Browsers are the bridge that allows users to connect to the internet and a multitude of its websites that are ingrained in our daily life. With the global pandemic at hand and everyone couped into their homes, internet usage has grown drastically. This increased usage has given cyber crooks a considerable opportunity to play on and lay hands on user data. According to the CyberEdge Group 2020 Cyberthreat Defense Report, the organizations affected by a successful cyberattack reached 80.7%, up from 78.0% in 2019, which puts forth the real picture before us.
This makes it essential for users to be cautious and leave no stone unturned in making sure their data is secure. Here are a few tips to follow from Browser Security Guide:
Invest in a VPN:
When not using a VPN, all the data that your device sends out into a network or receives is converted into data packets, which can easily be misused to track down your IP address. However, using a VPN allows your IP to stay hidden by routing your data packets through an anonymous IP and encrypts the data so that no random stranger can read into it.
The Onion Router, so the rescue:
Tor is a software that can help conceal the location and internet usage of its user. It can be used to protect the privacy of the user details and maintain confidentiality about the communication the user has through the internet, be it messages, posts, etc. TOR enables this by encapsulating your browser’s queries inside a three-layer encrypted casing and redirecting them thrice before hitting the actual server. With a VPN compatible with TOR, you can make your browser incredibly secure.
Take advantage of Security software like Antivirus and Anti Exploit programs:
One of the most common yet highly recommended practices for safer browsing is to have well-reputed security software or antivirus software. With the amount of data available online increasing multifold, so are the malware, spyware, and viruses. Spending some time researching and finding the antivirus best suited is essential to help protect your data and alerts against such rogue software present on the internet. Having an anti-exploit program is also a good idea to add another security layer to block suspicious behavior in the web browser itself. Read more about types of cyberattacks and preventive measures.
Visit Only SSL Certified Websites:
Most of the websites on the internet invest in cheap SSL Certificates, which help secure the data of their users and establish a relationship of trust. As a browser, it is essential to visit only SSL certified websites to give back to those website owners who invested in customer security and encourage other websites to do the same.
Ensure your Browser is Safe and Updated:
There are many web browsers available in the market, but not all are as secure as the other. It is essential to install secure browsers. There may be times when you notice unknown toolbars on your web browser that appeared but weren’t added by you, or that your browser search may be directing you to new pages rather than the search page. All these are signs of Browser Security errors, and it is recommended that you change your browser. Ensure that your web browser is updated and when new updates are released with more unique features and enhanced security.
Update all security software and plugins:
The IT community is a progressive place, valid for both the cybercriminals and the cybersecurity personnel. Having a browser or antivirus in place is only beneficial if it is updated periodically. Hackers continuously try to up their game and so new security patches are released to counter them. So, you must keep your operating systems updated. Always try to reduce the window of time between the time when an update is available and when you install the update, as this is the window of vulnerability that hackers can take advantage of.
You can choose to enable auto-updates so that it becomes less tedious for you as a user. Also, remove and uninstall any plugins that have not been used in a while. You can also enable “Click to Play Plug-ins” in your web browser’s plugin settings to stop running plugins unless they are in use.
Choose strong passwords:
Weak passwords give hackers an accessible and vulnerable spot to breach your personal data. Taking advantage of this loophole, they can access confidential account information, transactional data, etc. Hence it is essential to be aware of the best practices to be followed while choosing a password.
- Do not use the same password for all your different accounts.
- Each password should be a unique combination of characters (both upper and lower case), numbers, and special symbols.
- Do not choose a shared password or that is easy to guess like last name or date of birth, etc.
- Change your password in a span of every few months.
- Use a password manager if you like to remember different passwords.
Use 2-factor Authentication:
Two-factor authentication is essential to ensure that nobody else can impersonate you and is available on most platforms now. Be sure to opt for it wherever possible. In case someone tried to get into your account, you are alerted through a message or email, and you can either confirm if the activity is known or take necessary measures like changing your password, etc. Also, unless authenticated using both the first and second authentication levels, nobody can access your account and be locked out of it. It is also useful if you forget your password, you can use 2-factor authentication to reset your password.
Stay clear of public Wi-Fi:
Public Wi-Fi is not one of the safest ways of browsing the internet. The network operators may have systems in place logging your actions, tracking your data, or gaining unauthorized access to your accounts. At the same time, you sit there unaware and enjoying the free service they are supposedly providing to you, while they may be making money off you by selling your information. VPN’s may come in handy if you need to connect to public Wi-Fi, but otherwise, you should avoid using public Wi-Fi.
Manage your Browser Cookies:
Whenever you visit a website, some small packets of data are stored by them on your computer, which they use the next time you log in, so you can start from where you left. Over time, this data can create patterns about your online behavior and be misused to violate your privacy. Hence as a safety measure, clear your cookies after regular time intervals and delete old stored cookies.
Regulate your browsing habits:
- It is essential to be able to differentiate secure websites from non-secure ones. A lock on the left end of the address bar represents that SSL secures the website, so it is safe to browse. One way is to View SSL Certificate Details in Browser if you wish to know further about the certificate details.
- In case of any suspicion, do not continue with any transaction and do not reveal any confidential data. Be wary of the links you click on a website as they may be malware infested.
- Torrenting websites are easy spreaders of malware and other files infected with viruses. Once such a file is downloaded and run on your system, the malware owner can take over your computer and misuse everything on your system.
- As a rule, restrict the amount of data you share on the internet, mostly personal and confidential data. The lesser you fill Details in Browser, the less likely it is to get misused.
- While exiting a website, be sure to log out of your account rather than just closing the tab or browser window. In many websites, closing the browser is not equivalent to logging out and can act as a loophole for hackers to take advantage of.
In nutshell, with cybercrimes on the rise, our safety is in our hands, and it is a must to be aware and careful while browsing the internet. It is better to be safe than sorry, so pay heed to the above tips and ensure your time on the internet is enjoyable, productive, and secure. Read more about preventive measures against cybercrime.