With just under 70 percent of the total global market share, it’s safe to say that Google Chrome is the world’s favorite browser. In fact, its next competitor, Apple’s Safari, comes in at around 17 percent of the market, according to Statista.
There are several good reasons why Chrome is so popular; it’s fast, responsive, intuitive, and customizable, to name a few. But Chrome isn’t perfect, not least from a privacy and security perspective. In regards to the former, it’s actually considered the worst of all the browsers, collecting and trading astonishing amounts of data about your browsing habits.
Google’s revenue is largely dependent on ads, and to make this business model successful, it needs your data. Not just from Chrome either, but from any extension or application you have linked to your Google account. Think incognito mode is better? Think again, as it’s far from a privacy panacea.
Nevertheless, plenty of users are happy to trade their data in return for convenience. Google knows this and that’s a huge driver behind Chrome’s success.
Top 5 Ways Secure Your Chrome Browser
If you’re concerned about how secure and private your Chrome browser is, but you’re not ready to switch to a different program, there are a few things you can do to boost your browser’s security and privacy.
In no particular order, here are five top ways to secure your Chrome browser in 2021.
1 Use a Virtual Private Network
Once thought of as shadowy tools used by those with something to hide, Virtual private Networks (VPNs) have now risen to the fore as both privacy and cybersecurity tools rolled into one package. Their use is so pervasive now that major hardware manufacturers, such as HP, have teamed up with VPN companies and are including the software as standard on new computers.
If you haven’t jumped on the VPN train yet, it’s time to make the switch. You have two options when it comes to securing Chrome with a VPN: either put a VPN app on your device or use a VPN extension on your browser.
What a VPN does is generate a private browsing network, as the name suggests. And in the process, your VPN encrypts all your traffic and data transmissions, making your activity incredibly difficult to spy on.
It’s important that you choose a high-quality, paid VPN subscription as free VPNs are notorious for collecting then selling your data — exactly what you’re trying to avoid in the first place!
2 Clean up your extensions and add-ons
Chrome is so big that these days it’s as much a platform as it is a browser. If you’re running multiple unnecessary extensions, you’re probably giving away a lot of intel, not to mention affecting Chrome’s performance.
To double-check which apps and extensions are clinging to your browser, type chrome:extensions into your address bar. Next, take your time to evaluate each app or extension on the list. If you spot a program you don’t recognize or don’t need anymore, use the Remove button to delete it.
3 Secure your Google account with 2FA
One of the things users love about Chrome is how well it’s integrated into G Suite and the Google ecosystem as a whole. With that in mind, it only makes sense to ensure your Google account is properly secured with two-factor authentication (2FA).
With 2FA, you add another essential layer of protection to your account, making it much less likely to be hacked or compromised by threat actors. To get started, open your Google account then select Security. Look for the Signing in to Google section then select 2-Step Verification and follow the on-screen prompts.
4 Get HTTPS Everywhere
A few years back, people started making the switch from the less secure HTTP security protocol to the far better, and safer, HTTPS. But just because the change is enacted by many websites, it’s now true for all. In fact, plenty of sites still run with the older, now troubling HTTP security certificate.
You can tell which protocol a site is running by looking for the small lock icon to the left of your browser’s address bar. If you see a lock, the site has SSL certificate, and if you see a small exclamation mark, the site has HTTP only.
Suffice to say, you’re better off avoiding transactions on HTTP sites, which can be an issue if you’re trying to buy from your favorite small business owner, for example. However, with the HTTPS Everywhere Chrome extension, you can secure every single website you visit.
We know we said to trim extensions you don’t need, but we think HTTPS Everywhere and other security extensions are absolute must-haves.
5 Use Chrome’s in-built security settings to their full capabilities
It would be nice if when you first started using Chrome the default settings were set to the most private and secure options. But as we mentioned, Chrome is very data hungry and as a result, its default settings are far from the most restrictive, or secure.
The good news is that you can do something about this by tweaking your browser’s settings to up the security and privacy ante. Here’s how:
- In Settings / Privacy, you should set the following:
- Protect You And Your Device From Dangerous Sites
- Send A Do Not Track Request With Your Browsing Traffic
- In Passwords, uncheck the following:
- Enable Autofill To Fill Out Web Forms In A Single Click
- Offer To Save Your Web Passwords
- In System, deselect the following:
- Continue Running Background Apps When Google Chrome Is Closed
- In Content settings, check the following:
- Cookies – Keep local data until you quit your browser to clear your cache
- Location – Don’t allow sites to track your physical location
- Notifications: Don’t allow sites to show notifications
Chrome is fast, intuitive, and eminently user-friendly. But it’s not the sleek minimalist platform it once was. Now, it’s basically its own ecosystem with myriad add-ons, apps, and third-party tie-ins, and as a result, it’s less secure than many people know. Follow our five top tips today and start making your Chrome browser, and your data, more secure.