Choosing a web browser: Security

26th March, 2010

This is the second post in our series of posts to help inform you about what to look for when choosing a Web browser. Read our previous post for some starting points, or read on for more information about browsers and your online security, privacy and data.

What should I look for?

Your privacy online is an important aspect of choosing your browser. Your browsing history generates an enormous amount of personal information about you and your interests. The nature of the Web means the sites you go to will have a record of your visit (by your “IP address”, a unique number which identifies your computer on the Internet), and this data is also stored in your browser. Some browsers allow you to choose whether this data is collected, or to delete this data after you have visited a website. On the other hand, the browser supplier may have access to all this information collected about you. If this is a concern, we strongly recommend reading the privacy policy of the software you’re using or considering.

Your online security is also very important, particularly if you share personal information such as credit card details while shopping or banking online. Some browsers contain features to help you identify online scams (“phishing”), malicious software (“malware”) or sites which have been compromised. Familiarise yourself with the security options your chosen browser offers (usually described on the browser’s website), and always use the most up-to-date version of your browser to protect yourself against the latest threats.

Finally, your browser can make managing your online data easy! As we spend more and more time online, we create and share more data about ourselves: bookmarks (also called favourites), browsing history, and passwords. It can be difficult to remember all your passwords or find a site you visited weeks earlier, so being able to access this data and even move it from one computer to another can be extremely useful. Several browsers allow you to do this, thus giving you “anytime, anywhere” access to your information.

We’d love to hear your comments on what you think are the most important things to consider when thinking about the security of your browser. Stay tuned for our next post on customising your browser to your needs.

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