Series 2 – Browsers and Browsing for small business – Part 1

Series 2 – Browsers and Browsing for small business – Part 1

Many of us have a love hate relationship with our browsers. I mean you can’t live without them, right? But then, without warning, they turn on you – pop ups, adware, cookies. So what is a person to do?

Business and residential users of all the well-known browsers really need to understand how to manage settings, extensions, and updates! The more you know the safer your online life will be. Then you need to schedule settings checkups (at least every 6 months).

Today we will tackle extensions or add-ons. These can add features to your browser – like ad blocking – that can really add security to your browser. Beware, though, that some extensions can link adware to track your browsing and shopping queries. Let’s get into it…open your browser and type in a search for “browser name here (ie Chrome) extensions” and read through the results that you see. I would highly recommend that you only go to official sites like Firefox’s@ addons.mozilla.org and chrome.google.com/webstore to download add-ons!

Take a minute to scroll through the tremendous number of extensions, before you dig into a search. As you look at what is on offer, note how many stars and users you see AND do not click on any extension until you have done some research! Here is an example: in the Webstore there are 24 PDF extensions, some of them are familiar and have good star ratings and a large number of downloads, but others have only a handful of downloads. Keep in mind that when you install an add-on, it will have special permissions to access specific items, like PDF file types. Well, if I work with PDF contract files, I need to be extra careful to find a reliable extension from a respected source – else I may inadvertently allow hackers to suck my PDF file content!

Now it’s time to get the extensions that every safe browser should have. Search for ‘ad blockers’ and select the one that has the best reviews. Many blockers are free, and may request a donation. Next, unless you already use a password vault, I would look at password extensions. This is one time when paying a small amount to get a subscription is worth it. For my money, it was 1Password@, but shop for your best fit. Next time you have to enter a password, the extension will step in and ask if you want it to save the credentials to the app, which is a huge help in keeping secure! I have also added a website blocker extension, and a couple of add-ons to use with my office applications.

To manage your extensions/add-ons, you will have to follow the specific steps for your browser. In Chrome, click on the 3 vertical dots < more tools < extensions and you can see all of the extensions that you have and the details of what each has permissions to do – like ‘Allow access to file URLs’. In Firefox, click on the top right 3 bars and navigate to Add-ons. As you do your browsing, certain adware may add hidden extensions that collect and share your data. This is why I recommend that you check your add-ons regularly!

Check in next time for browser Privacy and Security settings, and don’t forget to leave a comment, we would love to hear from you!

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