We all use web browsers on a daily basis, so it is important to know how to keep any confidential details about you secret. Unfortunately, there are malicious actors out there who try to exploit every flaw in the applications used on the Internet. Browsers are regularly updated to become more stable, but hackers are still able to trick people into downloading a virus.
1. Use Your Browser’s Security Settings
If you’re reading this on your PC, you’re probably doing so with your default browser. This means you’re probably using either Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Safari.
A good start for internet safety is to use the inbuilt features. These browsers all have their own browsing security features. Make sure you have any security features turned on and at their maximum security settings.
2. Update your browser
Criminals use vulnerabilities as opportunities. To keep your device protected, upgrade your browser software to the most recent version. Browsers are modified to patch critical bugs each month, frequently resulting in critical software defects for many users. For this reason, you should make sure that automatic updates are turned on, so you do not have to remember to check for updates in the future.
3. Do not use software or hardware which is no longer supported
Browsers such as internet explorer and operating systems like Windows 7 are no longer supported. This is one of the most common reasons for a ransomware infection. If your software, operating system or device is out of the update cycle, replace it immediately.
4. Audit your browser extensions.
Downloaded from the Chrome Web Store, browser plugins are basically optional updates. Some of these provide security improvements not included in the browser by default.
However, you should be aware that browser extensions can also be a source of malware. Make sure that you only download extensions from verified, official marketplaces like the Google Chrome Web Store. If you already have extensions installed, you should audit them and delete any you don’t regularly use.
Always check what permissions the extensions require and if they make sense. For example, a calculator extension shouldn’t need access to your camera. It is also worth reading the reviews on any plugin to check that they seem genuine.
5. Install Antivirus
Having a paid anti-virus programme installed on your computer would provide you with extra protection. Well-known names in antivirus include, Cisco, Avast, Norton and McAfee. However, you should not become reckless just because you have antivirus installed.
6. Be careful what you click on
Advertisers try to persuade people that their PC has a virus and they have to purchase software in order to fix the problem.
By leaving yourself open to hackers, you open yourself up to viruses, malware, ransomware, spyware and more. If you inadvertently click a link that you are worried might cause harm to your computer, run a virus scan immediately. It’s easier to conduct a “full scan” rather than a quick scan even though it will take longer. Take a break and let the scan finish before you continue using your PC.
7. Start using a password manager
As a person who shops online or frequently uses a computer, it is likely that you will be using several usernames and passwords for different accounts online. Many people become complacent and start using the same password for everything. This is a very bad idea, if your password is compromised on one account you have also left other accounts with the same password vulnerable.
A password manager saves your passwords in an encrypted format. You can then have a single, very strong password for your password manager and you never have to remember your other passwords. Many password managers also come with browser extensions to autofill your passwords on websites as your browse.
Some good options for password managers are OnePass and LastPass, both of which have fully functional free versions.
8. Use Common Sense
This is the easiest and most effective way to protect yourself. Think carefully about what you do online, the websites you visit, the links you click, the software you download. Just as you would look both ways when you cross the street, you should think twice before performing any new action online.
We hope this has been a useful overview of how to stay safe online. Be aware, be safe and be sensible. Stay safe.