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Securing your browser: Safari

safari-logoApple Mac users will be much more familiar with Safari – an internet browser – than Windows users. It’s the default option for getting on the internet on Apple computers, and therefore every Mac user has opened it at least once (I used it to download Chrome!). It’s generally considered quite a safe browser, but there are always methods to improve the default security settings. Read on to learn how to make Safari even more secure.

Accessing your Safari settings

The following changes to your security settings all take place inside Safari’s Preferences tab. You can access them by:

  • Clicking “Safari” in the menu at the top-left of the screen
  • Choose “Preferences”

Preferences allows you to tweak many of your Safari settings, so have a look around. We’ll be focusing on just the security settings, however.

Settings to change

With Preferences open, you should see a tick box at the bottom of the window, allowing you to toggle the option “Open ‘safe’ files after downloading”. Turn this off – there’s no need to allow Safari to automatically open any files that you haven’t told it to.

Next click the “AutoFill” tab at the top. In this panel you can choose to turn off “AutoFill”, Safari’s system for automatically complete web forms. If you’re worried that other people might steal your computer, untick these boxes to prevent Safari from storing your details.

Personally, I leave it turned on, as I feel my computer is rarely far from my side. Also, my system is password-locked at the user account level.

The “Passwords” tab shows you any stored passwords inside Safari. Again, you can choose whether you want Safari to use AutoFill to store your passwords. Most people allow their browsers to do this, but if you want to be really secure, however, turn the option off.

When you open the “Security” tab, make sure it has “Warn when visiting a fraudulent website” and “Block pop-up windows” ticked. This will help prevent you from encountering harmful websites.

Open “Manage Website Settings” and see if “Java” is listed in the new page. If so, click on it and change the setting to “Ask”. Java is a powerful tool that some websites use to gain extra functionality, but it can also be exploited by criminals to automatically install malware. Changing the setting to “Ask” ensures that it won’t run without your permission. If you have family using the computer, you might want to switch it to “Block”, so no-one else can run Java apps.

The “Extensions” tab shows any add-on software you’ve installed into Safari. It’s often a hiding place for software you didn’t mean to install, so have a look through and if there are any apps you don’t recognise, uninstall them. You can also turn off Extensions completely, ensuring that you don’t get any more unwanted apps in the future.

Phew, we’re done. Your Safari is now more secure than ever before – good job!

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