“Safe Surfing” Starts With Your Browser

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CBC internet safety

Along with using a trusted antivirus and firewall software package, the browser you choose to search and surf the Web can significantly impact online security. To protect yourself and your business against hackers, choose a web browser that offers the best security features.

No one browser can offer 100 percent protection all of the time, but some are more robust than others when it comes to minimizing security risks. Based on research conducted by Entrepreneur Magazine, CNet and PCMagazine, these three consistently got the highest marks for delivering a safer surfing environment:

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox is packed with security options to combat attacks when browsing, including built-in protection against phishing, spyware and more. This free, fast browser from the non-profit Mozilla Foundation automatically warns you when a webpage you visit has been flagged as a phishing page or a copycat of a legitimate site. It also tells you when you encounter a malware website designed to harm your computer.

Firefox also offers private web browsing protection, including “undercover” private surfing and the ability to inform sites that you don’t want them to track your online behavior. The “Do-not-track” feature keeps your online activity trail out of the hands of other companies, including advertisers.

You can also block pesky pop-up windows, which hackers often use to infect computers with viruses and spyware. Keep in mind, though, that blocking pop-ups can interfere with websites that use pop-ups for key features, including banking sites.

 

While Firefox doesn’t crash often, it can be somewhat of a memory hog.

Google Chrome

The most-used browser in the U.S. is the king of loading speed and support for HTML5.  Chrome’s arsenal of security and privacy features include malware and phishing protection, which tip you off to sites that Google deems potentially malicious.

The browser’s “sandboxing” feature helps stop malware from installing itself on your computer and then potentially ripping off private data from your hard drive or spying on your online activities. Chrome also protects you from accidentally landing on the wrong site — which could be a malicious copycat site — when you misspell a URL.

 

Do you prefer to browse under the radar? Chrome’s “incognito mode” has you (mostly covered (except for the NSA), by making sure one of your website visits or downloads are recorded in your download and browsing histories. Additionally, cookies created while going incognito automatically self-destruct after you close your incognito windows. You can also customize your privacy settings in Chrome, including cookies, plugins, JavaScript and images on a site-by-site basis.

 

Chrome’s “Do Not Track” privacy feature isn’t particularly easy to find and set up. Also, unlike Firefox’s “Master” password feature, Chrome doesn’t allow you to encrypt your saved credit card and password information, which can be a problem if you let the browser remember your passwords, leaving them basically wide open to anyone who uses your computer.

Internet Explorer 10
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 10 debuted with Windows 8 and is now available for Windows 7. Users have more control over their privacy than with past versions. They’re also now protected via the new Enhanced Protected Mode from cyber criminals seeking to tamper with system settings, install malware, access information from corporate intranets and snoop personal information.IE 10 also helps protect against cross-site scripting attacks. These occur when hackers deploy malicious scripts to snatch private information about site visitors. Cross-scripting also allows cyber criminals to hijack your web account, capture your keystrokes and, worse, impersonate you online and make unauthorized purchases, etc. The browser’s “Do Not Track” and “InPrivate” mode features also keeps users’ web activity from being tracked online by third parties.

One drawback: While Internet Explorer’s ActiveX technology is designed to make it easier to play animations, videos and other files, it can also be used as a hacking tool for cyber criminals. The good news is you can customize your browser to allow ActiveX to run only on the sites you choose.

One final note: Add another layer of security to your web activity by only visiting sites you trust.

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