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Web Browser Security for Small Businesses

Web Browser Security for Small Businesses | CyberDot

Web browser security is a crucial part of your company’s cybersecurity strategy. Risks like accidentally downloading a virus or visiting an unsecured website can leave your details susceptible to hacking. Most web browser security policies focus on preventing you and your employees from accidentally downloading malware and viruses. They work best in conjunction with other cybersecurity best practices.

Conveniently, best practices for web browser security in a business setting almost exactly mirror those for personal computers. So, you can learn how to keep your non-work-related devices secure at the same time you discover how to protect your company devices and network.

Best Practices for Web Browser Security

Stay on Top of Patch Management

The first thing to keep in mind when it comes to web browser security is similar to security best practices for software: always install patches and updates. As with software, updates and patches help the browser counter known threats. This means that if you do not update your browser when a patch is available, you leave yourself open to a security breach.  Updating eliminates a threat that the browser’s developers are already aware of and offer a solution for. In other words, you open yourself up to unnecessary security risks by putting off updates. You can check out our Small Business Guide to Handling Patch Management.

Block Pop-Ups

Secure browsing and pop-ups do not go together. Pop-ups take up space on the screen, which can be distracting and hurt productivity. They can also hide malicious activities. Sometimes, if you click on a pop-up link, it will automatically download and/or install malware. The link may also take you to a website with malware waiting to harvest your data. Luckily, it is now standard for most browsers to block pop-ups and you can supplement this with one of many browser extensions.

Be Selective About Extensions

Speaking of browser extensions, they should feature a key role in your web browser security policy. Many browser add-ons and extensions do in fact increase the functionality of your browser or boost productivity. There are, however, some companies that design add-ons and extensions with malicious intent. To avoid this problem, only install extensions and other add-ons that come from a company you trust thanks to its proven track record. As a bonus, the fewer add-ons you have in your browser, the more quickly it will run.

Take Care with Cookies

Cookies are the small text files the cache of your browser deposits when you visit a specific website. Websites that you visit directly deposit “first party” cookies. These contain information like login credentials, so you can more quickly log into accounts in the future and websites can remember you. While these cookies add convenience, they also provide information that cybercriminals will want. External advertisers or websites will deposit “third party” cookies when you visit a website to track your activities. The goal can be something like marketing or more sinister.

When it comes to creating a cookie policy, keep in mind that unless you act, they can stay on your system for at least weeks. You can change this by going to your browser’s cookie management settings to set a frequency with which you want the system to delete cookies. This leads to a careful balancing act as you likely want to be able to quickly login without having to input your username, but this puts you at risk.

Create and Enforce Download Policies

Another part of your web browser security policies is to create some sort of policy regarding downloads and enforcing it. After all, an employee can accidentally download a virus or other malware onto a computer and put the entire network at risk. Make sure that your policy ensures that downloads can only come from sources that are reputable, such as known manufacturers and developers.

One often overlooked part of a download policy is streaming. In many ways, streaming functions similarly to downloading and cybercriminals can insert malicious code into these streams. If possible, set up your company devices so downloads can only come from specific websites or require some sort of authorization code that only certain people can provide.

Pay Attention to Privacy Settings

When creating your policy for web browser security, don’t forget to include guidelines for privacy settings. You can avoid many of the cyber-risks just by having the ideal privacy settings in place. Start by disabling tracking, which will stop many web pages from tracking you across the internet. You should also be hesitant to use auto-fill and never let your browser store your passwords.

Disable ActiveX

It is common for there to be differing opinions as to which browser is the best, but if you choose to use one that involves ActiveX, so Internet Explorer or Edge, consider disabling ActiveX. This feature mediates between these Microsoft browsers and Flash and Java interactions on specific websites. Cybersecurity experts, however, have concerns that ActiveX makes it easy for malicious software to get into your system. Luckily, ActiveX is not frequently used, but you should still take the time to disable it on company computers with Edge, Internet Explorer, or related browsers.

Cautiously Disable Flash and JavaScript

While JavaScript and Flash are incredibly useful and an important part of some websites, they are also a sneaky method for malicious software and other unwanted elements to enter your computer. In fact, spam uses them on various websites, including the most popular ones.

There are two options here and the one you choose will depend on your business. You can completely disable JavaScript if you do not need to access websites that rely on it. A better option, however, will be to set up the browser so JavaScript can only run on specific websites where you require it. If you discover another website that requires JavaScript, add it to the list.

Supplement with Security Software

Combine all the above web browser policies with the use of reputable security software. Most of the best anti-malware and anti-virus software that you will choose for your business should also include internet security. If it does not, either choose a different anti-malware suite or get separate software for internet security.