How to Use Web Browser Security to Surf the Internet Safer

Web Browser Security Help You Stay Safe

Your web browser has tools and built-in security that can help you stay safe from malware, attacks, phishing and all the problems that can come from the Internet. I’ll go through each of the three popular browsers so you can see how to access the security settings. I’ll also make recommendations so you’ll know what security you gain with your choices.

There are tradeoffs when it comes to browser security. High levels of control and safety mean less convenience for the user. It’s a personal decision how much inconvenience you are willing to put up with for security’s sake. In our experience, people who have been infected by malware from the internet find it such a hassle and expense to deal with that the inconvenience of browser security becomes a minor price to pay for prevention.

A few notes:

  1. The change that will affect your browsing experience the most will be if you elect to disable JavaScript (described below). It’s helpful for security purposes to do so, but will make many websites virtually unusable and you’ll have to specify those trusted sites as exceptions to have the sites operate properly (if possible).
  2. The most critical thing to do to keep browsing safe is to keep your browser updated.
  3. These suggestions are in addition to your (updated) anti-virus and in no way replace that tool.


In Chrome, you’ll find this icon  in the upper right corner, just below the X to close the window. On the drop-down list, click the “Settings” menu selection. At the bottom of the page, click on “Show Advanced Settings” to see more options.

Other than the specific selections discussed below, you can use the (Recommended) suggestions from Google.

  • If you have a Gmail account, you can have it automatically synced to your browser. When you do that, however; Google stores passwords, personal information, and autofill data on their servers. For maximum browser security, disconnect your Gmail account from your browser.
  • Click to “Enable phishing and malware protection”.
  • If you click on “Use a prediction service to help complete searches and URLS typed in the address bar”, realize every search you make will be sent to Google. It’s safer not to enable this setting.
  • Just below the Privacy Heading, there is a Content Settings button. On that screen, the safer choices are:
  •      Keep local data only until I quit my browser
  •      Block third-party cookies and site data
  •      Do not allow any site to run JavaScript. Java Script is known to have security vulnerabilities that many hackers use to gain access to your computer. You can specify sites you know are safe, if you wish, with the “Manage Exceptions” button. Remember this change will affect how many websites display.


In Firefox, you access browser security and other settings using the Firefox drop down button  found on the upper left side of the screen. Select the “Options” menu selection and then select “Options” again.

Under the “Content” button:

  • Block pop-up windows
  • If you want maximum browser security, do not enable JavaScript. Note: This will affect how many, if not most, websites function. This security measure is problematic with Firefox since you can’t specify exceptions where JavaScript is allowed.

Under the “Privacy” button:

  • Tell sites you do not want to be tracked

Under “History”, tell Firefox to “Use custom settings for history”.

  • Then, deselect “Remember my browsing and download history”, “Remember search and form history”, and say “Never” at “Accept third-party cookies”.
  • At the “Keep until:” selection, choose “I close Firefox”.
  • Select “Clear history when Firefox closes”.

Under “Security”, make sure you select “Warn me when sites try to install add-ons”, “Block reported attack sites”, and “Block reported web forgeries”.

Under “Passwords”, make sure “Remember passwords for sites” is not selected.

  • Don’t use the “Sync” button to set up Firefox sync. If you do, they store your passwords, log-ins and personal information on their servers. It’s safer not to let them have that information.

Under the “Advanced” button, there are tabs. On the “Update” tab, make sure automatic updates are turned on so you’ll have the latest browser security-related changes.

  • It’s a good idea to also select “Automatically Update: Search Engines”

On the “Encryption” tab, make sure “Use SSL3.0” and “Use TLS 1.0” are selected. These are security protocols.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

To access browser security controls in Internet Explorer, click on the “Tools” button   in the upper right hand corner, just below the X to close the window. Select “Internet Options”.Then, scroll down until you see the “Security” choices. Start by making sure the following are selected:

On the “General” tab, select “Delete browsing history on exit”.

On the “Security” tab, select each of the zones and specify the security level you want. “Medium-high” or higher.

  • Still on the “Security” tab, select “Custom Level”, scroll down until you see “Scripting” with “Active Scripting” under it, and click on “Disable” to disable JavaScript. This will keep you from being a victim of the security weaknesses of JavaScript but will significantly change what you see on your websites. If you need significant protection, however, disabling JavaScript may be worth it.

On the “Privacy” tab, under “Select a setting for the internet zone”, choose Medium High or higher.

  • Still on the “Privacy” tab, choose to never allow websites to request your location.
  • Just below that, turn on the Pop-up blocker.

On the “Content” tab; click on the “Settings” button in the AutoComplete section. Turn off AutoComplete for “Forms” and “User Names”.

On the “Advanced” tab; start by clicking on the “Restore advanced settings” button if you are unsure whether original settings have been changed.

  • Then, scroll down until you see the “Security” choices. Start by making sure the following are selected:
  •      “Do not save encrypted pages to disk.”
  •      “Empty Temporary Internet Files when browser is closed”. This prevents IE from saving your login and password information and other personal data.

Back up on the “Tools” button, there is a “Safety” option. Select “Tracking Protection”. There, you can create a customized list of websites you do not want to be able to track your browsing activity. Alternatively, you can select “Get a Tracking Protection List online” to see a list of already-created lists you can download.

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