What is Browser Hardening and Why Should Business Owners Know the Concept?

As a responsible business owner, you are likely taking every precaution to make sure you are protecting your data and ensuring that your network is as secure as possible. If you haven’t heard the term yet, consider exploring how Browser Hardening can help you enhance your security and privacy as a business owner.  

What it is 

‘Browser hardening’ refers to ways in which we can tweak our web browser’s settings, with the goal of enhancing its security and privacy. This is something that should be receiving extra attention, especially because of the increased number of people working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Employees may find themselves using laptops that may not have been configured as securely as possible, due to time restraints, or BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) laptops that have never been protected by Internal IT. The risks of unsafe internet usage on your business are significant. This is a reasonable way to make some simple adjustments to make your team (and your business) that much more secure.  

How to get started 

A great starting point is exploring your browser’s settings page and making some adjustments. You can add to this by installing and configuring plug-ins. More advanced options exist ‘under the hood’ of most browsers, for example Firefox’s about:config page. Here’s what you should click into.  

Your settings page  

Always ask where to save files. This can help prevent some drive-by download attacks. We have been aware of attacks over several years whereby users visiting websites may have files automatically downloaded without the user being aware. Having the browser prompt users where to store the file helps to mitigate this issue. 

Change the default search engine. Using any of Google’s products submits a wealth of metadata to them, including but not limited to your operating system, IP address, search terms, location and browsing history. An alternative search engine such as DuckDuckGo greatly reduces the amount of information disclosure, whilst maintaining an acceptable quality of search results for general browsing. 

Security plug-ins 

Pop up blockers such as uBlock Origin blocks ads, pop-ups, trackers, and remote fonts. Other blockers are also available. This helps protect against advertising malware via ad blocking, and therefore reduces the risk of interacting with malicious websites. Then there are the many invisible tracking scripts, pixel trackers, 3rd party cookies and finger printers on the market today. All of these are means of obtaining often sensitive, information about the device, web browsing activity and the user. Preventing these trackers, scripts, and ads from loading is not only beneficial for security and privacy, they can reduce the strain on your Internet connection too.  

The use of plug-ins can be a balancing act. As more plug-ins installed in the browser, the more unique it becomes online. In some cases, this can enable more effective fingerprinting. But it can also be offset with privacy and malware protection, so it may be worth considering. 

Learn more about what you can do to better protect your data. Connect with the team at Happy Faces Records Management today. 

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