Browsing online safely

Everyone uses the internet. For work. For school. For fun. But do you ever stop to think about the dangers you might face when browsing the web?

There are many things to be aware of: viruses, spyware, adware and ransomware are all forms of malware that can infect your computer. But taking the right steps can help to avoid becoming a victim and make browsing online much safer for you and your family.

Popular web browsers offer some protection

The most popular web browsers are: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari. These all have programs, settings, updates and other capabilities that help protect you against security vulnerabilities and warn you about potential threats. You can also install software to help increase the security of your web browser, such as Spybot Search & Destroy, Web of Trust, and Symantec Endpoint Protection.

infograph about browsing online safely

General guidelines to make your online browsing more secure:

  • Use secure websites. Such as web addresses that start with “https://”. The “s” means it comes from a “secure socket layer” - in other words a website that encrypts its data.
  • Don’t just rely on private browsing. It doesn’t stop others from monitoring your online activity nor does it completely hide your identity. Your network administrator and internet service provider are still able to identify you, for example.
  • Try other search engines. DuckDuckGo is a good example of a web browser that doesn’t record IP addresses and doesn’t use cookies, nor does it pass on referral information to sites you visit. You can also take a look at StartPage which operates similarly.
  • Consider using a virtual private network (VPN). Using a VPN as admissible while browsing greatly increases security. While these are commonly used by businesses, a number of VPN services can be purchased to use on personal devices.
  • Use different browsers for different activities. If an attacker compromises one web browser that you use, they still wouldn’t be able to cross over onto another web browser. So, for example, you could use Firefox for general browsing and commerce sites like Amazon, and Safari/Google for sites that don’t require sensitive information like streaming music or information sites like Wikipedia. You could then have a dedicated browser such as Internet Explorer reserved solely for your confidential information, like your online banking needs.
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