9 Easy Ways to Boost Web Security in Google Chrome
As we navigate a digital age where cyber-attacks strike every 11 seconds, reinforcing Chrome's security is vital.
Today's cybercriminals have evolved into masters of deception. Their skill in creating websites indistinguishable from the real deal means that our passwords - those keys to our online worlds - face relentless siege.
With Google Chrome's arsenal of in-built protective tools, amplifying its defenses isn't a mere recommendation; it's a necessity. We outline 10 ways to boost your security.
1) Tweak Chrome's Safe Browsing for optimal security
Google Chrome's Safe Browsing is enabled by default, guarding you against shady sites and dangerous downloads. But you can up your defense by switching to Enhanced Protection. Google's data suggests those activating Enhanced Protection are 35% less likely to fall victim to phishing scams.
Let's dive into your options for Safe Browsing:
- Enhanced Protection: Proactive, offering real-time alerts for suspect sites, downloads, extensions, and even password breaches. Note: This grants Google deeper insights into your browsing activities as you're sending your browsing activities.
- Standard Protection: Alerts you to questionable sites, downloads, and extensions. You also have the choice to get password breach notifications and to share extra security data with Google.
- Advanced: For those feeling tech-savvy, tailor the settings to fit your needs.
- No Protection: Ditch the safety net with no safety alerts or precautions.
Steps to modify Safe Browsing settings:
- Click the Three Dots in Chrome's top right.
- Go to Settings > Privacy and Security > Security.
- Under the Safe Browsing section, pick your desired setting.
- If maximum security is your aim, opt for Enhanced Protection. Remember that this mode allows Chrome to check URLs via Safe Browsing, linking the data to your Google Account momentarily.
2) Leverage Google Password Manager for strong passwords
Never compromise on password strength again. Google's Password Manager remembers all your passwords and ensures they're both strong and unique. Bid farewell to "86753099" and welcome in a new era of cyber-security.
How to use Google Password Manager:
- In Chrome, click the three vertical dots next to your profile icon.
- Select Settings.
- Under Autofill, click on Passwords.
- Ensure Offer to save passwords and Auto Sign-in are enabled.
- To check or modify saved passwords, scroll to the Saved Passwords section. To generate a strong password for a new account, click on the key icon when signing up on a website, and Google will suggest a robust password for you.
For more on password protection, read our password security guide for additional tips.
3) Fortify your passwords with enhanced encryption
While storing passwords in Google Password Manager is uber handy, you can beef up their security with enhanced encryption.
Here's your pathway to bolstering password encryption:
- Standard Encryption: The default choice. It uses Google's encryption methods, which store your passwords on their servers. When passwords zoom across the internet, they're cloaked, making it trickier for cybercriminals to snatch them. Yet, there's a slim possibility Google might peek.
- Advanced Encryption with Sync Passphrase (AES): This cranks up security with encrypted passwords on both ends. The perk? Only you possess the unlock key. On the flip side, it slightly complicates the syncing process, as you'll need the passphrase every time you activate sync on a new device. Some features like site suggestions, online password viewing, and history syncing are also disabled.
To arm Chrome with AES, a quick dive into settings gets the job done.
Adjust Chrome's encryption settings:
- Head to Chrome's Settings in the Three Dots menu in Chrome's top right.
- Tap You and Google in the left menu (ensure you're logged into your Google Account).
- Tap Sync.
- Under Sync, click Encryption Options.
- Choose an encryption method. For standard encryption, select Encrypt Synced Passwords with Your Google Account. Otherwise, select Advanced Encryption with Sync Passphrase for fortified encryption, which keeps passwords safer from prying eyes.
4) Deploy Chrome's Safety Check
Bolster your browser's defenses with Chrome's Safety Check. It actively scans for:
- Compromised, weak, or reused passwords
- Pending updates
- Confirmation that Safe Browsing is active
- Potentially harmful extensions
Steps to run a Safety Check:
- Click the three vertical dots next to your profile icon in Chrome.
- Select Settings.
- Navigate to Privacy and security on the left panel.
- Tap the Check Now button under Safety Check.
- If issues emerge, click the prompt and follow on-screen guidance.
