Secure the Browser

Alisha Shinde
Monday, 12 August 2019

Keep hackers away by following safe browsing practices

Whether it is banking, ticket reservation, food ordering or even education, everything has gone digital today. But the risk of browsing too has increased, as hackers are luring users to share their personal data and using it to their own advantage. Though securing internet does sound a bit intimidating, that does not mean one cannot do it. Satyan Jham, founder and CEO, Virus Rescuers, a company that provides a comprehensive suite of security services to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to data and network security effectively, tells us the importance of browser security. 

Jham explains that browser security is making sure that there is no compromising of data using a browser, which is the most common way of accessing internet today. Securing browser is important and so is updating it. “Browser security ranges from taking precaution of unauthorised plug-ins, programmes which can read browser history or access cookies, visiting secured sites with illegitimate signatures, blocking pop-ups, using saved information of cached credentials or credit card information,” he says. 

Many believe that browser privacy is the same as browser security but Jham points out that it is not; the two are inter-related though. “If browser security is compromised, data which is supposed to be kept private, could be compromised,” says Jham. For example, website history, location tracking, saved credit card information, activation of mic or camera through an unauthorised plugin, a programme installed from a deceiving pop-up etc, invalid DNS settings, visiting invalid SSL websites etc can breach the security. “Many browsers now have a Private/Incognito mode which does not track or store anything. It is always advisable to use a browser in such mode while using public hotspots, cybercafes and open networks,” adds Jham.

He suggests auto update by checking browser settings. “Go to the extension or plug-ins and review which plug-ins have got access and which ones are really in use, make sure to disable or uninstall non-essential and have them re-installed only when required,” says Jham. 

He adds that one can set built-in settings of browsers to ‘high as possible’ which blocks fake or attack-based websites, cookies, pop-up windows, javascript execution, camera or mic usage permissions, plug-ins installation. “One can also install plug-ins which block scripts and exclusively allow scripts on user permission only, block or allow Flash exclusively, force visiting valid secure https only websites,” adds Jham. 

Users can sign up for alerts which send notifications about browser vulnerabilities, but steps should be taken to secure or harden computer through malware detection which monitor the temporary internet files for malicious scripts, virus and 0-day executables, block internet pop-ups. It is important to secure the web browser because different browsers and different versions lead to vulnerabilities which attackers use to exploit or inject code. “All users are not the same, they may interpret illegitimate attempts to gather information on websites as legitimate and fall into trap of credential phishing, financial fraud, private and other information leakage. So securing it has become extremely important,” says Jham. 

The threat can travel from user to user and if correct policies and systems are not in place, it could spread across the entire network, he warns.

Jham lists down the common browser security threats that users are likely to face
- Visiting phishing websites which look 100 per cent similar to original asking to reset password or credit card information
- Asking user to download a plug-in by pointing arrows to guide them making it more genuine from a user perspective
- Downloading executable which are advertisement or pay-ware programs telling user to buy them for improving performance of system
- Fake “Download” buttons which take you to a secondary website asking you to download a tool

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