Cybersecurity is one of the most important, least talked about issues today. There’s a real imbalance with technology as it hurtles forward, changing, evolving, adapting, improving and extending the sphere of its influence. The imbalance is that on the less glamorous front, the practicalities of using that technology and the potential risks and hazards that present themselves in using it, there isn’t the motivation or the popular discourse present to keep up. We have technology in a consumable state that isn’t anywhere near secure, that isn’t understood by its users and that could seriously lead to some security issues further down the road. This is really problematic and throws up a lot of questions about how the tech industry should change their definitions of ‘launch ready’.
In the meantime though, you as an individual user need to do some of the heavy liftings for yourself. By this I mean researching the technology you use, understanding the risks and doing what needs to be done to protect yourself. One area of vulnerability that you might not have thought about much in the past is your browser. In this article we’ll take a look at some common browser security threats and see how you can handle them. Let’s get started!
VPN’s and Proxies
VPN is an abbreviation for ‘Virtual Private Network’. A VPN gives you a “private network,” and a “virtual location.” The private network completely fences you off and prevents unauthorized access to your network. Your location will be wherever the VPN server is located with your IP address masked and your connection encrypted”.
Want to get around work computers and restrictions? A proxy could help. A proxy is a defined gateway providing anonymous browsing and allows you to get around some restrictions. For example, Smartproxy services can help you to mask your IP address with proxies. They act as intermediaries between your device and any website you’re trying to access. In turn, proxies allow you to secure your personal data from sites that might be collecting it without your consent. When you hide your IP address, you can ensure that no one checks your approximate location based on the internet service provider you use.
This may seem an unusual way to look at it but your browser history really is a complete directory of all of the places that you visit regularly on the internet. To cybercriminals, the browser history is a like a guide for how to most efficiently target you in particular. An amazing amount of data about your browsing patterns, all the way down to which hours of the day you are statistically most likely to be on X site, can be garnered from your history. Knowing the sorts of sites you visit can also give criminals good covers under which to commit fraud or disguise payments out of your accounts. It’s just very valuable data that you can’t afford to leave lying around. Clearing your browser cache is a fast and effective fix-all for the dangers associated with keeping a log of your internet behavior lying around. You would be wise to do just that right after you’ve done anything confidential, like online banking. You can either make it a manual task, which is easy to do, or do automatic clearances, which is even easier to do.
Malicious Pop Ups Or Redirects
Pop up ads are a pain and some sites are pretty appallingly slack about ensuring that their users experience isn’t completely destroyed by these attention seeking advertising methods. Normally, a single click will deal with a pesky pop-up, but sometimes these sorts of ads and redirects appear with malicious intent. They try to corner users into a particular website that is unsecured to facilitate malware downloads and other violations of privacy. Firstly, you need to be able to have a base-line knowledge of when an ad is trying to lead you on: anything advertising free money or prizes and anything making vague warnings about your computer should be ignored. Secondly, you should disable pop-ups, which can be done in your browser. For even more in-depth coverage, an ad-blocker would also be effective. Pop-ups are rarely used by legitimate sites and when they are, you can always re-activate pop-ups for that page only.
Saved Passwords And Personal Information
There’s a problem with this particular issue which is that the solution to it is something which can make life a lot more tedious for internet users and is mostly not done for just that reason. Having passwords, login details, user information and other data saved in your browser and auto-filled for websites is so convenient and safes all the fuss of inputting your details. The problem, of course, is that if somehow the security of your device is compromised, there isn’t any trickery needed to obtain your most sensitive data, it’s already there, unlocking itself for the intruder. I think that in general, if you use a desktop or other device that never leaves your home you are a bit safer using automatic logins and the like. However, really you ought never to save these details and instead to enter manually each time. If you are having the classic issue of an overload of passwords in your brain, try using some password management software to make things a bit easier for you. There are free and paid versions of this sort of software online and, given how important passwords are on all of your devices, this is a good way to keep on top of things.
Using Your Cookies
Cookies are another quirk of the internet that are only now just about coming into the collective conscious as something important to understand and be wary about. Wariness is definitely appropriate when you know that cookies can be analyzed by intruders and used to paint an image of you and your browsing habits, in the same way that your history does. The end result is that something needs to be done to protect you better. There has been a troublesome tip that has been distributed widely in response to fears about cookies and how they can be used against users. Being told to disable cookies is a pretty poor fix when you try and reconcile it with how many websites demand cookies to be used. Instead, you should regularly wipe all of your cookies. Though you will have to keep responding to cookie requests on websites, it’s still definitely the safest and simplest route.
Hopefully, some of these tips and tricks will help you as you go about defending yourself from browser intrusion. It’s far better to be slightly overcautious than to be caught up in any sort of trouble. Cybercrime can be devastating in a way that you might not realize until it has happened to you.
Ashley Halsey is a professional tech writer, working at LuckyAssignments and GumEssays, writing on all sorts of topics relating to marketing strategy and technology for business. She spends most of her spare time traveling with her family and gathering information for her latest piece of writing.