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Computer Security Tips

Computer Security Tips

Posted in Tips

Almost all computers have web browsers installed in them. These browsers are used to surf the net and perform a lot of online activities. A few of the most popular web browsers are Internet explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari. Since these web browsers are also used for online banking and other financial transactions, or your computer may have sensitive and confidential documents stored in them, it is very important that these browsers are secured. This is to prevent malwares, spywares, adwares from being downloaded and installed in your computer without your knowledge. This could result in catastrophic results in the long run.

ActiveX, Java, VBScript, JavaScript are some of the software features that add certain functionality to the web browser. But they can also add vulnerability to your system too. Some browsers allow these technologies to be disabled, while some allow the use to be customized on the basis of requirement only.

Let us see how some of the most popular browsers can be secured more.

1. Internet Explorer (IE):

Undoubtedly one of the most popular and most used browser around the world. The browser also supports a whole lot of softwares and plugins, which makes it a little more vulnerable than the rest.
To change settings for IE, select the internet options from Tools. Then select the security tab.
On this tab various security zones are on display. Select each zone and use custom level protection for all. When clicking on the custom level, a second window opens up, which allows to customize your settings for each zone. Clicking on the default level button and putting the slider control to High will make your browsers more secure, and also disable several features like ActiveX, Java and so on that makes it vulnerable.

For the trusted zone sites, which lists sites that you trust, set the security level to medium. Once you are fully assured about a site you can add it in the trusted zone, this will enable extra functionality for those sites.
The privacy tab is used for cookie settings. Use advanced button and select automatic cookie handling override. While session cookies are less risky than the persistent ones, it is better to use manual handling of cookies most of the times. In certain cases you may use ‘always allow’ option.

Use the advanced tab to disable “Enable third-party browser extension” option. Also turn off sound in web-pages option as that needs processing un-trusted data. Also select “Always show Encoded Address” option to protect against IDN spoofing.

2. Mozilla Firefox:

Mozilla Firefox is very similar to internet explorer and is also another very popular browser around the world.
Select Tools and then Options to edit Mozilla settings.

Select “Always Ask me” where to save files option. This cuts down the risk of files getting downloaded and installed without your knowledge.

The privacy category has the browser history and cookies option. Disable the option to remember anything like your entry in forms and search bar. History of your web browsing can also be disabled.

For Cookies select ‘ask me’ every time for better security reason. In the privacy option check the tracking option that tells “tell the website I DO not want to be tracked”, and never remember history. In the security turn off remember password option and you can turn on a “master password” option.

3. Apple Safari:

Apple Safari web browser supports most features similar to Mozilla Firefox. The features for Mac OS X and Windows are mostly similar. To change settings you need to select preferences first. Blocking pop-up windows will be the first step to securing your browser more. In the download section, disabling “open safe file after download” will be a good option. It is better to use ‘AutoFill’ options only with appropriate protective measures.
Disabling options like plug-ins and Java will make it safer. Also disabling the first three options that appear on the security tab will be safer. Disabling JavaScript and Cookies will be a better option.

4. Other browsers:

Many browsers are there for use. They include Netscape navigator, Opera, Google Chrome etc. All these browsers have security options. Use their settings tab to select and deselect the options that we have already discussed. Moreover use their help pages or tutorials to understand their security set-up and act accordingly. the most important features in keeping your browser secure is that do not allow add ones, do not allow any form of download without your knowing, and do not allow browser to save password and cookies.

Conclusion:

Web browsers are man-made and will have vulnerability. It depends on our discretion and simple use of common sense to make them secure. Using multiple browsers and dedicating each for separate purpose will be an excellent idea. Most importantly do not click on any link at random.

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