Welcome to the third and final edition of Safe Web Browsing Tips. This part will focus on how best to approach safe web browsing when using the Chrome and Firefox web browsers. For general tips on safe web browsing have a look at part one, and for how to secure Internet Explorer have a look at part two.
We are going to be using add-ons available for each of the browsers which is a slightly different approach than we took with Internet Explorer and configuring two zones.
Chrome is the browser brought to us by Google. Google have included some handy features in with the browser such as Google Safe Browsing Blacklist (which blacklists known dangerous websites), it also supports sandboxed browsing whereby the webpages you are browsing are prevented from making changes to your computer as they are segregated from the rest of Windows (as in IE’s protected mode). The one and only setting we are going to change will be as follows. Click on the settings button (top right hand corner next to the address bar), and then settings from the drop down menu. From there click show advanced settings and then put a check in “Check for serve certificate revocation”. This will ensure that Chrome will check to see if the security certificate for the website has not had the security certificate revoked and thus should be safe to exchange information (e.g. login details).
Firefox is brought to us by Mozilla and has been around for donkey’s years (well since 2002, but that is pretty old in computing circles). As with Chrome Firefox also uses the Google Safe Browsing Blacklist, and also implements browser sandboxing. The only setting we are going to change in Firefox is setting a master password. Click the Firefox button (should be top left, if not update to the latest version!) then click options from the drop down menu. Next select the security tab, click on the saved passwords button, this should bring you up a list of websites and the user names for those websites. Click show passwords, then click yes, now you should be able to see all of your passwords… scary hey? We need to prevent this from happening. Click close, and then put a check in the item that says “Use a maser password” this will then prompt you for a password. Click ok and you are done. Next to the add-ons.
Chrome & Firefox Add-ons
All of the add-ons I will mention next are relevant to both Chrome and Firefox, and all will allow you to secure either browser for a safe web browsing experience.
This add-on will help by preventing known bad pages from loading. The job it does is very similar to the Google Safe Browsing feature (as mentioned above). Bit Defender Traffic Light also scans websites in real time (i.e. when you access a site) to ensure that the website is not the victim of a false report (e.g. it is safe but flagged as dangerous) or that a record has not been updated (e.g. the website is dangerous but flagged as safe).
This software again functions to block known malicious websites via a blacklist type approach (as with Google Safe Browsing and Bit Defender Traffic Light) in conjunction with this it also has a handy advert blocking feature so is well worth the download. Once you have installed this visit their subscriptions page and select Easy List and Malware Domains.
That concludes the add-ons that work with both browsers.
Chrome Specific Add-ons
This add-on is designed around preventing scripts running automatically in the browser when you visit a web page. Most of this behaviour is harmless, and most of it is actually useful and delivers content from the website to your computer, though scripts can and are used to attack your computer. After you have installed this add-on you will have a small square with a no entry sign to the right hand side of the address bar. When you visit a web page it will inform you of the number of scripting requests made, when you click on this icon it will then inform you as to where they originated from and it will then enable you to allow or block said scripts for future use.
Firefox Specific Add-ons
Much the same as ScriptSafe for Chrome this is a script blocking programme. It functions in much the same way as ScriptSafe; however with NoScript you will get a popup down the bottom of the browser window with the number of scripts that have been blocked and by clicking on the options button you’ll be able to allow or deny these scripts from running now and in the future.
That concludes our series on safe web browsing. There has been a fair amount of information to take in, and there has been a fair amount of information to put out!
These steps are becoming ever more important to ensure a safe web browsing experience, and to secure your computer. Long gone are the days where the main perpetrators of hacking attacks were bored with nothing better to do than cause some digital vandalism, or gain some virtual kudos. Now these attacks are carried out by criminal gangs for financial gains. Whether that be by gaining access to bank accounts, or credit/debit card information, getting paid by victims for providing fraudulent services, or even by holding computers to ransom.