How web browsers are doing their bit to become safer and faster
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Everyone has a favourite web browser. User friendly layout, stability, speed and cool features are some of the factors which users keep in mind while picking their preferred web browser. Apart from the comfort of using a browser and the features it has, security is a concern for many users. The internet service providers (ISPs) track your data and websites stalk you with surprisingly precise advertisements. A recent malware called Fireball, which affected 250 million PCs, also targets web browsers first. Here is what your selected web browser is doing to ward off data privacy and security threats.
The menace of ads
When it comes to carrying online advertisements or ads many websites don’t know where to draw a line. Most modern day ads are often in the face of the user. Besides distracting users, they also slow down the browser by diverting resources and internet bandwidth. Opera is one of the pioneers when it comes to tackling the menace. Its browser comes with a built-in ad blocker which blocks ads right in the search engine, when a network request for a URL is first being made by the user. They claim this improves browsing speed by 90% and pages load 40% faster, by blocking unnecessary web traffic.
Apple will use artificial intelligence in the Safari browser to identify ad trackers, segregate their scripting data, and remove them on its own. This tool will be available on Safari browser on the High Sierra version of macOS.
Google has also decided to clamp down on annoying ads, but selectively. The company is planning to curtail ads which do not comply with the guidelines set by an industry group called Coalition for Better Ads in Chrome browser from 2018. The idea is to filter certain types of ads which are more annoying and distractive in nature such as pop-up ads, countdown ads which make users wait, huge sticky ads at the top of the webpage and auto playing video ads with sound.
Most websites try to keep track of your activities through cookies. Cookies are small text files on your computer. They are created by websites you visit and carry information such as site preferences or login details. They are useful for password protected websites which you access regularly, however, they can be misused by websites to track the user and deliver more targeted ads.
Users can avoid this by removing their cookie history. Most browsers such as Chrome, Firefox allow users to wipe the cookie history. Users can access them while cleaning their browsing history.
Opera offers a built-in VPN client with unlimited data usage within its desktop browser. VPNs or virtual private networks are services that redirect your web traffic through servers located in different countries. This replaces your IP address with a virtual IP address and makes it difficult for websites or ISPs to track your location or identify your PC.
Unlike VPN services, VPN on Opera is free. It doesn’t collect user data and uses 256-bit encryption to keep online communication secure. This makes browsing on public Wi-Fi networks safer.
Iceland-based Vivaldi browser also gives high priority to user privacy. It protects user privacy by preventing WebRTC (Web Real Time communication) tool from broadcasting user’s IP address. WebRTC is a modern tool used by web browsers to run communication services such as messaging apps without plugins. Its drawback is that the IP address gets disclosed. Vivaldi also uses Google’s Safe browsing API to block suspicious websites.
Safe Browsing is also available in the Chrome browser. It is basically a filter which shows a warning sign to users before they land on a site suspected of containing malwares or other threats.
Google also uses a tool called Sandboxing to prevent malware from installing itself on one’s PC. It adds an extra layer of protection against malicious web pages which try to install programs on your computer and steal personal information from the PC.