How to make Google Chrome safer

6 min

Using a computer is like driving a car. Everyone wishes to move fast, but safety always comes first. People put a lot of effort into securing their Web surfing. Being well aware of that, software developers strive to create secure programs. The more popular and multipurpose a given application is, the more responsible and difficult the task is. Google Chrome is the top browser in the world, so aiming for security is a priority. A question can be phrased quite simply, though:

Is Chrome browser safe?

Google is a giant of the Internet, and so is its browser. Its vast dominance on the market shows that it’s widely considered the best. But history shows that no program is superior forever. The fierce competition between browsers (browser wars) brought big changes to the market in the 1990s and 2000s. One of the reasons that Google Chrome is the current winner is its continual improvement. Many updates and subsequent versions don’t mean that the program isn’t complete and functional. On the contrary, it is superior to the competition thanks to these changes. And this concerns security features, too. So the answer to the above simple question is: Chrome browser is as secure as it can be. But you can always make it safer yourself.

Browser safety and software imperfections

Designing a Web browser is an extremely difficult and responsible task. There has been a worldwide trend for several years now to consolidate many various tasks in this one program. A long time ago, it just displayed Web contents, nothing more. Nowadays, it replaces a text editor, a gaming console, mailing software, a chat, a calendar, project management software, banking endpoint, webpage and graphic editor, and more. Programmers introduce many features and optimizations for all the technologies employed by these apps. A lot of them could introduce security breaches for the hackers to exploit. Google doesn’t claim its products are flawless because they can’t be. Perfecting any application is extremely costly and time-consuming. Instead, Chrome is rigorously tested. And there is also the Chrome Vulnerability Reward Program. It’s basically an idea to pay anyone for finding and reporting a weakness. This way, errors can be fixed as soon as possible before hackers manage to find them.

Chrome browser’s top security features

Let’s have a look at some Google Chrome security features. 

Google Safe Browsing 

First, there is Google Safe Browsing. This is the system behind the many warnings that the browser displays instead of a website. This might seem like a simple mechanism, but it requires very sophisticated technology. Google owns enough resources to analyze many millions of pages and constantly update a database of dangerous sites. These contain malware, social engineering threats (phishing), or unwanted software. Chrome makes practical use of this data by verifying if a website you request is blacklisted. If it is, instead of loading it normally, a large warning is displayed. A similar warning pops up when downloading an unsafe file. This service is so robust that other software also uses it: Safari, Firefox, Android’s Play Store, and many others. Thanks to the publicly available API, any developer can make use of Google Safe Browsing for non-commercial purposes.

Incognito Mode

The Incognito Mode is also an important safety and privacy feature. It is a window separated in a certain way from the rest of the browser activity. What does it mean? It has a second browsing session. When this window is closed, all the associated browsing history, cookies, and locally stored data are wiped. This is especially useful if you use a computer you don’t own. Incognito mode allows you to leave much fewer traces of your browsing activity on a device. But you need to remember that it makes no difference regarding traces you leave online, outside the browser. It gives zero protection from tracking by remote services, hackers, or your ISP.

HTTPS Protocol

The HTTPS protocol was a great milestone in securing the WWW and is a must-have feature in any browser. It encrypts data transfer to and from the server, which takes security to another level. This protocol must be chosen by website creators, not visitors. Nowadays, it’s so widespread that the choice is obvious in any new web service. Still, it is a crucial point in Google Chrome security checkup. Every site using the older HTTP protocol has been marked as not secure since 2018.

Site Isolation

Another important Google Chrome security feature is Site Isolation. It fights off a very dangerous type of attack: unauthorized access. Malicious software embedded in a website attempts to infiltrate another innocent page you’re currently visiting. This is typically forbidden, but malware takes advantage of security weaknesses and tries to bypass the normal rules. Thanks to the isolation idea, webpages are logically shielded from one another. It’s much harder to find a crack in this additional protection.

Every web browser, however advanced, is still a tool. It’s a piece of software you can upgrade. Use it to your advantage! How to secure Google Chrome?

How do I secure my Google Chrome browser?

To express things logically, let’s divide methods of securing your browser into two groups. Your everyday behavior is a base for the first. The others depend on automatic mechanisms you can install: browser extensions.

