Saturday, May 3, 2014

Browsers: Armor Up

So, I've been working on getting ahead a bit in browser security.  Here is why and a few hows.

The economy of the web is doubtless primarily based on advertising revenue.  The advertising takes advantage of cookies, third party scripts, etc.   There is nothing inherently evil in this, but...
Today, web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari (to name a few), 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.  CERT

Look at it this way:  advertisers and webhosts want to maximize the number of eyes they get in front of. Malware pushers use the same tactics.  The key then is control the amount of exposure to potentially bad content while preserving a useful level of web content.  If you have to drive to a store through a part of town with a lot of carjackings, you would probably lock your doors while driving through and park in a well lighted area once you got there.  Use the internet in the same manner.

Stuff I have found useful for providing a secure browsing environment:

  1. Open DNS  - Secure the DNS lookup first.  
  2. Iron - A Chrome-based browser with the Google tracking cut out.  Keep your browser up to date regardless of what it is.  It took Microsoft a week (and a chapping by Homeland Security) to secure Internet Explorer recently.  
  3. Browser Plugins
    1. Adblock Plus - You haven't been using this for years? 
    2. NoScript - Decide what scripts you will allow to run.
    3. ghostery - See and control the trackers.