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Safety & security

10 tips to keep Google’s Chrome browser secure

Google Chrome is the world’s most popular browser, with billions of users. Even though Google is known to play fast and loose with privacy, this is true.

Google most likely knows more about you than you could imagine. It knows every website you visit, the comments you make, your online purchases, and much more. Tap or click here for eight ways Google constantly invades your privacy.

If you’re using Chrome, there are some steps you can take to protect your information and improve your overall browsing experience. Keep reading for measures to make Chrome safer to use.

First things first

The first step you’ll always hear from us is: Update your software and devices. This task is a piece of cake when it comes to Chrome:

  • Open your Chrome browser.
  • Tap the three vertical dots to the right of your profile icon.
  • From the drop-down menu, hover over Help and select About Google Chrome.

Read on for 10 other ways to make sure Chrome is safe.

1. Set up and use 2-step verification

Two-step verification, or two-factor authentication, adds an extra layer of security to your account. Once you set it up, you’ll sign into your Google account using two steps: something you know (like your password) and something you have (like your phone).

Here’s how to set it up for Google:

  • Go to myaccount.google.com.
  • Select Security from the left panel.
  • Under Signing in to Google, select 2-Step Verification, then Get started.
  • Follow the on-screen steps.

2. Be mindful of extensions

Extensions let you customize Chrome to your liking and can add powerful new features. But not all extensions are helpful, and some can even be harmful, tracking you across the internet, hogging your bandwidth or worse.

Google recently introduced web store badges to offer some guidance on extensions. The Featured badge is assigned to extensions that follow Google’s “technical best practices and meet a high standard of user experience and design.” The Established Publisher badge “showcases publishers who have verified their identity and demonstrated compliance with the developer program policies.”

Delete any suspicious badges or ones you don’t use. Look for the extension’s icon to the right of your address bar. Right-click the icon and select Remove from Chrome. If you don’t see the extension’s icon, do the following to remove it:

  • Open your Chrome browser.
  • Tap the three vertical dots to the right of your profile icon.
  • Hover over More tools and select Extensions.
  • Click Remove on the extension you want to get rid of, then click Remove again.

3. Use a VPN

A virtual private network is among your first lines of defense against cyberattacks and invasions of privacy. A VPN provides a layer of protection between your devices and the internet. It hides your IP address and location and encrypts your data after leaving your device.

Whether it’s a computer, smartphone or tablet, it connects to the internet through an internet service provider. Those servers send you information, and they pick up information about you, your IP address, location, device and more.

A VPN blocks the two-way exchange of information. The IP address and location data come from the VPN host’s server, so the servers on the other end learn nothing about you or your data. Hackers, scammers and thieves won’t be able to get you, your data, your travels or your money.

We recommend our sponsor, ExpressVPN. Get the only VPN service that Kim uses on all your digital devices today. Get three months free when you sign up for one year at ExpressVPN.com/Kim.

4. Run Chrome’s Safety Check tool

Chrome’s Safety Check automatically scans your browser for compromised passwords and available updates. It also checks that Safe Browsing, a setting that identifies unsafe websites and notifies you of potential harm, is turned on.

You can run a Safety Check at any time:

  • Open your Chrome browser.
  • Tap the three vertical dots to the right of your profile icon.
  • Select Settings.
  • Click Privacy and security from the left panel.
  • Under Safety Check, select Check now.
  • Select the item and follow the on-screen instructions if Chrome finds any issues.

5. Use enhanced protection

Chrome has two Safe Browsing settings:

  • Enhanced protection warns you about risky sites, downloads, extensions and password breaches. It also sends data relevant to security to help improve safety.
  • Standard protection warns you about risky sites, downloads, and extensions. You can choose to get warnings about password breaches. You can also choose to send additional security info to Google.

We recommend you turn on enhanced protection:

  • Open your Chrome browser.
  • Tap the three vertical dots to the right of your profile icon.
  • Select Settings.
  • Select Privacy and Security, then Security.
  • Select Enhanced Protection under Safe Browsing.

6. Enable HTTPS-First mode.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the foundation of the internet. It’s used to load pages using hypertext links. Websites that use HTTP do not protect your privacy and are not secure. For that, you need HTTPS. The extra “S” stands for secure. This encrypts a website’s content, making it more difficult to track you.

When you turn on HTTPS-First mode, Chrome’s HTTPS-First mode attempts to load all sites over HTTPS and displays a warning before visiting a site that doesn’t support it. Here’s how to enable it:

  • Open your Chrome browser.
  • Tap the three vertical dots to the right of your profile icon.
  • Select Settings.
  • Select Privacy and Security, then Security.
  • In the Advanced section, slide the toggle next to Always use secure connections to the right to enable it.

7. Don’t store your passwords in Chrome

The easiest way to create and keep track of strong, unique passwords is with a password manager. Some browsers come with a password manager built-in, but we recommend you use a dedicated one.

Our sponsor, Roboform, stores your passwords with just a tap or click. Online shopping and logins are easy thanks to its AutoFill function. Roboform is available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android and supports popular browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge and Opera.

Roboform uses AES 256-bit encryption and supports 2FA apps like Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator. Tap or click here for 50% off RoboForm everywhere subscriptions for Kim Komando users. That’s just $11.90 per year!

8. Avoid insecure websites

Make sure there’s HTTPS when browsing websites. Enabling HTTPS-First mode (step 6 above) will help in this matter. If you get a warning from Google that a site isn’t secure, stay away from it.

9. Switch to a different DNS

When you open your web browser and navigate to a website, you enter a domain name such as komando.com, and you’re there. This is made possible by DNS, or the Domain Name System, which translates domain names to IP addresses. This way, you don’t have to remember those numbers.

Your provider assigns you to its DNS server when you sign up for internet service, though it’s not always ideal. Your assigned DNS could be bogged down with traffic, running inefficient software, or other problems.

You can switch to a different DNS on Windows and Mac. Tap or click here for steps to changing DNS.

10. Don’t assume Incognito Mode makes you invisible

Incognito Mode works on a local level. When using the internet on one device, it won’t remember the pages you visited, your login credentials or searches. Nothing is saved, including cookies. If someone else uses the same device, they won’t be able to see what you were doing during a private browsing session.

On the other hand, Incognito Mode doesn’t hide your activity from the websites you visit. You can still be tracked, and your data can still be shared with third parties.

This is exemplified by Google, which collects and sells your data even if you’re using Incognito Mode. In fact, a U.S. judge recently allowed a $5 billion class-action lawsuit against Google to go to trial.

RELATED: Chrome users, make this change now to limit ad tracking

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