Securing Chrome by yourself – good habits

Good habits are a way to prosperity in any area. This includes habits of protecting yourself online. What are the top ones? In short: be careful and reasonable.

Don’t ignore Google Chrome’s warnings

First of all, if you’re not a cybersecurity expert, you need to put an amount of trust in your Chrome. Don’t ignore its warnings – they exist for your protection! Many smart solutions work to detect deceptive sites, malicious downloads, or phishing attempts. They’re not always perfect, but don’t disregard them. Think twice before accessing anything you’ve been warned from just because it appears alright.

Many attacks attempt to fool Internet users and convince them to act irresponsibly. If banners or notifications start playing on your emotions, be extra careful! Popular frauds claim that you need to install a program to prevent virus infection. Others insist you must act immediately before some obscure calamity happens. These are probably tricking you to let malware in. Don’t download anything from untrusted sources. Also, don’t share any sensitive information with unauthorized parties. All of these are phishing attempts. They can use psychological techniques to trick you into letting danger into your system.

Keep your Google Chrome updated

The next piece of advice for Chrome security checkups is plain and simple: keep your software updated. As explained above, frequent updates don’t mean that the browser is flawed. On the contrary, they prove that it’s keeping up with users’ expectations and security requirements. Chrome developers work on this hard job. Your task is simply to accept the results. Waiting for the updates to get installed is a very low price to pay.

Always check your Google Chrome extensions

The last piece of advice concerns your approach to Google Chrome security extensions. These additions to the browser require certain privileges to work correctly. They can be the weak spot of the otherwise safe browser. Hackers exploit existing vulnerabilities in them or create new, malicious ones. To stay safe, use only extensions from the legitimate source: Chrome Web Store. Google Safe Browsing works inside it and marks the untrusted add-ons. This doesn’t guarantee safety, though. Always check if the extension you’ve found is truly the one you’ve been looking for. Also, read some reviews from other users to verify its usefulness and security.

Extensions safeguarding your Google Chrome

The browser by itself is for browsing the WWW only. The functionalities going beyond that scope are covered by the available extensions. Many add to the privacy and security above the standard provided by Google Chrome. Here follow several of the useful and popular antiviral, anti-tracking, ad blocking, and VPN extensions for Chrome.

  1. Avast Online Security & Privacy. Avast is one of the top free antivirus software. This extension’s top feature is assessing Google search results. Every website is marked as safe or unsafe. It also warns you from entering a website deemed risky. It also blocks many intrusive and tracking cookies, thus increasing your privacy.
  2. tuxlerVPN. If you care about your online privacy, then VPN is for you. It encrypts your data transfer and alters your IP address to hinder tracking you. tuxlerVPN comes in several versions, including a Chrome extension. It covers the browser traffic only, not every Internet connection your device makes. It’s a handy solution when an app guarding the whole computer isn’t for you.
  3. Ghostery. This extension increases your privacy by blocking advertisements and tracking scripts. It provides information about the companies which track your activities and lets you choose what to unblock. The method employed is maintaining a library of data collection tools and comparing your browser’s web requests with its resources.
  4. Malwarebytes Browser Guard. This Google Chrome security extension comes from malware-fighting experts. Its primary function is to block malicious websites. Besides, it blocks trackers and advertisements, which can speed up webpage loading. It also prevents several types of phishing attacks.
  5. Privacy Badger. As the name implies, this extension protects your privacy with a specific technique. It learns which online entities track the Internet users across multiple websites. These are the third-party trackers, which can be especially intrusive and collect far more data than you’d like to share. Privacy Badger can learn both remotely (in communication with the database) and locally by monitoring who specifically tracks you.
  6. Click&Clean. This add-on simplifies and upgrades the possibilities of removing data stored on your computer. It extends options of deleting browsing history, cache, cookies, forms data, and remembered passwords. Moreover, it allows more advanced users to view web pages saved in your browser’s cache. 

Google Chrome is the most popular browser there is, but not necessarily the safest one. There are other solutions aiming for maximum security and privacy. These aren’t as user-friendly, they have worse tech support and are generally made for advanced users. But now you know you don’t need to become a cybersecurity expert to protect yourself. Just a few reasonable habits and extensions can greatly increase safety and stop online trackers. Try out the available ad blockers, VPN add-ons, anti-trackers, and anti-malware. And stay safe online!

BackNext article