Before you know it, you’ve been surfing the web for hours, but are you confident your browsing habits are safe enough? Check out these top safe browsing tips.
Did you know that one study has found that the average American worker spends about 1.7 hours each workday just browsing the internet? While we aren’t going to delve into the ethics of that number, it’s just the beginning!
Americans then return home from work and hop on Instagram or their news apps and continue browsing or online shopping.
With all this time spent online, the question is, are you safe browsing? Shockingly, there are many risks to random online browsing. Because of this, we’ve put together 7 safe browsing tips to protect you.
1. Select the Right Browser
Having the right browser is step one for online security. Choose a reputable browser and make sure to use the latest version.
Most quality browsers can protect you from basic malware or phishing. However, you should invest in security software to prevent any major cyber attacks.
Commonly used and reputable browsers include Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla, and others. It’s worth researching which browsers offer the most security, for free, when you use them.
2. Consider Using VPN
Do you use WiFi in unsecured or public places? If you do this often, then using a VPN should be a regular habit to protect your information.
Using a VPN encrypts your network connection so that others in the restaurant or hotel can’t see what you’re accessing or hack your computer.
A VPN helps you stay anonymous while you’re online. It creates a private network on your server. The VPN also hides your identity while you surf the web. This means no one can track what you’re doing.
Perhaps the most effective way VPN protects you is that it encrypts all your data. This means that if by an off-chance someone hacks you while you’re using a VPN, they won’t be able to decipher any data.
3. Install Security Browser Extensions
This is a helpful step IF you choose reliable add-ons or plugins to add functionality to your browser. DO NOT install “security extensions” unless you are sure they come from a reputable site.
You can add extensions that protect your passwords while online. You can add extensions and add-ons that block your access to most known malicious sites.
Security browser extensions can even force your browser to HTTPS instead of a default HTTP.
4. Be Proactive About Security Settings
When was the last time you checked your computer or browser’s security settings? If you haven’t been proactive about choosing the security settings, they probably aren’t doing everything they could be to protect you.
Use the menu or preferences tab and customize your security settings.
The options for customizing your browser security will depend largely on which browser you have chosen. No two are exactly the same.
Still, some of the most common options are:
- Turning off the “autofill” option. Autofill automatically stores things like passwords and usernames. This can be dangerous if you’re hacked as it provides easy personal information to hackers.
- Turn off cookies. Do you really need every website you visit to remember you came and send you endless ads about their product? Turning off cookies in your security settings will prevent sites from tracking your browsing history.
- Turn on “block pop-ups.” This will prevent annoying ads from popping up when you visiting websites. However, if you’re unable to download something from a reliable site, it may be because you have turned this feature on.
- Just be aware of what each security feature does to protect you, and any potential negative effects they bring as well.
5. Don’t Click on Unknown Ads
This step goes right along with step 6, but both deserve mentioning. Unless you’re visiting a well-known site like Nike.com, ads on websites can come with all sorts of malware or bugs.
Fortunately, you can install protective apps like those found at https://setapp.com/apps/adguard, and others, that filter out pesky online ads so they aren’t even a temptation.
Ugh, there’s little that’s more annoying than banner ads and video ads when you’re just trying to read a recipe. With security apps like these, those irritating ads won’t even show up.
One of the biggest perks of apps like these are that they let you see clean content pages without all the clutter and distraction of ads. Say goodbye to the days of accidentally clicking on an unwanted ad because they simply cover the website.
Regardless of how you choose to avoid them, pop-up ads can be seriously damaging to your browsing security.
6. Avoid Unknown Downloads
This seems like safe browsing 101, but it’s surprising how many people still download software, images, or programs from unofficial sites. Sadly, no matter how appealing that free app may sound, downloading anything from unofficial sources is always a bad idea.
After all, how do you think websites that offer “free” this and that get those “premium” products at no cost…?
One of the most common sketchy practices that accompany free downloads is developers including an encryption backdoor. That backdoor allows them immediate access to your computer and personal information the moment you open the app or download.
When in doubt, stay away from file-sharing sites and downloads that seem “too good to be true.” Odds are, they are and you’ll be risking an awful lot for that “free” movie.
7. Update Operating Systems Often
Hackers are constantly improving. As soon as they can find a weakness in a computer or browser’s operating system, they exploit it.
Your best defense against new attacks like these is to regularly update your computer operating systems.
When your laptop or software offers an update, do it. Your system updates will usually protect you against attacks with patches and advances designed to keep hackers out.
Safe Browsing: The Most Effective Step to Safety
If safe browsing is important to you, then these steps are a great start to protecting yourself. Still, when it comes down to it, there are always going to advance in hacker technology.
One of the most effective ways to keep yourself safe online is to use common sense. If a site, ad, or video looks sketchy, don’t click on it. For more interesting articles about online usage, browse our GS Exclusives, and happy surfing!