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Browser Security: What You Need To Know

  1. Crush

    Crush Tech Member Tech Member Elite Member mvp

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    Browser Security: What You Need To Know

    As anyone who knows about these things will tell you, the first thing you should do when concerned with security is watch where you go on the internet.

    Sometimes that's not so easy and malicious sites can infect you by way of a drive by attack among a myriad of other attacks centering on your browser.

    If you are using Internet Explorer you are especially susceptible to these attacks because of the fact that the Windows built in browser has the largest target on its back.

    There are many alternatives to Internet Explorer that will ultimately increase your security. Which one you use is entirely up to you. A few favorites of mine are based on the Chromium Engine

    Google Chrome, the Google developed web browser which is available for download here boasts a wide variety of security features including:

    a full list is available here and for the uber geeky among us the technical details are available from Google in this in depth article

    Another open source browser based on the Chromium engine that is a close contender to Google Chrome is SRWare Iron. You can obtain SRWare Iron from here

    Iron brings to the table many of the same security features as Chrome but strips out some of the less desirable features and problems contained in Chrome (in the eyes of some users and developers). A browser vs browser comparison between Chrome and Iron can be found here

    Yet another alternative browser I'm sure you've all heard of is Mozilla's Firefox. Firefox also improves upon the security of Internet Explorer however it runs on a different engine than the two previously mentioned.

    You can read about all the security innovations of the Mozilla development team here and download the latest version of Firefox from here.


    Browser Security Through Add-Ons


    Ok so you have your nifty new web browser and you're ready to hit the internet? Not so fast. Do you want to make it even more secure? I hope you answered yes because that's what we're going to do! Even if you are a die hard Internet Explorer fan these add-ons will make your browsing experience a safe one.

    There are a variety of add-ons to enhance protection and make your trips around the internet safer. A few directly affect what runs, others prevent annoying pop ups that may lead to malware. In my opinion they're all essentials for any browser.

    First let's talk about a favorite of mine: Ad-Block Plus. I hate ads. They're annoying, they get in my way when I'm trying to write articles like this and many of them on the darker sides of the internet can lead to malware and a not so fun time.

    Somebody thought along the same lines as me and came up with an add-on for Mozilla Firefox and Chromium based browsers as well as Internet Explorer.

    Adblock Plus is available here from their website. As described in their getting started writeup it allows you to over time add filters to block all ads from specific websites, specific ads, or nothing at all. You can also add block lists maintained by other people.

    You can obtain Adblock Plus from the official Mozilla Add-Ons database here and the Google Chrome extension here.

    Next, along the same lines of AdBlock is FlashBlock. This is another content filtering add-on except for Flash elements. Specific information on what it blocks and how it accomplishes it is available on the mozdev page along with a variety of information on installing the add on and troubleshooting. It is also available as a Chrome extension here.

    Yet another content filtering add-on which blocks Javascript Java and Flash from running based on your settings is NoScript. A tutorial video from CNet is available here and a complete rundown on NoScript's features and a tutorial on its use is available here.

    NoScript is available on the Mozilla official add-ons page here. Unfortunately there is no word on when NoScript will be ported to the Chromium engine but, if you're looking for the same functionality try NotScript

    The last component of any secure browser I'd like to talk about is a Site Advisor. What one of these does is warn you when you're about to visit a malicious or possibly malicious site. This is meant to go alongside some of the inherent security features we talked about earlier for malicious site blocking.

    The added advantage using a third party add on for this is you get the benefit of the user community as a whole contributing feedback on sites which determines whether or not something is malicious, not a blacklist within the browser.

    Two I've used on the variety of machines I have in my home are McAfee SiteAdvisor and Web of Trust.

    Using one of these will mitigate the risk of bringing up a malicious site and stop the malware before it even starts.

    That about covers browser security. If you configure these add-ons and use them to their full advantage you will get the most out of your browsing experience with the least worry.
    georgeks and JMH like this.
  2. Wolfeymole

    Wolfeymole Elite PCHF Werewolf Tech Member Elite Member PCHF $Donator

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