The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation this week offers some radical tips for private Internet users and businesses alike. Chief among them: disable autofill and remembering passwords.
It’s not entirely clear whether the FBI’s tips are meant to ensure online safety during the Coronavirus scare. Regardless, these dos and don’ts arrive amid a wave of Coronavirus-fueled scams circling the globe, so the tips come at an opportune time.
“Web browsers are how your devices access the Internet,” according to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. “They are, by nature, open to the world through contact with other machines connected to the Internet. Because of this, they’re a natural place for hackers to try to break into your networks.”
The Bureau warns Internet users that leaving default settings on for the browsers we use can leave us vulnerable to hackers. It also notes that each browser has differing levels of built-in privacy and security. It advises organizations, specifically, to “figure out which browser offers the privacy and security your staff is looking for.”
To maximize privacy and security, the FBI recommends that you:
• Disable autofill, remembering passwords, and browsing histories
• Do not accept cookies from third parties
• Clear all forms of browser history when closing the browser
• Block ad tracking
• Enable ‘do not track’ requests to be sent to websites
• Disable browser data collection
• When certificates are requested, ensure the browser requests your permission to provide them
• Disable cache (or storing) of web pages or other content, or set the cache size to zero
• Enable browser capabilities to block malicious, deceptive, or dangerous content
Users who choose to use add-ons to manage their online safety are told to do some research to check for any negative reports about the add-ons’ performance. Browsers are to be kept up to date and users should check the browsers themselves are owned by reputable companies, “preferably in the US,” the agency recommends. The reason?
“Other countries may have different laws about what browser companies must provide to foreign governments, which means your information on a foreign-owned app or browser may have less legal protection than it would in the United States,” the FBI notes.