authentication can make your data safer through multi-layered security and more secure sign-on features.
Are you concerned about your company’s network security? Do you have a plan to prevent the kind of data breaches that are becoming increasingly more common for small and medium-sized businesses? Talk to the experts at TracSoft about our network security services. We offer 24/7 monitoring using advanced, industry-leading tools, and we’ve been protecting businesses just like yours for over 20 years. Find out today what TracSoft can do for you.