Internet browser settings that everyone should make

To surf the Internet, you need a browser. How secure and comfortable they are, everyone can regulate through personal settings. But some adjustments should be made by everyone – for the security of personal data.

In the market, five major Internet browsers dominate the field in particular. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera and Apple Safari divide a large part of the Internet users among themselves. Right from the start, however, the Internet browsers are not as secure as the specialized alternatives Tor, DuckDuckGo, etc. Some settings are required so that users can surf the Internet really securely and comfortably.

Avoid advertising tracking via Internet browsers

Advertising companies, for example, like to make use of so-called third-party cookies that the browser stores. In this way, they try to track users’ surfing behavior and find out their interests. As a result, the user then receives personalized advertising, for example.

“This tracking, however, can be blocked. Some browsers such as Safari, Firefox and Edge can already do this by default. All you have to do is activate the tracking blockers in the settings under ‘Privacy and security’,” says Jo Bager from the trade magazine “c’t”.

However, cookies are not bad per se: they also mean a certain comfort when surfing, because they ensure that certain data does not have to be entered again each time. They are ultimately small text files through which a system recognizes users when they visit a page again.

Arne Arnold from the trade magazine PC Welt advises at least blocking third-party cookies, because this would prevent all partner pages of visited websites from leaving their scent mark in the browser.

Caution with default settings in the Internet browser

Another important setting regarding cookies can be found in the Chrome browser under “Privacy and Security.” There, the setting “Preload pages to speed up browsing and searching” is switched on by default.

“If this setting is activated, Chrome can automatically call up websites and the user receives cookies from these sites, even if he does not visit them at all,” warns Dennis Kochinky of “Computer BILD.” Users should not accept this.

Data guzzler Google – alternative search engines can help

The background to all this data collection is the business models of browser providers. “Google lives from advertising. The Chrome browser therefore tracks everything that goes. Firefox, in turn, earns by using Google as a search engine here,” Arnold explains.

He therefore also advises Firefox users to deselect Google as the default search engine and instead rely on a search engine such as Startpage. “The search results are the same, but personal data is filtered out,” Arnold said.

When it comes to comfort, many users include personal bookmarks, with which everyone can create a directory of the websites that are most important to them. However, they are not tied to the browser. “Transferring bookmarks works between all common browsers. To do this, you just have to export the bookmarks as a file in the old browser and then you can import them in the new browser,” Arnold explains.

Autofill feature in Chrome and Safari can be dangerous

For more convenience, one browser on all devices

It is practical to use one’s personalized browser on all devices. “All major browser manufacturers make it possible to synchronize tabs, bookmarks, passwords and settings between the desktop and mobile browser,” says Bager. However, users should make sure to additionally encrypt passwords with their own password, otherwise the browser manufacturer could read them.

Caution is advised with extensions (add-ons), with which the functions of the browsers can be expanded. “The problem is: many browser extensions allow the user to grant them far-reaching rights in order to function,” says Bager.

Settings such as “Allow this extension to read and change all my data on websites I visit” are not uncommon. However, this enables the extensions to track users. They can even be used as attack tools, which has happened in the past, he said.

With material from dpa