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How to Protect Yourself Online

So many options are available to you just to use the internet. Which browser should I use? Do I need an adblocker? What are cookies?

First of all, what browser do you choose? Google Chrome is the most secure and Tech Lab’s recommended browser. Mozilla Firefox and Safari are other reasonably secure options. Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer are less secure. That being said, if you can’t get to a site on Chrome, try Edge or Internet Explorer, though beware because the site is probably sketchy.

Additionally, in each browser you can add extensions to make your Internet experience safer: 

  1. Safe search: If you choose a safe search extension, you will be prevented from clicking on bad links. Odds are, your antivirus adds this to your browser for you, but you can also search extensions to add this.
  2. Ad blocker: This blocks popups. It is less necessary than it once was, but it’s still useful. Be careful of which one you choose, as the wrong one can expose you to risks you don’t want. We recommend uBlock Origin no matter what browser you prefer. 

Your browser itself will warn you sometimes of the security of a site. Sometimes, even without any extensions, it will recommend that you not go to the website. This is your computer trying to protect you. Sometimes it will tell you that a site is not secure. If it tells you that a site is not secure, we recommend not putting in any important information like passwords or bank information. You will also know if a website is secure if you see the lock icon in the left corner of your address bar.

Many browsers will ask to save your information, including your email and address, your credit card information, and passwords. This prevents you from having to type in and remember all this information. This can be a great way to remember a lot of different passwords, but we recommend having another copy somewhere of the passwords as well. That way, if you lose your device, you still have all your passwords. You also need to be sure that if you are saving your credit card information you are using a secure website which you can trust.

A new feature that has been recently added to many browsers is syncing. This feature allows you to see the same websites you were surfing on one device to show up exactly the same on another device like your phone or tablet. If you have saved any passwords or credit card information on that browser, they will also show up on that other device. If you take advantage of this feature (e.g., to save passwords or financial information), make sure that your account has a password on it that you don’t use anywhere else.

If you are experiencing problems connecting to certain websites you can also clear your browsing history, temporary Internet files, saved passwords, and cookies. Deleting cookies prevents companies’ websites from tracking you. You can find these settings in Chrome under More Tools. Be aware that when you delete these items they are gone forever and you cannot get this information back without accessing it another way. If you are not sure how to clear this data, call Tech Lab to help at 414-208-4682.

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