Web browser is used to access the information and resources on the World Wide Web. It is a software application used to trace and display the web pages. They are also the first step to both increasing your online privacy and controlling your personal information. Web browsers are used not only on the personal computers, laptops but are also used on mobile phones to access the information. Always use the latest updated browsers. Today, web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Apple Safari are installed on almost all computers. And it is easy to notice the increasing threat coming from online criminals that try to take advantage of web browsers and their vulnerabilities. Women who are technically unaware about the risk may use the browser carelessly and end up being a victim of cyber threats. Lets get to know the facts about browser security.

Why to secure your web browser?

Securing browser is the first step that needs to be taken in order to assure secure online protection. There is an increase in number of threats taking advantage of vulnerabilities present in the web browsers through use of malicious websites. This problem is made worse by a number of factors, including the following:

  • Many women computer users are not aware of the click on the web links.
  •  Software and third party software packages installed combined increases the number of vulnerabilities
  •  Many websites request their users enable features or install more software, third- party software which doesn’t get security updates putting the computer at additional risk.
  •  Many users do not know how to configure their web browsers securely.

Web Browser Risks

The browsers are enabled by default with some of the features to improve our online sessions, but at the same time these options create a big security risk for our operating systems and databases. The online criminals use available vulnerabilities in our browser and in its additional features to control operating systems, retrieve private data, damage important system files or install data stealing software.

Some of the features are important for browser’s functionality and the user should understand their importance and should enable or disable for securing the browser.

Browser cookies

A cookie is a small piece of text sent to a browser by a website accessed through the browser. The browser stores this data and uses it in accessing the features of the website or then next time the same site is visited to make the access more personalized. If a website uses cookies for authentication, then an attacker may be able to obtain unauthorized access to that site by obtaining the cookie.

Cookie storing the search requests

  • Shanti visited a movie website and indicated that she is interested in comedie The cookies sent by the website remembered her choice and when she visited the same website next time, she sees comedies are displayed on the website.

Cookie storing login information

  •  When users log into a website, they enter their username and password into a login page and, if they are authenticated, a cookie is saved that allows the website to know the users are already logged in as they navigate around the site. This permits them access to any functionality that may be available only to logged-in users, probably the primary use of cookies at this time.

Pop-ups

Popups are a small window pane that opens automatically on your browser. Generally, they show advertising, which can be from legitimate company, but also may be scams or dangerous software. Pop-ups mislead you to click the buttons on the pop-up window. But sometimes advertisers create pop-up window that look similar to a close or cancel option so whenever user choose such options the button performs an unexpected action like opening another pop-up window, performing unauthorized commands on your system.

Clicking on popup with attractive offers may charge you without notification

  • Seeta was listening music online from XYZ@music.com, after some couple of hours later she came across a Pop-up which tells to download the latest songs with only one click. She filled the form displayed in my browser download section. After a month she saw her credit card bill information which is showing some unauthorized charges. She was very upset and surprised, called repeatedly to that particular website where she downloaded the songs but it was of no use.

Scripts:

Scripts are used to create websites more interactive. It is most commonly used as part of web browsers, whose implementations allow client-side scripts to interact with the user, control the browser, communicate asynchronously, and alter the document content that is displayed. The same script can be used for inclusion of malicious code which takes control of the web browser there in by allowing accessing the files of the system. It may cause damage to the system by accessing the vulnerabilities in the browser.

  • Plug-ins:Plug-ins is the in-built applications for use in the web browser and Netscape web browser had developed the NPAPI standard for developing plug-ins. Later this standard is used by many web browsers. Plug-ins are same to ActiveX controls but cannot be executed outside of a web browser. Adobe Flash is an example of an application that is available as a plug-in inside the web browser.

Avoid downloading unnecessary plug-ins.

  • For example, users may download and install a plug-in like Adobe Flash Player to view a web page which contains a video or an interactive game. But the plugin may be installed with a key logger which captures all the key strokes of the user typing in the browser and send it to the attacker.

In-browser privacy settings

Almost all browsers have in-browser privacy settings for users. These options include private browsing, controlling activity logs, deleting cookies, and others. However, browser privacy options are not going to protect from remote spying or monitoring if an abusive person is using spyware software. 

Private browsing

It allows users to surf the internet without the browser collecting history. This is helpful if a survivor is concerned that someone may be monitoring their internet activity by going through the browser history. However, private browsing will not prevent someone from knowing what you are doing online if they are looking over your shoulder or are monitoring your device with spyware. In google chrome it is incognito mode, in Internet explorer it is in private. In Mozilla firefox and in safari has new private window for keeping private mode browsing.

Do not track 

It is a setting that allows users to opt-out of third-party tracking, such as advertisers or sites on a website that you’re visiting. This feature is only for third-party tracking, which often tracks users for behavioral advertising purposes; it doesn’t prevent the website that you’re visiting to collect information about you. All browsers settings have do not track option which can be enabled.

Deleting browser history

Keep in mind that if someone is monitoring your computer use, deleting your browser history may appear suspicious. However, regularly deleting your browsing history can increase privacy.

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