It is key for your cybersecurity to know how to protect yourself while browsing the internet.
With about half of the world’s entire population now online in 2021 (that’s over 4 billion internet users), knowing how to browse the internet safely should be considered common knowledge. Alas, this is not the case even though several million people are now more cyber aware than ever before. The need to be cyber aware rings true at a time when cybercrime is peaking and majorly profiting from breaches, attack campaigns, and scams. Thousands of organizations and millions of people worldwide are victims of cybercrime and cyber scams. Trillions of dollars are being lost every year because of it. So, surfing ‘naked’ is no longer safe on a multi-dimensional internet landscape, which was once one-dimensional and not profitable for cybercriminals. Secondly, surveillance is everywhere, and it is on the internet as well so our privacy is no longer there. Additionally, the problem of unfair data collection is present too, so ethics and morals are out the window too. On an internet landscape like this, it would be ridiculous to access anything without being armed with an arsenal of cybersecurity knowledge and tools that secure your safety and privacy as well as make the browsing experience much more ethical and moral.
So, how does this apply to the topic of safe browsing practices? We can start with a visual representation. Take a moment to imagine over 4 billion of us with our web browsers open, accessing all kinds of websites, accounts, and services via laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Think about how many billions of devices are online, how much information is being shared as a result, and how many platforms via millions of servers are being interacted with every minute. The amount of data circulating the internet every second is so colossal that it is impossible to measure. Now, to drive the point, let’s think about the fact that the vast amount of internet access worldwide is passed through a web browser. With that put into perspective, we now need to understand what safe browsing practices are.
What is Safe Browsing?
Safe browsing is just that, safely browsing the internet. In the general sense, that is indeed the gist of it, however, once we dive deeper into what that truly means there is quite a lot to talk about. Simply put, safe browsing (or safe surfing, secure web browsing) is a set of online behaviors that make your browsing experience immeasurably better while browsing the internet. Safe browsing standards have evolved to accommodate all of the negative scenarios on the internet over the years, and there is a lot of data on that. These behaviors, often called best practices in the cybersecurity industry, are what constitutes a safe, private, ethical, and moral internet experience for everyone.
Safe Browsing Best Practice
There are plenty of statistics, analyses, and specialist recommendations publicly available that are tuned towards teaching you safe browsing best practices. They go beyond purely your web browser, too, as there are some other aspects of your system and habits you need to tune to create a truly safe browsing environment. Some of the most useful suggestions fall into categories such as; password hygiene, network security, software updates, system backup, and finally, the actual browser features themself. Here is a more specific list;
- Avoid websites that do not have the lock icon or HTTPS in the URL address bar
- Check the security certificate of the website by clicking on the lock icon
- Avoid connecting to public WiFi hotspots without a VPN
- Disable auto-completion of passwords and use a verified password manager
- Never use the same password for more than one account
- Use a premium Virtual Private Network or VPN software at all times
- Always run a premium antivirus program with real-time scanning capabilities
- Strictly avoid clicking on emails from unknown senders
- Beware of malicious popups and ads, use an ad pro adblocker
- Access the internet via a specialized safety/privacy browser
- Activate the specialized browser’s safety and privacy features
- Browse the internet in private or anonymous mode via the browser
- Give your home browser a long, randomized password
- Make sure your web browser, applications, and operating system are up-to-date
- Backup all of your data to an offline disk
- Opt-out of marketing and ads
All of the above steps are equally as important and are in no particular order. Think of them as a pilot’s thorough safety and preparation checklist before a flight. If you can apply all or most of the above steps successfully, you have yourself a safe browsing environment. Yes, it is rather a lengthy process but an entirely necessary one if you want to avoid the issues we talked about in the introduction section.