Security Tips & Advice on Safe Internet Browsing Habits

private_browsing If there is one item that pretty much everyone is familiar with on the Internet, it is the very thing we use to browse it, the Web Browser. Whether you use Firefox, Chrome, Safari, on a Desktop or Mobile device, this article concerns you. How you use a Web Browser has implications about your security position and any information that you handle.

1. Do not trust your browser.

It’s simple really, there are just as many ways to compromise a browser and its host operating system as there are to skin the mythical cat. Software exploits for all major browsers are being developed and sold on the black market and also officially by well-known businesses. This means that even if you update regularly and follow good security practices, you are still at risk of getting your browser and its host machine compromised. Once that happens, all bets are off. Therefore it makes even more sense to develop good habits when it comes to using your web browser.

2. Never store passwords in your browser Password Manager.

Yes, storing them, stops you from having to remember them. Well, that’s lovely, guess who else doesn’t have to remember them either? Mr./Ms. Random J Hacker. All he/she has to do is compromise your browser to get your login credentials to your Bank, Insurance Company or Company VPN. There is an option in your settings which can stop the browser from ever asking you to save them. Where should you store them? Use an encrypted off-line password-manager and keep its database on an encrypted USB stick/drive.

3. Learn how to enable and disable particular browser extensions or plug-ins.

Malicious browser extensions bring about security risks as they often lead to system infection. There are more bugs and exploits for browser extensions and plug-ins than you can conceive. There are many cases where these extensions are needed and cases where they’re not needed. Learn to recognize the difference.

4. Frequently clear your browser cache, saved passwords, cookies, history and form data

Your browser will store data while you are using it. What websites you’ve browsed, any cookies from sites you have visited, forms that you have filled and passwords that you have saved (see number 2), the content of visited websites, such as pictures, videos, scripts and text content etc. All of that data can be used to do bad things. Your browser will work fine without that data. If you’re afraid of losing a page you’ve visited just bookmark it.

5. Do not carelessly give your data and information to a web site.

In the course of browsing the Internet, many times will you be asked for various bits of information. It could be something as simple as a user name and a password but could go as far as requesting your full name, address, phone number, email, names of siblings and so on. Just because a web site is asking for that information does not mean they actually NEED IT. Ask yourself whether that Vintage Cars forum really needs to know where you live. If you do not intend to buy something or do not intend to do any business transactions with a website, refrain from providing such information.

6. Install HTTPS Anywhere

When data is transmitted to and from a website, it can be done in a secure way or an insecure way. The secure way will use HTTPS, the insecure one will use HTTP. When data is transmitted with HTTP, a hacker could intercept your traffic and read it or modify it at will, while you’re browsing. If HTTPS is used instead, intercepted traffic is encrypted and cannot be read. That’s a gross over-simplification but will suffice in this context. Not all websites support HTTPS but by using the browser extension HTTPSAnywhere you’ll automatically force any website that you visit (that supports HTTPS) to use HTTPS by default. Remember always check with your IT department before installing anything to your machine.


web_address_internet_browsingSome simple habits will make your browsing experience and information safer. It is easier to avoid bad habits than to break them. Now is the time to give up these bad security habits. Use technology tools available to move your organizations security habits in the right direction. Practicing these habits does not guarantee that your browser won’t be compromised but at least you won’t be the “low hanging fruit.”

On June 23, 2015, posted in: Blog, Security by

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