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Securing your browser: Firefox

FirefoxA few weeks ago we looked at what a browser was, and if you are Internet Explorer, how to make it more secure:

This week we’ve turned our attention to Firefox users, with just two simple tips to help secure a well-defended browser.

The non-profit corporation Mozilla created Firefox in order to challenge dominance of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. It’s always been designed with computer users in mind, with security and performance top priorities. However, there are still ways you can be safer when using it.

Securing Firefox: Add a Master Password

Firefox has a system for storing your passwords in the browser, so you can easily login to websites and also check what your password is. Some versions of Firefox don’t put a password on this system, however, so that anyone sitting at your computer could open up Firefox’s password vault and steal all of your passwords.

If you’re concerned about this, don’t worry: the browser offers a way for users to add a Master Password that prevents anyone from accessing this stored information. All you need to do is:

1. Click Tools (on a Mac, choose “Firefox” then “Preferences”) in the top menu
2. Now click Options
3. Choose the Security tab
4. Tick Set Master Password

Now pick a password to protect your information. Remember: if you forget this password, you won’t be able to access any of your saved logins in your browser, so try to pick something that is both secure and memorable.

Securing Firefox: Check you security options

Firefox, like Google’s Chrome and Internet Explorer, will block websites that it considers unsafe (they’re called “Attack Sites” in Firefox”). However, you need to make sure this and other useful security options are turned on.

Check your security settings by:

  1. Click Tools (on a Mac, choose “Firefox” then “Preferences”) in the top menu
  2. Now click Options
  3. Choose the Security tab

Now make sure the following options are ticked:

  • Warn me when sites try to install add-ons
  • Block reported attack site
  • Block reported web forgeries

Bonus: extension issues

Firefox, like Google Chrome, allows you to download “extensions” to your browser to improve your internet experience. For example, a dictionary extension allows you to easily look-up the definition of a word.

Many of these extensions are safe, having been developed by passionate users. Some, however, are secretly malware pretending to be useful, and are really designed to damage your computer. If you’re unsure how to tell what extensions are safe, it’s best to avoid them all together.

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