Securing Your Web BrowserApril 30, 2008 – 5:19 AM
This paper will help you configure your web browser for safer internet surfing. It is written for home computer users, students, small business workers, and any other person who works with limited Information Technology (IT) support and broadband (cable modem, DSL) or dial-up connectivity. Although the information in this document may be applicable to users with formal IT support as well, organizational IT policies should supersede these recommendations. If you are responsible for IT policies for your organization, please consider implementing these recommendations as part of your policy.
Today, web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari (to name a few), are installed on almost all computers. Because web browsers are used so frequently, it is vital to configure them securely. Often, the web browser that comes with an operating system is not set up in a secure default configuration. Not securing your web browser can lead quickly to a variety of computer problems caused by anything from spyware being installed without your knowledge to intruders taking control of your computer.
Ideally, computer users should evaluate the risks from the software they use. Many computers are sold with software already loaded. Whether installed by a computer manufacturer, operating system maker, Internet Service Provider, or by a retail store, the first step in assessing the vulnerability of your computer is to find out what software is installed and how one program will interact with another. Unfortunately, it is not practical for most people to perform this level of analysis.
There is an increasing threat from software attacks that take advantage of vulnerable web browsers. We have observed a trend whereby new software vulnerabilities are exploited and directed at web browsers through use of compromised or malicious web sites.