What Makes a Web Browser Secure? Look for These Features

What Makes a Web Browser Secure? Look for These Features

Web browsers are our window to the World Wide Web, but much like every window, a browser is a two-way street. Hence, not only does a web browser enable us to access the internet, but it also allows malicious entities to peek into our systems.

Therefore, you want a secure web browser, one that protects you from all the malicious entities lurking on the internet but how do you find the perfect browser, and which one do you choose?

Why Do You Need a Secure Browser?

We know that browsers help us connect to the internet, but browsers have advanced over the years. Now they try to make our lives easier by storing passwords, credit card information, and addresses so that we don’t have to remember them. But malicious entities can get their hands on this information if the browser we use is not secure enough.

Image of Thumb Impression on Black Background Having Binary Code

In addition, we search for many confidential things on the internet, and if the browser we use is not secure, it can leak our personal information. Using this information, advertisement companies can create individual profiles, which can be used to track us on the internet and influence our decisions. Also, with the rise in crypto mining, hackers have started deploying malicious scripts to mine cryptocurrencies by high-jacking browsers to perform crypto mining operations in compromised browsers.

So not having a secure browser can put your browsing habits, credit card information, passwords, and CPU computation power at risk. This information can then be used to perform crypto mining, botnet attacks, financial damage, identity theft, and social media attacks.

This clearly shows that having a secure browser is the need of the hour, but what makes a browser secure? Well, let’s find out.

What Makes a Browser Secure?

Now that you know about the problems that come with an unsecured browser, here are some browser features that can make them more secure. Look for these to help determine if a web browser can help protect you on the internet.

  • Sandboxing: Just like a child’s sandbox prevents sand from spilling, a browser sandbox prevents malicious code running in the browser from affecting your system.
  • Pop-up blocking: If you are on a secure website and a pop-up shows on the screen, you might assume the pop-up is also secure. This is far from the truth, as clicking on pop-ups can redirect users to malicious sites that can harm your system. Therefore, it’s important to have a browser that disables pop-ups and prevents your system from getting infected.
    Pop up on a browser
  • Crypto miner blocking: Mining cryptocurrencies takes up a lot of computational power and energy. Therefore, malicious actors create scripts to use someone else’s computer to mine crypto — using up their system’s resources. You want a browser that prevents malicious crypto-mining code from running on your system.
  • Blocking tracking cookies/scripts: Many websites you visit on the internet make revenue by showing advertisements. To make these advertisements more enticing, big advertisement companies track you on the internet using tracking scripts, cookies, and browser fingerprinting. This tracking enables ad tech companies to send targeted advertisements your way. So, if you look at it, big tech companies are following you when you browse the internet and look at everything you do on the internet. Tracking protection can limit their ability to do so.
    People being tracked using several cameras
  • Secure plugins: No longer is the functionality of a browser constrained by the functions it comes with. Thanks to plugins, the functionality of a browser can be enhanced. That said, not every plugin made for a browser is safe. Choose a browser that has vetted plugins so that you know which ones to trust.
  • Enabling HTTPS everywhere: browsers use the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) to connect to a website. When released, this protocol did not have any encryption—enabling malicious entities to look at the data between a client and a website. HTTPS changed everything by adding a layer of encryption to the protocol, but not every website on the internet supports HTTPS and use older protocols. Some browsers can warn you when you’re about to access a site using HTTP or prevent you from doing so.
    Facebook opened using an HTTPS connection
  • Blocking JavaScript: We no longer live in a world where the internet is static. Many websites we visit have videos running, pop up ads, or other interactive elements. To enable this, web browsers run code in the background using JavaScript. Although this makes the web interactive, it also allows hackers to run malicious code on your browser while you visit a website. Having a browser that does not allow JavaScript to run by default prevents malicious entities from running code in the browser that can access your personal information or system resources.
  • DNS over HTTPS: The Domain Name System (DNS) that translates the URL you type into an actual website, by default, uses plain text. Due to this, an attacker or your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can look at all the websites you visit using the DNS traffic. To solve this problem, you need a browser that uses HTTPS for performing DNS resolution and protects your identity on the internet.

Is Your Browser Secure Enough?

Be it Safari, Google Chrome, Opera, Edge, or Firefox, no browser is inherently secure. Security has as much to do with the person using the browser as it does with the browser itself. Plus, any browser in its default settings is not secure, as it is designed to offer a good user experience.

Due to this reason, browsers allow websites to set third-party cookies or run JavaScript by default. To make a browser secure, you need to tweak the default settings on their browsers to make it secure. Doing the same on different browsers requires tweaking different settings for your browser.

macbook pro with mac browsers open

That said, every browser you use comes with different privacy settings. Google Chrome, for one, is designed by Google, and the advertisement mogul wants to get its hands on all your data. As a result, using Chrome will always put your privacy at risk.

On the contrary, browsers like Firefox, Tor, Safari, and Brave are built with user privacy in mind, and tweaking the settings on these can make them more secure—protecting you on the internet.

Which Browser Should You Use?

When it comes to browsers, one size does not fit all. If you are part of the Apple ecosystem, then using Safari makes sense as it integrates with the ecosystem. On the other hand, if you are a Windows user, then using Edge, Firefox or Brave can be more secure when compared to Google Chrome as these browsers are not designed to collect user data but allow them to connect to the internet securely.

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