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How to Secure Your Web Browser

The web browser is possibly the weakest link in the entire security chain. It is the software product that is on the front line, the one that will inevitably bear the brunt of any Internet attacks and as such, attackers focus a lot of effort on making the browser a portal into your system.

Safer Surfing

Securing your web browser is not too difficult. There are plenty of options available, including some third-party add-ons you can use to improve security. For this tutorial, we are using Chrome.

  1. Start by opening Chrome and clicking on the three vertical dots in the top right of the browser windows. This is the link to the available options; from the list choose Settings.
  2. It is generally recommended that you sign into Chrome using a Google account, as this can greatly improve the overall security of the browser. For example, when you sign in, under the Sign In section in Settings, click on the Advanced Sync Settings button, the first option available.
  3. With the Advanced Sync Settings box open, select the option for Encrypt all synced data with your own sync passphrase. Enter a secure passphrase you can remember in the boxes provided and this will enhance the security of all data synced between chrome and the Internet.
  4. Look to the bottom of the Settings page and click the link for Show Advanced Settings. The first new section to appear under the Advanced settings is Privacy. Start by clicking on the Content Settings button.
  5. Content Settings allows a greater degree of control over Cookies, JavaScript, Flash, Pop-ups, your computer's microphone and even the webcam. It is extensive list so we can't go into all the options within this limited space. For maximum security, disable JavaScript and Flash and make sure the mic and webcam are protected too.
  6. Click the Done button when you are finished with Content Settings, to return you to the Chrome Settings page. Within Privacy still, ensure the last option, Send a "Do Not Track" request, is ticked. This will stop any tracking elements from monitoring your browsing activities.
  7. Just Under the previous step's tick box, it is also recommended to untick the two Passwords and Forms boxes that offer to enable Autofill and Save you Passwords. Whilst it is a pain to constantly enter passwords, this will stop any hijack Chrome attacks from gaining your usernames and passwords.
  8. Under the Downloads section, it is an idea to tick the box Ask where to save each file before downloading. Again this can be a bit of pain for the user; however it stops malicious background downloads from infecting your system, giving you more control and the ability to stop the process.
  9. To the left of the Chrome Settings page you can see links for Extensions, Settings and About; click the Extensions link. With the Extension page open, scroll down to the bottom and click the Get More Extensions link.
  10. With the Chrome Web Store launched, via the Extensions link, search for Adblock Plus. Within the results, click in the Add to Chrome button on first option for Adblock Plus. This will install an advertising blocker within Chrome, securing you from any threats from Internet advertising. Do the same for Blur (anti-tracking add-on) and HTTPS Everywhere.