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Tips to make your browser secure

Tips to make your browser secure
MUNICH: Web browsers are the key to the internet. Without them the internet is an impenetrable black box.

Browsers may be among the most commonly used applications, but they also offer the greatest number of attack options for dangerous content on the net. To keep viruses, worms and other malware away from your computer when surfing, it's crucial to configure your browser for security.

The firewall on a DSL router is a good first step for protecting the computer during surfing, says Marco Rinne from the computer portal chip.de. But that doesn't hold true if your browser is out of date: “Internet Explorer 6 and 7 or Firefox 2 no longer satisfy current security standards,” he says. For optimal protection, he therefore urges users to keep their browsers updated.

There are numerous security tools already present in Firefox and Internet Explorer. The pop-up blocker, for example, prevents more than just annoying ads. It also throttles other windows that can be used to sneak malicious software onto PCs. Phishing filters protect personal data against theft.

Firefox offers additional configuration options under the Settings item in the Security tab of the Options dialog box: this includes the ability to block risky or forged websites. It's also a good idea to prohibit websites from installing add-ons on their own. Similar settings are possible under Internet Explorer in the Security tab of the Internet Options dialog box, accessible from the Tools menu.

Computer owners should also activate all options for warning against attacks, advises Markus Linnemann, managing director of the Institute for Internet Security (ifis) at the Polytechnic University of Gelsenkirchen in Germany. This applies in particular to warnings about suspicious content to be displayed using ActiveX, Flash, or JavaScript.

Yet the warning mechanism on most browsers alone isn't usually enough, Linnemann says. Those who wish to be especially careful can, for example, use the Firefox add-on 'No Script,' which blocks all active content of a website by default and allows the user to decide which should be permitted. The problem is that most users are unable to determine which content represents a threat to their computer, Rinne msays.

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