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Safety & security

Tech how-to: Lock down Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari for maximum security

There are many web browsers out there, but these are the four most popular: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Apple’s Safari. They have their differences, but they also have many similarities.

Sadly, one of their similarities is they can all be hacked in various ways. A hack can lead to your private information getting out, and cause personal or financial harm to you. Tap or click here for signs that your device has been hacked.  

There are ways you can make your web browsers more secure, though, and prevent hacks and malware from messing with your machine. Read on to see what you can activate in your browsers to lock them down and make them more secure.

Don’t make it easy to get your location, microphone or camera

Many web browsers access your geographic location via your IP address to ensure your web searches give you local results. They also often have direct access to your built-in camera and microphone so you can easily make video calls on certain sites.

This is all very convenient, but also a huge security risk. Hackers and malware can learn your location if your browser knows it at all times, as well as access your camera or mic and record you. Tap or click here to see a hacker accessing a security camera.

Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari can all help mitigate this risk through their settings. They each have the ability to turn off access to your location, camera and microphone, and instead ask permission every time before trying to access them.

While in the browser, simply go to your Settings/Preferences page, and look under “Privacy,” or “Privacy and security.” Under Location/Location Services, select “Deny without prompting,” or turn on “Ask before accessing.”

Do the same under Camera and Microphone in your Privacy settings. On a Mac, you may need to go into your computer settings to adjust access, rather than just Safari. But for the other browsers, you should have the ability to require access.

Stop automatic downloads before they start

Like location services and quick access to your camera, it can be convenient for your browser to download something the second you click on it. But it can also get you to download malware or other viruses because you didn’t look over a file first.

Opening downloads can create similar security problems. Keep yourself safer from malware by disabling automatic downloads on your web browser.

In Chrome, head to the “Privacy and security” heading in your Settings, and click on “Content settings.” Click on “Automatic downloads” in there, and toggle the “Ask when a site…” switch to on.

In Safari, open your Preferences, and click on the “File download location” drop-down menu in the General tab. Select “Ask for each download,” so Safari asks for a file name, and a location for each download, instead of just downloading it.

In Firefox, head to Preferences, click on the “General” tab and look for the “Applications” header. With each content type listed, make sure the Action is “Always ask” to prevent any file type from being saved automatically.

In Edge, go to your Settings, then Advanced Settings, and look for the “Downloads” section. Set the “Ask me what to do with each download” toggle there to “On” so your computer doesn’t accidentally save a virus.

Disable pop-ups and redirects

Pop-up windows and redirects in webpages are annoying, but like automatic downloads, they also can give you malware to combat. Have your web browser disable pop-ups and page redirects, and/or need your permission to run them.

In Chrome, you’re still heading to “Privacy and security” under Settings. Click “Site settings,” then “Pop-ups and redirects,” and set that setting to “Blocked.”

In Safari, you’ll want to head to Preferences and the Security tab. Check the “Block pop-up windows” box to disable pop-ups. The steps are the same in Firefox, it’s just called the Privacy and Security tab, instead of just Security.

In Edge, head to your Settings, then click More to get to “Site permissions.” Select “Pop-ups and redirects,” and shift the “Block” toggle to “On.”

Make private browsing your friend

Using private windows, also known as incognito mode in Chrome, doesn’t make you completely secure while browsing. Hackers can still potentially access your IP address and computer data.

Private windows don’t save your browsing history, cookies, site data, or form information though. Tap or click here for more about incognito mode.

That’s all still really great for security, so it’s great to add to your list of things to do with your browser from this article. It’s also really easy to open a private window.

Just right click on your web browser application, and select “New private/incognito window” from the options that appear there. On a Mac, you can access this option from the top application menu bar as well.

Keep your browser up to date

Developers are constantly looking for weak spots in their web browsers. If they find any, they fix them and send that patch out in a software update for the browser. Patches and updates can also contain fixes for issues a web browser is having. Plus, it can include preemptive security against new viruses appearing on the web.

It’s therefore very important to keep your web browser up to date. It’s also easy to do! Simply do a web search for your browser, and download the latest update available on the developer website.

Most browsers will also let you update your browser via their menus. Just know you’ll probably have to re-launch your browser once you update, so make sure you save any pages and work you’re doing before going for it!

Get a VPN

Hiding your IP address can abate many of the security risks you face online. It allows you to conceal your location and most personal information that can be gathered about you on websites too.

Using a VPN lets you hide your IP address as often as you like. Some VPNs are free, but many those can’t be trusted and have been caught selling user’s information. Instead, we recommend our sponsor ExpressVPN.

Use the VPN that Kim uses, ExpressVPN. Try ExpressVPN for 30-days free! Get 3 months free when you sign up for one year at ExpressVPN.com/Kim.

Make sure your web browser stays nice and safe as you explore the internet. Follow our advice above, and enjoy the freedom security can bring to your online experience!

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