Browsers Security

Make Your Browsing Safer with These 7 Simple Tips

Akshata Shanbhag 27-07-2016

Safe browsing is more of an ongoing task than a set-it-and-forget-it affair.


You have to generate strong passwords and manage them, sidestep malicious pranks Don't Tap That Link! This Website Will Crash Your Phone Visiting this website on a smartphone could cause a crash, and people are sending it around as a prank. Read More and scripts, protect your web activity from trackers, dodge email spam, keep your files and personal info safe, and so on — there’s just so much to do and it can be daunting. That’s why we have come up with seven essential starter tips to help you browse more safely.

Keep Your Browser Up-To-Date

When you update your browser, you’re not just getting access to new features and bug fixes. You’re also getting better protection from security flaws Update Firefox Now! Or a Security Flaw Can Steal Your Local Files You need to fire up Firefox and download the latest version right now. Mozilla has issued a critical update that fixes a major security flaw, which could let hackers steal files from your hard drive. Read More and malware, thanks to the security fixes that come bundled with every new release. Don’t miss out on this up-to-date protection and put your data at risk. Update your browser to its latest version now.


Your browser might be set to automatically download and install updates by default. If you have turned off automatic updates, update your browser manually. You’ll find the option to do that in your browser’s About section (on most mainstream browsers anyway).

On Windows PCs, you’ll find a link to the About section hidden within the Help menu of your browser. On MacBooks, you can access the About section via the menu next to the Apple icon at the top left when your browser is active. Check your browser’s documentation for further information on keeping your browser in top shape.



Using an up-to-date browser on an unsupported version of an operating system (OS) can also be a security risk. Upgrade your OS, or at least find a safer browser Which Browser Is Most Secure on Your Old Windows XP System? What is the most secure browser for Windows XP? We look at Firefox, Chrome, Opera and more to see if they are the best browsr for Windows XP. Read More for it.

Get HTTPS:// Everywhere

Many websites offer an HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) connection, which is a more secure way to browse when compared with the default HTTP connection.

HTTPS encrypts your interaction with the browser; here’s everything you need to know about HTTPS What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default Security concerns are spreading far and wide and have reached the forefront of most everybody's mind. Terms like antivirus or firewall are no longer strange vocabulary and are not only understood, but also used by... Read More . The catch is that this form of communication is not enabled by default and you might not feel inclined to enable it manually every time. That’s why you need a browser add-on like HTTPS:// Everywhere, which adds an automatic layer of security by enforcing an HTTPS connection.



Expand Shortened URLs

You need to be careful while clicking on short URLs, because they may not always be on the up and up. A short URL could be hiding a deceptive link that downloads malware to your computer or redirects you to unexpected and/or inappropriate web content.

A web app like CheckShortURL is all you need to escape this minefield. For any short URL that you copy-paste into the app, it displays the corresponding long URL. If the expanded URL doesn’t match up with the site and the content that you’re expecting, leave the short URL alone.



DuckDuckGo users could previously expand URLs with the syntax expand short_URL before, but that no longer seems to work. Give it a shot anyway if you use DuckDuckGo.

Browse Incognito on Borrowed Computers

Whether you’re looking up information on a computer at the library or checking your email from a friend’s computer, it’s best to do so using the browser’s private mode or incognito mode. When you surf in the private mode, none of your browsing history gets saved to that computer (but downloads do).

Keep in mind that private browsing doesn’t make you anonymous online and you can still get tracked 6 Ways You Can Be Tracked in Incognito or Private Browsing Mode Private browsing is private in 99% of cases, but can private browsing be hacked? Can you tell what someone has viewed incognito? Read More .



Private browsing comes in handy Not Just for Porn: Other Uses For Private Browsing Private-browsing mode has many other names, including "incognito mode" in Chrome and "InPrivate Browsing" in Internet Explorer. Some people refer to private-browsing mode as "porn mode", but it isn't just for porn addicts. It can... Read More even on your computer — you can go incognito to check for price discrimination, log into a second account on a website, shop for surprise gifts, and so on.

If you’re away from your computer often and end up browsing on shared machines, consider carrying a portable version of your browser on a USB stick. Your browsing data gets backed up to the USB and no trace of it gets left behind on the shared computer.


You’ll also want to create a guest profile in your browser if you’re letting someone browse from your computer. Setting up a guest user account with limited permissions would be even better.

