These days, most of us spend an incredible amount of time online using a Web browser. The Web browser, and the activities performed using them, is a favorite attack vector for cybercriminals. Here are some tips on how to browse securely and keep the bad guys away.
Recent version of browser
Although most popular Web browsers today have proven to be fairly secure, bear in mind that you should always use the latest version of the browser and make sure that it’s up-to-date and patched. Those security patches are there for a
reason, and older versions of browsers are far more vulnerable to attacks than updated ones.
We use a lot of Web sites and services these days. Because keeping track of potentially dozens of passwords is a difficult task, many people use the same password (or some slight variant of the same password) for everything, which is a terrible
idea. Not every site is created equal in terms of security. For example, the authentication and encryption on your bank’s Web site may be stellar, but that forum for moped riders that you joined may not be.
If someone found or figured out your password on the moped forum and you used it for your other accounts, a hacker can figure out how to access your financial and personal data, not to mention your various email and social networking accounts, pretty quickly.
Further, make sure any and all passwords you use are strong—that is, make sure they’re hard for someone else to guess. A strong password will contain a mix of upper- and lower-case letters as well as numbers. Don’t use familiar names or the birthdays of family members, or anything that someone could easily find out about you.
You should have a different password for every account you have. Because it’s so tough to remember all those passwords, you should develop a code, such as including the first letter of the service somewhere in the password or something equally random that you can still remember, or use password management software.
Web site encryption
One letter can make a world of difference. You’ve no doubt noticed the “HTTP” before Web addresses, but a site with “HTTPS” before the address is one that employs some kind of encryption, such as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). You’ll frequently see HTTPS on financial sites or online payment portals, for example. This prevents others from “eavesdropping” on your browsing and helps keep your sensitive information shrouded from online view.
It’s important to remember where you’re accessing the Internet from. For example, if you’re browsing from your company’s network, chances are that the IT department has business-level encryption, malware detection, and firewalls in place to keep your communications secure and to keep the bad stuff out.
However, if you’re accessing the Internet on an unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspot, assume that anyone who’s interested can see what you’re doing on the network. Never, ever, conduct sensitive business over an unsecured network.