A secure browser guarantees the security and privacy of the internet user and ensures every (almost) essential of staying safe online. Unless browsers are properly configured, they can violate and exploit the vast amount of private information which can simply be collected by third parties.
What does Secure Browsing mean?
Secure browsing is all about the special security architecture of a web browser, supported by the different tools that are offered by the developers of browsers.
In many cases, the web browser offers special tools that ensure security. Particularly in the case of Mozilla Firefox, the add-ons and plug-ins tend to increase browser security by miles. Chrome, on the other side, displays warnings for websites that are potentially insecure.
In general, browser security refers to the phenomena of paying attention to different controls offered by web browsers to make your browsing experience secure and privacy protected.
Common Browser Threats and their Remedies
Browsers are the common portal for the users which enhance ubiquity and usability; bear repeating – unless browsers are properly configured, browsers have the potential to betray the users. A security organization Exabeam conducted research and analyzed Google, Amazon, and Facebook to help determine which type of user information is stored and how the interaction takes place.
The results were compiled in a blog post which outlines how a browser can be used against the user. Here is a summary of the findings and remedies for you to say safe.
The browser history is a traceable map to your internet activity. It will not only tell where you have been on the internet but will also tell when you were scrolling down a particular website which will establish your behavioral patterns.
If a hacker knows you have been accessing certain websites, then he/she can fish you up with phishing attack. You might end up losing your valuable credentials (just in case you have saved them on the website).
What to do with Browsing history?
Clearing the browser cache will flush the potential damage to your information. You can manually delete the browser history or can automatically set it when closing the browser.
Moreover, you can also use the incognito mode (private browsing) where no data is stored.
Saved Login Credentials
When saved login credentials are paired with bookmarks for the associated websites, then be rest assured that you can end up being in a deadly combination. Only two clicks by a hacker are all it takes to access the credit card or the banking website. Although some websites use two-factor authentication like texting a code on the mobile phone, while some only utilize this feature once.
The saved credentials on the email account are your weakness if a hacker trespasses on your email account; he/she can easily reset the password of any website that you may have ever accessed, resulting in hacking attempt/s.
Saved credentials knows you more than yourself
Never save your credentials on any website. However, you can use password managers like Password Safe and KeepPass to store passwords so that you don’t have to write your passwords down somewhere or save them on the websites themselves.
A password manager can even access a URL and log in for you; even many experts recommend it for convenience and security.
Autofill information can be deadly, and chrome can save information to help you shop online. But let’s assume for a second, if your device gets lost, the attacker would know where you live and if you’re home or not.
Remedy – Simply turn off the Autofill or any confidential detail filler.
Cookies are files that are locally stored to identify users on the websites. They are sued as another potential attack vector. They are just like the browsing history, which can reveal which websites you visited.
How to keep cookies away?
Disabling cookie is a potential solution to this issue; it has been a fix to this problematic affair for years. You can also purge cookies periodically which may protect you, although be prepared to enter the information repeatedly as prompted by the websites.
Exploring the browser cache involves the storing of some sections of the web page which aid in faster and easier page visit. This trick can be used to outline which websites you are visiting and what you have been visiting. There is malware that can be tailored to harvest upon cache data as well.
Remedy – Incognito mode can come in really handy to solve this query; or manually clear the cache (particularly) after sensitive operations.
Customize the Security – Related Settings
Most web browsers are customizable and come up with security-related settings. Although the settings differ from browser to browser, the context is the same across the platforms.
- Fake Sites: Enable this feature if it is available, it will help prevent malicious websites and their accessibility.
- Cookies: Only enable this setting if you visit a trusted website.
- Pop-Up Windows: Block pop-up windows and only enable them for the websites you trust. You can also tune your browser to ask you each time whenever a website asks to open a popup window.
- Plugins and Add-ons: Block add-ons and plugins automatically or tune your browser in such a fashion that it asks your permission before installing or running the add-on/plug-in.
- Camera and Microphone Usage: Block the camera and microphone to run automatically. You can set your browser to ask you whenever the website asks you to use the microphone or camera.
Some Additional Steps – These will Work with Every Browser
The actions above will make your browser secure as possible. You can harden up the security by these small additional steps.
- Use a reputable antivirus solution to detect the smallest of malware.
- Use a security-centered search engine that provides security evaluations of the websites.
- Turn on firewall offered by operating systems.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN) to make the communications between your browser and the websites encrypted.
To save your precious time, let me share our experts-recommended VPNs for your secure browsing.
Let’s do a security check of all the most popular browsers!
Firefox is a great all-around browser which offers security and privacy, offers robust privacy protection, and has excellent security options which are backed by regular updates; thanks to their active development team.
Firefox Quantum, which is a newer version of Firefox, is light-weighted and has much customizable option.
Highlights of Firefox security and privacy
- Open Source code is audited by third parties
- Offers excellent customizations and privacy features
- Other modifications are there for more security and privacy.
- A lot of browser extensions are supported.
Google chrome can be the best secure browser, but it can be a threat to a user’s privacy. Since Google at heart is a data collector, who knows pretty much everything about you. This factor helps Google dominate the advertising industry. It might be a good idea to give an alternative to Google a chance.
While Google Chrome may be a standpoint for security, it might not be a wise choice to handoff your data and privacy.
You can clearly see how the browser company states that your data might be shared with third party explicitly. Moreover, Opera was sold to a Chinese company and I cannot guarantee if the Chinese authorities would spare your personal data under Chinese law, just like GDPR laws in Europe.
Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge is yet another behemoth data collector. It is a good idea to avoid Microsoft products just like what people did with Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge are closed , and there is no telling of what is happening behind the scenes.
Apple Safari is the default browser for iOS and Mac OS. Although Safari is not a horrible choice for security and privacy it cannot be recommended due to the following reasons.
- Apple is involved in NSA PRISM program
- Apple was hoarding the Safari browsing history even after it was deleted.
- Apple was found using the history even under private
Secure Browsers is no more a matter of choice
A secure browser is crucial to protect your data while you browse the web; being a cesspool of private data, and related information, browsers can be easily exploited to ripe targets.
However, if you are looking for a high degree of anonymity, there are three tools to consider which are;
- A secure browser – select any secure browser, keep their security in mind (mentioned above).
- Use a reliable VPN service
- Use Ad or track blocker
Even a good VPN won’t save your privacy from WebRTC leaks and Browser fingerprinting so you have to stay wise with your decision.
Wondering how to protect your privacy consider reading this guide – how to protect your privacy online.