Basic Computer Security/Web Security/Web Browser Security
Choosing a Secure Web Browser[edit | edit source]
There are many different web browsers available to you, all of which will display the web in a similar way. However, they are all built in different ways, and for this reason the security features employed in each will be different. Listed below are some of the popular browsers:
- Microsoft Internet Explorer
- Mozilla Firefox
- Google Chrome
Extensions[edit | edit source]
The extensions AdBlock Plus, Ghostery, and NoScript (ScriptSafe for Chrome users) can help protect against infection. Never enable ads because they are an attack vector. If you wish to support a webmaster, author, or site, then make a donation directly to them.
Microsoft Internet Explorer[edit | edit source]
Though in the past Internet Explorer (abbreviated to IE) was described as a generally insecure browser, much has been done to keep its users safe on the Internet. With version 7 of Internet Explorer, there are a wide range of security features that have been employed. This particular version checks visited websites against a black-list of reported phishing websites to try and ensure that you do not give your details away to a fraudulent website. Whilst this is not 100% effective, it helps keep your data secure. IE7 supports the latest data encryption technologies as well as the most up-to-date web certificate verification techniques. IE 7 will automatically check a website's security certificate to see whether or not it is valid. IE will not let a website download or install a program without your explicit consent.
Unfortunately, Internet Explorer 7 is only supported in Windows XP SP2 (or above) and Windows Vista. For this reason many people tend to opt for Mozilla Firefox, which will work on almost any version of Windows.
Mozilla Firefox[edit | edit source]
Mozilla Firefox has for a very long time been touted as a very secure web browser. As it is open source, any holes in the browser are patched quickly as there are always a large number of people developing patches at any one time. The security features employed in Firefox are almost identical to those used in Internet Explorer, checking websites against phishing black-lists, supporting certificates and encryption, and giving the user complete control over downloaders and installers. Another advantage of Firefox over Internet Explorer is that it is compatible with multiple operating systems as well as most versions of Windows.
Safari[edit | edit source]
Safari is the proprietary browser for Apple's computers as well as the iPhone. While generally secure under Apple systems, the Windows version of the Safari browser has had problems. These problems are regarding "carpet bombing." Since many Windows users have multiple web browsers installed, the carpet bombing technique makes use of a "blended attack". The original carpet bomb would allow the download of files onto the system without user confirmation. A second flaw allowed files to be stolen from the users computer.
Opera[edit | edit source]
Opera is a proprietary web browser based on open-source code but is not as common as the other already listed. It has some special security features, e.g. cookie and cache clean up every time the browser shuts down and a possibility to edit cookies directly from the browser.
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Web browser security summary
- The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)
- Opera security