Web browsers are a gate open to the internet. Although we may not realize it, we rely extensively on the use of web browsers to read emails or local news, to check the weather forecast or to manage our financial resources.
Weak browser security can very often lead to performance issues, malware infections or worse, to cybercriminals stealing your data and gaining control of your system.
Common ways in which browsers can be exploited
Browser injection. By means of injecting malware into your browser, cybercriminals can control everything your browser displays, change your home or search page or deny access to any security-related webpages (i.e. online scan services, antivirus vendors or antispyware tools). Also, malware can be silently downloaded without your knowledge.
Malware scripts may silently redirect you to malware-infected websites or to a fake page where your credentials are stolen.
Phishing sites or crafted links. Clicking on malicious links may silently redirect you to credential-harvesting or malware distribution websites; your browser can start making requests without your knowledge, connecting to malware storage servers owned by cybercriminals.
Malicious pop-up ads: some pop-up ads are malicious and disguise a phishing scheme or aim at tricking internet users into revealing personal information.
Rogue browser extensions or rogue security add-ons may spy on your online activities and even hijack your social network accounts.
Browser plugins can be exploited and may facilitate hackers’ access into your system.
Cookies. How can cookie-stealing affect you and your internet security? Well, your email account may be at risk, as the intruder can read and send out messages from your account, or he may even steal your banking credentials if the attack is performed while you are being logged in.
Now, how can you tell if your browser has been compromised?
Here are 4 common signs:
- access denied to antivirus providers’ websites or antispyware tools
- your home/ search page has been changed without your knowledge and you are having trouble restoring it
- huge amounts of pop-up ads
- new toolbars or search bars are enabled in your browser and you don’t remember installing them.
Tips for your internet security
Fortunately, there are some measures you can take to prevent these browser threats from sneaking up on you:
- keep software on your computer up-to-date, and do not forget to set your browser to automatically retrieve the latest available updates
- do not click on suspicious links
- make sure you always access sensitive data (web-based email, banking services) via secure connections
- never access your email via received links that claim you should change your password, for instance; access the email provider’s site directly instead, by typing the URL in your browser, or by using a trusted search engine
- never click on suspicious links received via email, even if they apparently come from a trusted sender; sometimes hackers can gain access to your friends’ systems and send out malicious software or crafted links on their behalf
- always use trusted providers to download software and avoid shady third-party websites
- create unique and strong passwords for your applications and change them on a regular basis
- always sign out from web applications when done, and make sure that while logged in you don’t visit malware-hosting websites.
We have seen that both improper security settings and social engineering tricks can put your browser’s security at risk. Get BullGuard Premium Protection to surf the internet safely and to protect you from phishing, malware, network intruders and more.
Posted by Elena Ionica