Your Web Browser Is The Biggest Security Risk?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Browsers are the key to our travels around the Internet. They take us to all of the interesting destinations online, and help us to find information that is useful to us. Unfortunately, as we browse around the Internet we are not always as protected as we'd like to be.

You have many options when it comes to protecting yourself online. Some of these options include choosing the right browser and allowing or disallowing the proper functions inside the browser itself.

While Internet Explorer still dominates the browser market, its popularity is beginning to wane. That's because users are discovering that browsers like Firefox are just basically better, offer better security, and are sometimes easier to use.

Even when other browsers are not better than Microsoft Explorer, they are less of a target for the unwelcome visitors you might pick up as you travel around the Internet. Until Internet security improves, it is sometimes a good choice to simply choose the browser that is less of a target. This might mean you choose Google’s Chrome or Firefox or some other browser other than Internet Explorer (also called IE).

Internet Explorer and other browsers offer you a variety of options for improving your security while you're online. Most of us don't know that we have as much control as we do, that we can set things up a particular way to allow or disallow functions that could be harmful to our online browsing fun.

One of the most important settings to understand is the ‘ActiveX controls’ setting. You have to decide if you want to allow the running of ‘ActiveX controls’ and plug-ins or if you should set your browser to prompt you to either allow or disallow these functions at any particular site that might use them. Most computer experts will tell you it's better to set up your browser to have it prompt you to allow or disallow pop-ups or ‘ActiveX controls’. This is because if you allow the pop-ups and ‘ActiveX controls’ to run continuously, you open yourself up to infection if those pop-ups are malicious in any way.

But some of us don't want to have to respond to every prompt, and are willing to take the risk that comes with allowing the pop-ups and ‘ActiveX controls’ to run continuously. Only you know your tolerance for dealing with the pop-ups, and the prompts, and only you know your willingness to become infected or to deal with virus or spyware infections should they happen.

Another important component of browsing safely is to understand how to be a safe browser. That is, don't always say ‘yes’ when you are asked if you trust the site you're visiting. Especially if you've never been to the site before, how can you know that you trust it for sure?

Because you're visible to others when you're online, this invites unwelcome visitors. So when you access a particular site it means that, in effect, you are accessible too. Certainly that means that cookies can be added to your system, but it also means that executable files that can be dangerous or that can infect your system can also be added to your system.

In order to keep yourself safe while browsing online there are couple of things you can do. First, do some research and learn how to keep your browser safe. Learn how to set the safety settings in your browser (as in ‘ActiveX controls’, for example).

Learn how to limit administrator-level access, which will make it harder for a hacker or other unwanted visitor to gain access to your system. All of these things can take some time and patience to learn, but if you protect your system well and learn that you had been able to effectively fight off invaders, then you will know that the time was well spent.

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