Web browsers are one of the most common targets for malicious hackers. It is vital that you have a line of defense from people who want to steal and exploit your personal information. So what can you do to safely surf the web? Here are 6 things you should take into consideration.
Always Keep Your Browser Updated
Browsers are frequently patched when vulnerabilities are discovered. Make sure that you are updating it when new patches are released in order to protect yourself from security issues in the browser itself. You can even turn on automatic updates so you don’t have to worry about constantly checking for updates.
Install an Ad Blocker
Popup ads are both annoying and potentially dangerous. They can contain malware which will infect your computer, or lead you to unsecure websites. You can avoid this by adding an ad blocking extension to your browser.
Cookies are files on your browser that save personal information such as accounts, passwords and browser history. Cookies store a plethora of information that hackers want to get their hands on. By clearing this information from your browser, you will reduce the amount of sensitive details a hacker can steal from you.
Going off the previous point, cookies are used to store account information such as usernames and passwords. Never let your browser save this information! Instead, use LastPass, a much more secure way to store these details. It also comes with a great feature that allows you to generate a strong random password using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. LastPass is completely free for personal use, and businesses pay about $2.50 per user per month.
Check links before clicking them
Get into the habit of checking your links before clicking on them. There are all sorts of ways hackers can manipulate you with links. For example, you may receive an unsolicited email from a seemingly legitimate company, such as Amazon saying your account has been compromised and you need to visit a site to change your password. Then they provide you with a link that is similar to the real Amazon website with a form to enter a new password. Before you know it, you have been tricked into sending your login credentials to a hacker. Always make sure the link is real! Hackers can send a link with the most minute difference and many people will not notice it is a fake site.
Hovering over a link will let you see where it leads. Simply look in the bottom-left corner of your web browser while hovering over a link to see it in full.
Another point of interest is to avoid clicking on links that have been shortened by a service such as bit.ly or tinyurl. You cannot tell what it will lead to because it masks the address into a shortlink such as bit.ly/123ABC. If you must visit the site, first use a link expander to check where the link will direct.
Equipping your browser with the latest updates and security measures is just one part of the equation. To have the most secure web experience possible, you should also develop smart browsing habits.
Always Use HTTPS
You should always be wary of entering sensitive information to websites that are not secured with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), especially when using sites to make purchases with credit cards. To make sure the site you are on is safe before entering personal details, check the address bar to make sure the URL starts with https instead of http. You should also see a green padlock symbol, which indicates the website is secure and communications are encrypted.