5) Clear cache and cookie data
Chrome stashes info from websites you visit, storing them in its cache and cookies. Cookies can be time savers, keeping you logged in or personalizing settings on websites you visit. Yet, they can have a dark side when it comes to security:
- Tracking Cookies: Advertisers monitor your online activities and build a profile about you. In the wrong hands, they reveal much about your habits, preferences, and even location.
- Third-Party Cookies: Cookies from another site that can be exploited to monitor your actions without you knowing.
- Session Hijacking: Stealing your session cookie lets attackers impersonate you on a site and access your account.
- Expired Cookies: Cookies that don't expire properly increase vulnerability.
- Weak Encryption: Unencrypted cookies can be snatched, especially on insecure networks.
Clear your cookies? A smart move for more privacy and tighter security.
Steps to clear cache and cookies in Chrome:
- Click the three vertical dots in the top right corner of Chrome.
- Select Settings.
- Scroll down and click Privacy and security.
- Choose Clear browsing data.
- Ensure Cookies and other site data and Cached images and files are on.
- Click Clear data to finish the job.
Note: Doing this might log you out from some sites, so keep those passwords handy!
6) Opt-out of Topics API in Chrome
After shelving FLoC, Google's Topics API refines interest-based advertising, sidestepping the intrusiveness of third-party cookies. Where FLoC categorized users into "cohorts," Topics API tailors ads to your specific interests from 470 topics.
Your Chrome browser keeps track of topics you seem interested in over time. Chrome can then deduce which subjects are your top interests by checking which topics appear most frequently in your browsing history. This list is updated weekly to offer advertisers a refined targeting method without peeking at your specific site visits.
Curious about your topical profile through Google's lens? Navigate through Chrome's settings to discover. You can block specific topics or opt-out altogether if you value your privacy.
Want to opt out? Here's how:
- Open Chrome Settings.
- Navigate to Privacy and Security on the left panel.
- Select Ad Privacy. Choose to turn on or off the following:
- Add topics: Use the Ad topics toggle to either switch off entirely or manage individual topics under Your topics.
- Site-suggested ads: Websites you browse can gauge your preferences and pitch ads accordingly. Choose to toggle this on or off.
- Ad measurement: This allows sites and advertisers to gauge their ads' performance. Opt to disable.
7) Prioritize secure browsing with HTTPS-First mode
Many websites rely on Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). But HTTP has a glaring flaw: it leaves your privacy out in the open.
With HTTP, browser requests to view a site are in plain text for all to see. Any nosy hacker monitoring the connection can read your requests, posing risks when keying in passwords or credit card numbers.
Enter HTTPS, where the "S" stands for secure. Notice the padlock icon next to a URL in your browser. That's your sign of a secure connection.
Boost your browsing protection by activating Chrome's HTTPS-First mode. This setting nudges Chrome towards HTTPS and waves a red flag when it stumbles upon less secure HTTP.
Activate HTTPS-First mode:
- Launch Chrome Settings.
- Head to Privacy and security > Security.
- Under the Advanced section, turn on Always use secure connections.
8) Be cautious with Chrome Extensions
Extensions might seem like the Swiss Army knife of Chrome - fixing your grammar, blocking annoying ads, and more. Yet, some can lurk with darker intentions, from browser hijacking to covert spying to malware.
Rule of thumb? Stick with trusted sources when adding extensions. Google recently added web store badges to help you rank the extension's credibility.
Want to check or manage your extensions? Type chrome://extensions/ into Chrome's address bar. Here, the Details button will give you a peek into each extension's permissions and a direct link to its Chrome Web Store page. And if an extension seems shady, remove it!
9) Keep Chrome up to date
Staying updated is your first line of defense. Chrome frequently scans for updates and fetches them instantly. These updates apply automatically the next time you restart your browser.
Haven't closed Chrome recently? You might notice a pending update indicator at the top right. Click Update or restart Chrome. The process is quick, ensuring you won't lose your tabs.
Cybersecurity isn't a set-it-and-forget-it deal; it demands ongoing attention. Knowing the ins and outs of potential risks, from weak passwords to invasive tracking cookies, puts you in control. By diving deep into Chrome's security features, you can make your online experience safer and more private.
Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.