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Secure your browser

Updated on July 13, 2016

One of the things that people normally give very little thought to is what browsers they use to surf the internet. Personally the two browsers that I use with the most frequency are: -Chrome and Firefox And the search engine that most people use on both of these browsers would be google. By using these popular services however you may also be giving up more personal information than you might be comfortable with. It is a known fact that Google has been tracking your web activity and this explains a lot of the target based ads that tend to appear on websites that you may visit. If you like to get a breakdown of exactly how this can impact you I suggest you take a look at Don't Track Us. To defend against this change the search engine you use to DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo does not collect or share any of your personal information. There's no search history, profile or anything else stored, sold, or given to third parties. This means that I can now browse the web without been targeted by ad campaigns temping you to buy the latest new gadgets that you can’t afford. In addition to this if you would like even more web anonymity download and installed the onion browser from Tor. As stated on the Tor website “Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.” Tor is also very easy to install and can be downloaded from the Tor Project. Once you have the above done there are additional steps that you can take to secure things even more.

Configure your browser’s security and privacy settings


Review your browser’s privacy and security settings to make sure you’re comfortable with what’s checked or unchecked. Frequently, browser updates are released to plug recently discovered security holes. So it’s important to always keep any browsers you use updated. I spoke about the importance of patching your applications in an earlier post and this is no different.
Set up Google alerts for your browser to stay current on any emerging security issues.
Plug-ins and extensions are also an area you need to be really wary of make sure you know what the purpose of the plug-in or extension is and what permissions you are giving it.
The majority of plug-ins and extensions are safe, however, and some can help increase your browser’s security. Below are 3 free browser extensions for added security that you can install.

HTTPS Everywhere. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Tor Project jointly developed this Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension. HTTPS is a communications protocol for securing communications over a computer network, vs. the standard HTTP protocol, which is more widely used but less secure. HTTPS Everywhere encrypts communication with many major websites to help secure your browsing experience.

Web of Trust (also known as WOT). This extension for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera helps you determine if a website is safe to surf. The extension displays traffic signal icons next to URLs and links. Green means the site is reliable; yellow indicates you should proceed with caution; red translates to “steer clear.” .

LongURL.org. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook etc and you see a shortened link embedded in an interesting post, you might click it. Shortened links have been known to mask malicious links. If you’re unsure of a shortened link, copy and paste it into the search box at LongURL.org. You’ll see where the link would take you, without having to actually click through to the site.

Online Accounts:

I believe that this is an area of exposure that you actually have the least control over as you are trusting a third party with my login credentials and personal information. With this trust you can only hope that they are properly securing your data. One area you do have control over however is how secure you make your login to these sites. In the past few years the main social media, email and service providers have offered two phase authentication or two step verification to help users protect their login details. I have covered how to set this up on the following accounts.
-Twitter -Gmail -iTunes
It is straight forward to do this and I will start with Twitter. Once you log into your twitter account navigate to your profile picture at the top right of the page and click here. Now select settings once in the settings menu select security and privacy in here you can turn on log on verification. Once this is turned on you need to select a trusted device and every time you log onto twitter from now on you will need both your password and a unique code that will be sent to your chosen device.
To set this up on your gmail account which will secure all of your gmail accounts using this login i.e google drive, google plus etc. You need to log in and click the little nut type figure at the top right of your screen from the drop down menu select settings. From here select accounts and import and then select other google account settings. From here click on sign-in and security and follow the steps. At the end of the process google will show you a screen ticking off all of the area that are now protected.

To set up your iTunes account you need to go to https://appleid.apple.com and log in. Once logged in navigate to password and security in here you can set up two step verification. iTunes makes you wait three days after requesting to set this up just in case you are not who you say you are. I actually think that the three day waiting period is a good idea as you will get an email to say that two step verification was requested and this will give anyone who didn’t try and set this up time to protect themselves. Facebook also has this feature and I would recommend setting it up if you have a facebook account.


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