Important Settings to Secure Your Web Browser – Part One

browser security, securing your internet

Your web browser is your gateway to the internet. On almost all computers, a web browser, such as Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, or Google Chrome, is present, and they are used very frequently. Since they open the door to the internet filled with such threats as hackers and viruses, it is essential that you set up your browsers with emphasis to security. Often, the web browser is installed with the default settings, which do not ensure maximum security. In this article, you will find necessary information to secure all of the major browsers out there.

Browser Threat Routes

There are a lot of new technologies supported in web browsers. Some of them can open doors to threats. Such weaknesses (bugs) in software programs are known as vulnerabilities. Some of the technologies in browsers include ActiveX, Add-ons, Cookies, Java, etc.

ActiveX: This is a technology primarily used by Internet Explorer. This helps the web browser use an external piece of software. Some websites that support ActiveX technology supply a downloadable software object that contains special functionality required by the website. However, this technology is riddled with vulnerabilities that help hackers attack a host computer.

Java: Java technology is similar to ActiveX. The main difference is that Java is an open standard. A Java platform called the Virtual Machine has to be installed in the host computer to run the Java applications downloadable from websites; these applications are known as applets. Just as any executable code, a Java applet can be used to take advantage of the vulnerabilities of any computer.

Add-ons: These applications are extensions to existing browser functionality. For instance, in order to play YouTube videos you need Flash add-on. However, these applications, along with enhancing browser functionality, cause vulnerabilities. Browser creators often publish software patches to fix these vulnerabilities. It is imperative that you regularly update your browser add-ons while installing new versions of your browser.

Cookies: These are files created by a website within a client computer to store specific information, such as the user name and password. A cookie file is a small text file that may contain important information used to identify a user visiting a website. This information may be used to deliver targeted advertisements. Some people may consider this as an encroachment to privacy. It is important that you clear cookies and cache stored by your browser once in a while.

Scripts: Websites may use scripting languages like JavaScript or VB Script to create interactive elements. JavaScript is compatible with all web browsers, but VBScript is supported only in Internet Explorer. The scripting languages add several new resources in a website; however, a hacker can abuse them to implement malicious code.

In Part Two we will cover settings in your browser you should know about.

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