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How to make your web browser as secure as possible

A picture of a laptop

Your web browser is your window to the outside world, but it works in two ways: it’s also the window through which viruses, malware, and other malicious elements can gain access to your computer. With that in mind, it’s essential that you take the time to lock down your browser of choice as much as possible from a security perspective, and we’ll show you how to do it.

The good news is that modern web browsers are designed with security in mind, and you’re automatically protected against a host of issues as long as your browser is up to date: Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple, and other browser developers . It can usually be counted on to deploy patches as soon as new security vulnerabilities are discovered, so browser updates aren’t something to be overlooked.

On Chrome, you can check if you are using the latest version by clicking on the three dots (top right), then To help and About Google Chrome. On Edge, click on the three dots (top right), then Help and feedback and About Microsoft Edge. On Firefox, click on the three lines (top right), then To help and About Firefox in Windows, or open the firefox menu and choose About Firefox on a Mac. As for Safari, the browser is of course updated alongside macOS, since the Apple menus, choose About This Mac and Software update.

Security on Google Chrome

Chrome comes with a few features that will check your browser’s privacy and security settings: you’ll see them if you click on the three dots (top right), then Settings and Privacy and Security. The first is the Privacy Guide, which you can run by clicking Begin (Where Privacy Guide below), and there’s also the security check, which you can run from the top of the list.

The privacy guide and security control walk you through Chrome’s most important security settings, but you can also access them separately. From Privacy and Security Chrome settings page, choose Security so what Reinforced protection for the most comprehensive and proactive security settings: detecting threats in advance is better than standard protection, although this means you share more data with Google in terms of URLs and snippets of page content so that they can be analyzed.

A screenshot of the Google Chrome security page

Screenshot: Google Chrome

Lower the Security the screen, make sure that Always use secure connections and Use secure DNS both options are enabled, which will deploy the strictest and most secure web connection protocols wherever available. If you think you are particularly vulnerable to targeted attacks, you can register for the Google Advanced Protection Program from the same screen, this adds several additional layers of security to the Google Chrome browser and your Google Account.

There are a few other settings that we advise you to change as well, through Chrome settings. Take Privacy and Security then Cookies and other site data, and you can Block third-party cookies, the type that might track you across multiple sites as you browse the web. Also worth checking out Privacy and Security so what Site settings: You can see on this page which websites are currently authorized to access key data (such as your location) and key computing components (such as your webcam).

Security on Microsoft Edge

You can access key security settings in Microsoft Edge by clicking the three dots (top right), then choosing Settings and Privacy, Research and Services. At the very top of the next screen, you can choose how aggressively Edge crushes cookies and trackers. You can choose from Basic, Balance Where strictand the differences between them are explained on screen for you.

Below Clear browsing data, you can not only erase all the data Edge has on you, but you can also make sure that data is erased every time you close the browser, making it much harder for anyone to see what you’ve been up to . at. Further down the screen, we recommend enabling Microsoft Defender Smart Display and Block potentially unwanted applications features, so the software takes a proactive stance when it comes to blocking anything suspicious.

A screenshot of the Microsoft Edge security page

Screenshot: Microsoft Edge

Enable the switch next to Improve your web security, and Edge will take even more steps to protect you in terms of disabling site activity, as it may interrupt the functionality of some of the pages you visit. You have the choice between two levels, Balance and strictand if you are having serious functionality issues with particular websites, you can exclude them from these additional security measures by clicking Exceptions.

A few other options on the Edge Settings page to be aware of: Under Cookies and site permissions you can choose to Block third-party cookies, which stops the most egregious site trackers. Lower the Cookies and site permissions page, there’s a list of all the permissions that individual sites have — camera, location, microphone, JavaScript, and more — so you can check which permissions shouldn’t have been granted and revoke them if necessary.

Security on Mozilla Firefox

The main Firefox settings screen can be accessed by clicking on the three lines (top right), then Settings. The page we are particularly interested in here is Privacy and Security, and as soon as you open it, you will notice that there are protection options against invasive trackers at the very top. The strict is the most secure, but you may break some functionality on some sites.

Further down the page, you’ll notice a long list of permissions that may have been granted to certain sites (access to your computer’s webcam, for example). Click on Settings next to one of these permissions to ensure that only sites you know and trust have access to the required privileges. It’s also a good idea to have the Block pop-up windows and Warn you when websites attempt to install add-ons boxes checked.

A screenshot of the Mozilla Firefox security page

Screenshot: MozillaFirefox

Scroll to Securityand we recommend that you enable all features here, so that Firefox takes the most proactive approach to security possible: select Block dangerous and misleading content (which includes phishing sites and sites hosting malware), as well as Block dangerous downloads and Warn you about unwanted and uncommon software. It should then be very difficult for any dangerous code to slip through the defenses that Firefox has in place.

For even more protection, select Enable HTTPS-only mode in all windows to use the most secure connection available when connecting to a site, and (further up the screen) select Delete cookies and site data when Firefox is closed, it means you don’t have to remember to regularly clear cookies and other cached data that sites want to store, because your browser will do it for you.

Security on Apple Safari

Apple prides itself on its strong position on privacy and security, and you’ll find plenty of related features in Safari. To see the measures taken by the browser to ensure the security and privacy of your web browsing, open the Safari menu and choice Privacy report– you will get a detailed readout of the trackers that have been blocked and the sites that have hosted them.

Open the Safari menu and choose Preferences to add even more security and privacy protection. There are only two parameters under the Security title: you can have Safari warn you when you’re on a potentially fraudulent website (we recommend enabling it), and you can enable or disable JavaScript, which can be used to mount attacks on your computer, but it is also used by many sites so that they can function properly.

A screenshot of the Apple Safari security page

Screenshot: Apple Safari

Below Privacy, you have more settings to play with. For maximum protection, you should activate Prevent cross-site tracking (third-party cookies) and Hide trackers IP address. If you choose Manage website datayou can control the cookies that are stored on a site-by-site basis. It takes longer to manage cookies this way, but it gives you more flexibility.

Open the Websites from the dialog box, and you can quickly check which websites have access to your camera, microphone, current location, etc. Delete any websites that you don’t recognize or that seem suspicious. You can also set the default behavior when sites request these permissions, but you should never allow these permissions to be set without your explicit approval.