Is our data at risk when using the browser?
The truth is that yes. The security and privacy they can be compromised simply by using the browser, entering a page, opening a link, downloading a file … That is why we must take great care of this type of program and not have problems.
Let’s take as an example that we install an extension for our browser Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or whatever we use. We have installed a plugin to save tabs or to read certain documents online, for example. But that software that we have installed is actually dangerous and has been configured to steal data while browsing or even infect the computer with malware.
But privacy can also be in danger if we enter a web page or use any service such as a platform to watch series and movies in Streaming, we log in to a social network, etc. In all these cases we can be sending and receiving information, so if something goes wrong with the browser they could leak personal data.
What to do to make the browser safe
Let’s first focus on some essential tips for keep safe when using the browser. The objective is to prevent the entry of malware, that possible malicious websites can affect us and that our computer becomes infected. The entry of malware could result in search bars appearing, browsing history hijacked, or constantly appearing pop-ups and advertisements.
Always have the latest version
A very important first recommendation is to always have the updated browser. Sometimes users forget to update the programs we use in our day to day life, but it is very important to avoid security problems. So we can correct vulnerabilities. For example, sometimes there may be a bug that allows a page we visit to have a script or file capable of exploiting a vulnerability. If we have it updated, those bugs will be corrected.
We can easily check if we have the latest version installed. For example in Google Chrome we would have to go to the menu, enter Help and click on Google Chrome information. It will automatically show us what version we have and, if necessary, it will update to the most recent one.
Only install official programs
On many occasions we will have the possibility of installing applications both from official sources as well as third party programs. The latter may have certain added features and functions, but keep in mind that it could affect security.
Our advice in this case is to only install the browser from official sources and also the main application. You also have to take care when updating the version, do it directly from the program itself or, failing that, go to the official website and download it. It is precisely with fake updates that hackers can sneak in malware.
Have security extensions
The main browsers such as Chrome or Firefox have many accessories related to security that we can install. They will help us detect threats, alert us if we have entered a dangerous page, etc.
A very interesting extension is that of HTTPS Everywhere. We can find it for Chrome and also for Firefox. What it does is always show us the encrypted HTTPS version of a web page. This is important so that the information travels safely and data is not leaked.
Another example of a plugin to improve security in the browser is WOT. We can also install it in Chrome and Firefox. In this case, it will act as a traffic light, indicating whether the page that we are going to visit is reliable or not. If, for example, we enter an infected site or a website that is actually used for Phishing attacks, it would send us a warning.
Take care of installed plugins
Although extensions are very useful to use the browser and can even help security, the truth is that we must manage well which add-ons we are going to install. On the one hand it is always important download them from trusted sites, as is the official store of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. But also, we must check that they work well at all times.
What could happen? An extension that on paper is safe, changes completely and can steal data or infect the browser. We have seen that in some cases, such as the examples of the add-ons Blue messenger or Emoji Keyboard, malicious extensions that affected Google Chrome. They basically hid code and acted like spyware.
This type of browser software often changes hands. It may even happen that it has a totally different function. This forces us to be constantly alert and review the add-ons that we have installed and that have not changed.
Avoid errors when browsing
Of course we must also take into account the common sense and avoid typical errors. For example, we can have security problems in the browser if we click on a banner that is actually adware, full of malicious advertising, as well as when entering an insecure website that can steal passwords or download files.
By these means they could get to infect us just by visiting web pages. It is very important that we verify well if a page is encrypted HTTPS, if the domain really corresponds to the site we want to visit or it is another page, the links we try to enter, etc.
Tips for maintaining privacy in the browser
But not only can we have security problems with the browser, but also our personal data could be in danger. The Privacy It is another factor that we must take care of and for this the program itself has different characteristics, in addition to taking into account some more common sense tips.
The cookies They are small files that are generated when we visit web pages, when we log into a social network such as Facebook or Twitter, configuration that we do somewhere, etc. For example, it is used to remind us of the password when logging into a site where we have previously entered. It also serves to save preferences if we enter a page where we can change the location or language.
However, cookies beyond being useful for browsing, can also represent a privacy issue. Especially it is the way in which the pages can manage our personal information. In this sense, many browsers will allow you to control cookies and limit their exposure.
In Google Chrome we can manage it if we go to the menu, enter Settings, go to Privacy and security, click on Cookies and other site data and there we configure it as it suits us. For example, we can block all third-party cookies, delete them automatically when leaving the browser, etc.
The DNS they act as a kind of “translators” when visiting a web page. Each site has an associated IP address, but users do not have to remember these numbers, of course. Instead, we simply have to put the domain name. For example RedesZone would be the domain name and we would not have to type the corresponding IP address in the browser.
What the domain name system or DNS does therefore is resolve that request and, simply by putting the domain name, send us to the corresponding address. It’s like a phone book. Now, we generally use the DNS provided by the telephone operator, but we can change them.
In browsers like Chrome we can use other different DNS. We can even have higher speed in case the ones we used previously did not work well, but the important thing in our case is that they can help improve privacy. Some options such as Cloudflare better manage user data.
To change it we have to go to the menu, enter Settings, Privacy and security, access Security and there, at the bottom, we will see the section for customize DNS. We can choose any of the options or even use different ones.
Use a more private browser
We have many browsers available, beyond the main ones such as Chrome, Firefox or Edge. Some are even specifically designed for improve privacy at the time of browsing and thus avoid that the data can leak or have problems.
A clear example is Tor. It is undoubtedly the most popular among private browsers. It is gratuitous, based on Firefox, and we can also use it for both the computer and the mobile. It can bypass trackers and isolate every website we visit. This means that if, for example, we enter a page where there is a Facebook “like” button and in another tab we have logged into the social network, Facebook would not know that we have visited the other website.
Avoid making data public
A very common way to have privacy problems when browsing is to make mistakes and make personal data public. For example it can happen when we write in a public forum or in a news article where we put a commentary. It is important that we do not leave personal data, such as our mobile or email.
What we write will not only be available to those users of that forum or to the readers of a website; the truth is that it could be read by any tracker bot that collects this type of data. If, for example, they register our email address, they could include us in spam campaigns.
Opt for a VPN
There is nothing better to use the browser in complete privacy than having a VPN. What this program does is encrypt the connection. Very interesting to connect to a public Wi-Fi and keep the data always protected. Some of the most used are ExpressVPN, NordVPN or PureVPN.
We can install a VPN directly in the operating system, either on a mobile phone or on a computer, and encrypt the entire connection that comes out of that computer. But we can also install VPN extensions, as it could be ZenMate, which is one of the most popular and is available for Chrome and Firefox.
Therefore, with these tips that we have given we can protect security and privacy when using the browser. It is important that we do not make mistakes, that we keep everything up to date and that we also rely on programs that help avoid problems when browsing.