Quick 101 to browsing the Internet safely

There's all kinds of nasty stuff out there on the Internet. Scammers, hackers, bots and creepers galore! Keep yourself safe with these simple hints for browsing the web.

If you are using a desktop computer, try out the following (this can be done on Windows, MacOS or GNU/Linux):

  • use a free, open source web browser such as Firefox or Brave.

Firefox isn't the slow web browser that was second to Chrome anymore! Since it's Quantum update, stock Firefox now loads and renders pages much, much faster than Chrome. Brave is similar to Chrome in that it is built on the same Chromium base and uses the Blink rendering engine, but is open source and has adblocking + anti-tracking features enabled as standard.

  • install uBlock Origin.

No adblocker can compare with UO. It is lightweight, fast, very well maintained and keeps you safe from ads, malware, suspicious domain and scripts on the Internet. AdBlock Plus or it's derivative can't hold a candle to UO, so if you are going to do just one thing from this list honestly give it a try. Pages will load faster and safer as a result.

  • use a password manager like 1Password

1Password has saved my digital life. No more do I have to worry about remembering countless unique passwords for different accounts, it saves and even generates unique passwords for each of your accounts. It auto-fills login boxes when you visit a website, so all you need to remember is one master password (one that controls 1Password, hence the name).

It's got it all! 2FA, secure document upload, notifications for compromised logins (thanks to Troy Hunt's Have I Been Pwned), and more. It is a paid service (approximately $50 NZD per year) but well worth it in my opinion.

There are other password managers out there such as LastPass and Dashlane, but I've stuck with 1Password as I've found their product to be the most polished (they have a detailed whitepaper available explaining what is powering 1PW). They also have a much better track record than LastPass, who suffered a major data breach several years ago (subsequently revealing poor security practices made by the company)

  • use a VPN!

VPNs can help to encrypt and secure the traffic between you and whatever website you are visiting. While it cannot completely anonymise or mask your identity, a VPN is great to stop your ISP from harvesting your information, and to protect yourself from attack when connected to public Wi-Fi hotspots. Mullvad, ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access are all great, reputable VPN services.

  • encrypt your DNS.

Switch from your default ISP's DNS service to something faster and more secure like Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1 or Quad9's 9.9.9.9 (both are free!)

So, to summarise:
Use uBlock Origin! Non-negotiable!
Use Firefox
Unique passwords for everything using a password manager
Use a VPN + encrypted DNS service

Stay safe out there!


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