Whether during personal use or business use, the client web browser is a source of vulnerability.
First, the browsing destination itself could be infected by malware. A Menlo security report shared that one in three of the top one million Alexa domains are “risky” – meaning that they’re either already compromised or running vulnerable software and therefore at risk of compromise by groups or individuals planning the next attack. Over one-fifth (21%) of sites were running software with known vulnerabilities. In addition, email phishing scams typically direct the user to a website to collect sensitive information such as passwords or account information. Second, security teams struggle with protecting the proliferation of different browser types and versions on employees’ computers. ESG research indicates that 88% of organizations say that multiple browsers on each endpoint is a common phenomenon.
Let’s take a look at several techniques available for personal and/or business use to help ensure safer browsing. We’ll also look at some options particularly targeted for personal use to help ensure private browsing.
Using Google’s ‘Safe Browsing’
Google says their anti-malware technologies – Safe Browsing – now helps protect 3 billion devices. Safe Browsing helps to identify sites that might try to phish you, or sites that install malware or other undesirable software. Safari and Firefox protect users with Safe Browsing as well. If you use an up-to-date version of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, you are receiving this level of protection by default. Google’s Safe Browsing Transparency Report provides more details about the threats detected.
Isolating Your Browser
Also known as using a remote browser, browser isolation is an option in two places: on the client web browser, where 80 percent of the malware is getting into the enterprise; and on the servers in the data center. Many solutions in this area are virtualization based, meaning you use a virtual machine to browse. Browsing in this way means persistent cookies can’t be used because the virtual machine is torn down each time the browser is closed. While this may be ok in a corporate environment, those doing personal browsing may not find this acceptable.
To protect a large number of users in a cost-effective manner, some vendors are turning away from browser isolation via virtualization and moving toward a containerized approach. This approach claims to reduce cost by requiring less server infrastructure to run. Learn more about browser isolation and some of the players in this space.
Using Private or Incognito Mode
The private or incognito mode available in web browsers provides more privacy for your browsing. While using your browser in this mode won’t keep all of your browsing private or secure, it does offer some advantages like removing temporary browsing data. All major browsers offer some form of private browsing.
Using a Secure or Private Browser
Several web browsers on the market take a privacy-first approach to browsing the web. These browsers offer additional privacy beyond that found when using private or incognito mode. Browsers in this category include Epic, Comodo, Brave, and Tor.
Using a Virtual Private Network Service
Using a virtual private network (VPN) service is another way to ensure anonymous web browsing. When using a VPN, websites cannot determine who you are or where you are. In addition, the VPN allows you to use search the web without having your searches logged by the search vendor. You can find many reputable reviews and comparison guides online through a simple search of ‘top vpn services’.
Whether your focus is on security, privacy, or both, there are many new technologies and new vendors to assess on the path to safer web browsing.