Secure your web browser
Today, web browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari are installed on almost all computers. Because web browsers are used so frequently, it is vital to configure them securely. Often, the web browser that comes with an operating system is not set up in a secure default configuration. Not securing your web browser can lead quickly to a variety of computer problems caused by anything from spyware being installed without your knowledge to intruders taking control of your computer.
There is an increasing threat from software attacks that take advantage of vulnerable web browsers. We have observed new software vulnerabilities being exploited and directed at web browsers through use of compromised or malicious websites. This problem is made worse by a number of factors, including the following:
- Many users have a tendency to click on links without considering the risks of their actions.
- Web page addresses can be disguised or take you to an unexpected site.
- Many web browsers are configured to provide increased functionality at the cost of decreased security.
- New security vulnerabilities are often discovered after the software is configured and packaged by the manufacturer.
- Computer systems and software packages may be bundled with additional software, which increases the number of vulnerabilities that may be attacked.
- Third-party software may not have a mechanism for receiving security updates.
- Many websites require that users enable certain features or install more software, putting the computer at additional risk.
- Many users do not know how to configure their web browsers securely.
- Many users are unwilling to enable or disable functionality as required to secure their web browser.
As a result, exploiting vulnerabilities in web browsers has become a popular way for attackers to compromise computer systems.
How to Secure Your Web Browser
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) is a web browser integrated into the Microsoft Windows operating system. For up-to-date information on security and privacy settings for Internet Explorer, visit http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/internet-explorer/ie-security-privacy-setting.
Mozilla Firefox is a popular third-party browser for Windows, Mac, and Linux. To learn how to keep your information safe and secure with Firefox's private browsing, password features and other security settings, visit https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/products/firefox/privacy-and-security.
Apple Safari is installed on its line of computers, tables, and phones. For information on the Safari’s security settings on Apple devices, visit https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT20126. For information on Safari installed on computers, visit http://help.apple.com/safari/mac/8.0/ and select “Privacy and security” on the menu.
In 2012, Google Chrome became the most widely used browser worldwide, according to Stat Counter and other sources. For more information on Chrome’s security, safety and reporting features, visit https://support.google.com/chrome#topic=3421433 and select the options displayed under the topic.
Other web browsers may have similar options to those described above. Please refer to each browser's documentation to determine which options are available and how to make the necessary changes. For example, the links below show where to find security information for two other web browsers: