Protecting Web Browsers from Advertisers and Hackers - Anonymizing browsers for security

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It is common knowledge that the quantum of data the web browsers store is truly colossal. Attackers realize that enterprises rely heavily on browsers and exploit the websites to clandestinely install malicious code into enterprises through the Web browser. Again, personal information like individual passwords, account names and preferences that these browsers constantly keep collecting are prone to be misused by hackers to eventually take advantage of the user.

Web advertisements

There is no denying that online advertising has become a source of huge profit for the website owners and web adverts breed many free websites - particularly social networks, blogs and news sites. Web advertisements have a tremendous reach and as millions of users watch, it is for attackers a tempting invitation to install malicious code. It is a fact that advertising space on a website displays images and media to lure a user into clicking on them. After taking over the server hosting these advertisements, attackers adroitly use URL redirection to send users to a website hosting their malware.

Nature of threat

Most companies spend tons of money on Pay Per Click (PPC) ads to lure visitors to the web sites and several of these companies also engage experts for providing the latest web security measures to protect the sites from hackers. But the tragedy is all the efforts to attract visitors to the sites through search engines and PPC become futile because of certain unethical marketing companies that target the key words and phrases through contextual ads and divert visitors directly off the web sites.

The latest version Internet Explorer 7 has to a large extent overcome its vulnerability to security threats although the demerit is add-ons and expansions are not possible with Internet Explorer. This restricts the power to customize and exposes personal information to greater risks. The redeeming feature is Microsoft has provided in this version the facility to click on the “Tools” menu bar carrying the option for deleting the user’s browsing history.

Mozilla Firefox is an open source platform with the facility to delete personal information by clicking Tools menu and then the user has the “Clear Private Data” option. There are optional tools like ‘FoxTor’, ‘Distrust’, ‘Anonymization Toolbar’ and ‘Stealther’ that facilitate the user to browse with anonymity. These optional tools temporarily disable sensitive data like the user browsing history, cookies and stored information. One can click on the options menu and select ‘Clear browsing data’.

It is in the interests of online businesses, that Web browsing is made more secure business and online advertisements do not aid malicious hackers to exploit enterprises. Companies must strive to find a balance between security and business interests to arrest the amount of organized cyber crime.

There is a popular misconception that the computer is fully protected from viruses, spy wares and hackers by merely installing an Anti virus program. The most effective method is to have an effective Firewall, a reliable Anti-virus program and Anti-spyware programs and a well-secured browser. It is necessary to maintain constant vigil and when suspicious traffic or malware is found and the links must be immediately sent to the Anti-virus provider. This step will help the vendor to quickly analyze and provide a signature file for updates across the enterprise and also safeguard other enterprises.