Why worry about someone looking over your shoulder when you can worry about someone stealing information from your browser?
Our Internet browsers are our windows to the world. We use them to check the weather, keep up on the news, bank, shop, and do all kinds of things. Unfortunately, from a security standpoint, a browser is more like a wide-open screen door than a locked window. And where do we pick up most of our malware these days? From the Internet.
Staying Secure in Your Browser—The Easy Way
To be fair, browsers are somewhat more secure than they used to be. But they're not hardened—made more secure than usual, in normal English. So what's an Internet user to do?
Our first option is by far the easiest: Go get yourself a hardened (secure) browser. Some Internet security programs include them in the package; if yours does, you'll probably be offered a hardened browser when you visit banking and shopping sites.
Nothing extra-safe included in your anti-malware package? You can play it super-safe and purchase a secure browser separately. Comodo, a respected cybersecurity company, offers two to try: Dragon web browser for Google Chrome fans and Ice Dragon for Firefox devotees.
If you're like me, though, you have 3 or 4 (or 5 or 6) browsers installed on your PC. What if you don't want to limit yourself to just one browser? It’d be like having a house with only one window. No fun there.In that case, you have to take the law into your own hands—at least in a cyber-frontier kind of way.
Staying Secure in Your Browser—The Hard, DIY-Way
Hardening or securing your browser by yourself is—let’s face it—inconvenient and, as craft tutorials say, at a medium level of difficulty. Why? Because the step-by-step directions vary depending on what browser you’re using.
At its basic level, you can increase your browser security by doing these relatively easy things:
- Turning off all unnecessary plugins (basically, mini-apps that run inside your browser)
- Setting up an Internet/browser security program, like Avast’s Online Security or Webroot’s Filtering Extension. These add-ins (or something like them) come with most Internet security programs, and they check web pages and search results to keep you from unknowingly navigating somewhere you shouldn’t.
- Sending out a Do Not Track request. It may or may not work, but it’s worth a try.
- Blocking third-party cookies and setting the browser to notify you whenever a cookie wants to be saved on your PC.