Did you know that your web browser – the very tool that you use to browse the Internet – is a major target for malicious attacks? Hackers rely on malicious content becoming rendered by your web browser or by vulnerable browser plugins, which are then exploited through techniques or code developed by the hackers. Surfing the Internet safely starts with the tool you use to do so. Let’s look at some tips to keep your online experience safer.
Make sure you have the latest version of your web browser. Keep your browser updated every time there is a new version out or as soon as there are any improvements or updates, as these will enhance your browser security. Known security vulnerabilities are usually fixed or modified, which means that hackers will be unable to use these vulnerabilities to gain access to your computer and information.
Make sure your browser plugins are also up-to-date. Hackers take advantage of known security holes in plugins that include Flash, Java, Quicktime, etc., and they may exploit these through devious means such as banner ads on websites. These ads are programmed to use the plugin’s vulnerabilities against you, allowing the hacker to secretly install a Trojan or keylogger onto your computer. This is why it’s very important to always keep your plugins updated, as each update will patch any known exploits and make it less likely that your browser will become victim to these attacks.
Never allow your web browser to remember passwords for you. Yes, it may be convenient that you don’t have to type in your username and password each time you want to login to your email account, but allowing your passwords to be remembered by your browser is just as bad as writing your password on a post-it note and sticking it to your monitor: unsafe, and people will always be able to get at your passwords just by some surreptitious digging.
Never login to your private and/or confidential sites at Internet cafés or when using unsecured WiFi connections. This includes your email, bank account, Virtual Office, and Quest Account. You don’t know how exactly what’s been installed on the computer (perhaps it contains a Trojan virus or keylogger), or whether the people who used the computer before you were doing so safely. They may have inadvertently infected the computer, or even installed a keylogger themselves. There are too many security risks, so it’s always better to never login to anything important or private when using an Internet café. This also holds true for unsecured WiFi connections, as you never know who may be monitoring the line and any information you send is usually not encrypted or safe.
Your online safety is only as good as the tool you use to access the Internet. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry – preventing your information from falling into the hands of malicious people is worth never experiencing the stress of realising you’ve been a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud!