If you are going to browse the internet, it doesn’t matter if you are watching cat videos or checking email, there is always a security risk. For the majority of users, the browser that you use to access the internet is taken for granted and we trust, or assume, that they are automatically set to be secure. That is not the case.
Most browsers, by default, are set to be right in the middle of the road of security. So if you are wanting to make sure you are a little more secure while browsing, there are some recommended tweaks that you can make that will enhance your security. Now, the tweaks that I will be covering here are specific to Google’s Chrome browser but most browser have similar settings. Chrome is just a very popular browser and it’s one that I am very familiar with.
All of these tweaks will need to be made in the settings tab, so the first think you will need to do is to click on the Menu button in the top right corner (button with 3 horizontal bars) and select “settings” towards the bottom. This will open a new tab for the settings menu.
First on the list is your sync settings, if you use a Google login with your Chrome browser. If you do, then Chrome is able to sync your settings, bookmarks, etc., to a chrome browser on any device. In order to do this, the information that is being synced is stored on Google’s servers and transmitted over the internet to the new browser. So, it is highly recommended that you only sync what you absolutely, must have!
To do this, Click on “Advanced Sync Settings” and then select “Choose What To Sync” in the dropdown menu. Uncheck anything that you do not want to sync and then click “OK”.
To get more in depth you will now need to expand the settings menu by clicking on “Show advanced settings…” at the very bottom of the screen. This is where you can change the settings regarding plugins, cookies and more. Basically, all of the settings that are easily exploitable if someone is going to attack.
Click on “Content Settings” under “Privacy” and set the following options:
- Cookies: Keep local data until you quit your browser (this clears your cache for every browser closed).
- Plugins: Let me choose when to run plugin content.
- Location: Do not allow any sites to track your physical location (add any sites to the exceptions list that are needed).
- Notifications: Do not allow any site to show notifications.
Under the privacy section, you should change the following:
- Protect You And Your Device From Dangerous Sites
- Send A Do Not Track Request With Your Browsing Traffic (you have to OK this after you click the check box)
And if you want to be extra cautious and want the best security, un-check these:
- Use A Web Service To Help Resolve Navigation Errors
- Use A Prediction Service To Help Complete Searches And URLs Typed In The Address Bar Or The App Launcher Search Box
- Prefetch Resources To Load Pages More Quickly
- Use A Web Service To Help Resolve Spelling Errors
- Automatically Send Usage Statistics And Crash Reports To Google
Now, I know that the password saving feature of Chrome can be really convenient but it’s not the most secure option for managing your passwords. My personal favorite password manager is LastPass. So, for Chrome, I recommend un-checking the boxes for both settings under Passwords and checking out LastPass to manage your passwords.
- Enable Autofill To Fill Out Web Forms In A Single Click
- Offer To Save Your Web Passwords
If you are wanting to be even more cautious then I highly recommend un-checking “Continue Running Background Apps When Google Chrome Is Closed”. This will ensure that any Chrome applications are closed and prevent them from gaining access to other services on your desktop.
Once you have made all of the necessary changes, simply close the settings tab to save those changes and continue about your business. Of course, if you are still feeling uneasy, but you really want to continue using Chrome, then just always open Chrome in Incognito Mode by right clicking on the icon and selecting “New Incognito Window”.
Incognito Mode will prevent the browser from storing any data and tracking you but just a fair warning, THIS DOES NOT HIDE YOUR ACTIVITY FROM YOUR IT DEPARTMENT or service provider. If complete anonymity is your goal then you need to research the Tor Browser/Tor Network or look into purchasing access to a VPN service.
By following these tips you will definitely increase your browsing security but just remember, when on the internet there is always a risk. The goal behind security is the mitigate the risks as much as possible and avoid activity that makes you an easy target.
Wallen, J. (2016). Google Chrome Security Tips for the Paranoid at Heart. TechRepublic. Retrieved, 28 June 2016, from: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/google-chrome-security-tips-for-the-paranoid-at-heart/?