Activate In-App Security and Privacy Features

Most services, apps, and devices come with at least a few basic settings designed to protect your online activity. Make use of them. For starters, change these Skype privacy settings Use These Skype Privacy Settings to Secure Your Account Is your Skype account secure? Do you have the best privacy settings configured on your desktop or mobile Skype app? We look at how to secure your account when using the popular VOIP service. Read More , improve your Gmail security in five minutes 5 Ways to Improve Your Gmail Security in Under 5 Minutes Email security is always important, but using Gmail can lead us into a false sense of security. If you use Gmail, these vital tips will save you from the inevitable headaches and grief later. Read More , and activate these smartphone privacy settings Smartphone Privacy Settings You Need To Activate Today Smartphones ship with plenty of default settings that could be leaking your info. Let's dive in and tweak them. Read More .

Also, activate two-factor authentication (2FA What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security method that requires two different ways of proving your identity. It is commonly used in everyday life. For example paying with a credit card not only requires the card,... Read More ) and add pass codes to apps that contain sensitive information. Don’t forget to secure the browser in your smartphone — it’s just as vulnerable as the one on your desktop.


Every month or so, check your Google, Facebook, and Dropbox accounts (plus any others) and go through the list of third-party apps that can access these accounts. If you find any apps that you haven’t used in a while or that show suspicious activity, revoke their permissions.


Look Before You Click

What happens when you surf the web? Your eyes get bombarded with interesting links. You see them, you click them. That’s just the kind of impulsive behavior that can get you into trouble online, because you might be clicking on a virus-laden download, a fake website, or a well-disguised phishing scam.

Pay attention to the links that you’re clicking on. Take a quick look at your browser’s status bar to view the URL hidden behind the link and know what exactly you’re clicking on. If it’s a shortened URL, expand it as we discussed above.


To protect yourself from unsafe areas on the web, we recommend installing Web of Trust (WOT). It’s a browser extension that scores websites on their trustworthiness, making it easier for you to decide whether it’s safe for you to visit them. WOT ratings are generated by users like us and not security experts, so it’s worth keeping in mind that there are certain occasions when you shouldn’t trust WOT Web Of Discretion: When Not To Trust Web Of Trust Web of Trust scores a website based on criteria like trustworthiness, reliability, privacy, and safety. These scores aren't determined by Internet security experts. They're generated by normal people like you and I. Sounds like it... Read More .


Stay away from alarmist banners proclaiming that your computer is at risk or that it’s filled with viruses and you need to download this cleaner or that to fix everything. Also, learn which security symbols to watch out for and how to deal with security certificate errors What Is a Website Security Certificate? What You Need to Know Website security certificates help make the web more secure and safer for online transactions. Here's how security certificates work. Read More .


All your efforts to protect your privacy will get ruined if you aren’t careful about what you post on social networks and other websites. Beware of letting slip important information 10 Things You Should Never Share on Social Media Be careful what you share on social media because you never know when something could come back and ruin your life. Read More like your home location, travel destination, or credit card number on a public platform.

Install the Right Extensions

Feel free to delegate some of your browser-securing duties to extensions. These extensions to block tracking and scripts Control Your Web Content: Essential Extensions to Block Tracking and Scripts The truth is, there is always someone or something monitoring your Internet activity and content. Ultimately, the less information we let these groups have the safer we'll be. Read More are a good place to start.

A word of warning here: even extensions can go rogue. Make an effort to stay informed about the latest security and privacy threats going around, so that you can avoid them in time.

Browser Safety First

Safe browsing becomes easier once you have gone through the basics of patching up your browser and learned a few good browsing habits. Soon you’ll feel ready to tackle our guide to online privacy and security The Paranoid Conspiracy-Theorist's Guide To Online Privacy & Security Can you stay anonymous online? With not too much and the use of easy to use web-based encryption, security and privacy tools, we believe you can. Let us show you how. Read More and these books about cyber security 6 Books About Online Privacy & Security You Need to Read As online privacy and security continue to be spicy hot topics, a whole range of high quality books are being written on the subject. Here are just six we recommend you read. Read More .

Has your online safety ever been compromised? Which tips and tools would you recommend for staying safe on the web?

Related topics: Browser Extensions, Online Privacy, Online Security.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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