As of October 2022, there are 38.08 million internet users in Canada (Source: Statista). Internet use is widespread and is an important aspect in everyday functioning. Internet use is essential for communication, accessing news and information, entertainment, online shopping, connecting socially and online banking. Some of the more popular web browsers that Canadians like to use are Google Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge (formerly Internet Explorer) and Firefox. Here are some tips for secure and safe web browsing.
Clear your web browser cache and cookies
It’s always good practice to periodically clear your web browser cache and cookies. When you visit a website, your browser stores: information, downloads and files. When you update applications, your browser may still use old files that can cause display or access problems. Clearing your browser cache and cookies prevents you from using old forms, protects your personal information and makes your applications on your computer, tablet or smartphone run smoother. To find out more how to clear your browser cache and cookies, click here.
Keep your browser updated
Whether you’re using a smartphone, a tablet or laptop, your web browser is your first point of contact with the internet. By updating your browser, you’ll get the latest features and security patches to keep your device safe. On most operating systems, a software update will automatically update your browser so always ensure you have the latest software updates installed.
Desktop pop-ups from your operating system are unavoidable but pop-ups from web browsers can be blocked. Browser pop-ups typically open new browser windows to push advertisements and some can contain malicious links or inappropriate content. Most browsers come with filters that automatically block pop-ups and enable you to allow them for those trusted sites where they may be advantageous.
Check Google’s safe browsing site status
Unsure if a website is safe to visit? You can use Google’s free transparency report application. Google’s “safe browsing” technology examines billions of website addresses (URLs) per day and detects unsafe or compromised websites. You can simply type in a website into Google’s transparency report application to determine if the website you want to visit is safe. The application can be found here.
Turn on private browsing
Turning on private browsing or “incognito mode”, protects your private information and blocks some websites from tracking your search and browsing data. If you’re logged-in your online banking or a social media account, you will be automatically logged out of any open accounts as soon as a private browsing session ends. Most browsers offer private browsing such as Firefox, Chrome and Safari.
Stop visiting websites without HTTPS
You may notice that some website addresses (URLs) start with HTTP while others have HTTPS. Without getting overly technical, HTTPS is a protocol for computers that is encrypted which makes a website you visit more secure than HTTP. The easiest way to tell if you’re visiting a secure website is by looking to the left of the web address. If you see the “lock” symbol, this means you’re visiting a secure website, or a website using HTTPS. If you see an exclamation mark to the left of the web address, this means the connection is not secure.
Be cautious of what files you download
Downloading music, applications, games and images is a common practice when browsing the internet. However, it’s important to avoid carelessly downloading applications or applications as you can potentially be exposed to a virus or malware. Only download applications or files from a reputable source. If you’re unsure that a file may be unsafe to download, you can always cancel the download process in the download toolbar.
Use a trustworthy browser
The more popular browsers like Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Windows Internet Explorer/Edge provide regular security updates to deal with malicious websites.
There are plenty of resources out there to keep you informed on how to browse safely. Practicing safe browsing minimizes the chances of your device being compromised by a virus or malware and decreases the likelihood of a 3rd party gaining accessing to your information.