How to Safeguard Your Online Activity on Google Chrome

Google Chrome, with its dominating 65% market share, is likely your browser of choice. Given its popularity, ensuring privacy and security while browsing is crucial. Here’s how you can leverage Chrome’s settings to safeguard your online activities and keep intrusive ads at bay.

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1. Activate Enhanced Protection and Secure Connections

Enhanced Protection Settings: Google Chrome offers three levels of protection—none, standard, and enhanced. The enhanced setting not only protects against malicious websites, downloads, and extensions but also notifies you of any password breaches. This feature is akin to services provided on Apple devices. To activate this, navigate to Settings, search for “security,” and select enhanced protection under the Security options.

Secure Connections: Further secure your browsing by enforcing HTTPS over HTTP. This ensures that you’re accessing the more secure version of websites whenever available. Enable this by selecting “always use secure connections” in the Advanced settings menu.

2. Use Trusted Extensions Only

The Chrome Web Store is teeming with extensions, but not all are safe. To avoid malicious ones:

  • Research the developer, prioritizing well-known entities like Google or Microsoft.
  • Check user reviews and feedback on forums or within the Chrome store.
  • Prefer extensions featured in Google’s editorial lists, which indicate a level of vetting.

3. Disable Third-party Advertising Trackers and Cookies

To minimize targeted ads and reduce data tracking:

  • Go to Chrome Settings and search for “advertising.”
  • Adjust the settings for Ad Topics, Site Suggested Ads, and Ad Measurement to opt out of personalized advertising.
  • To block third-party cookies, which can track your activity across different sites, select “block third-party cookies” in the cookie settings. Note that this may affect the functionality of some websites, so whitelist your frequently visited sites if needed.

4. Avoid Using Chrome’s Native Password Manager

While convenient, Chrome’s built-in password manager could pose a risk if the browser itself is compromised. Opt for a dedicated password manager like Bitwarden or Dashlane. These offer enhanced security features and are less likely to be breached alongside the browser. Additionally, disable Chrome’s default setting to offer to save passwords by navigating to chrome://password-manager/passwords and turning off the save prompt.

5. Regularly Delete Browsing Data

Regular clearing of your browsing data helps prevent profiling for targeted ads and reduces data vulnerabilities. Chrome allows you to clear data from various time ranges—be it the last 24 hours or all historical data. This can be done through the menu by selecting ‘Clear browsing data…’. Regularly cleaning your browser data is a good practice for maintaining privacy.

By implementing these steps, you can significantly enhance your online security and privacy while using Google Chrome. Whether you’re shopping online, browsing social media, or conducting research, these practices will help protect your digital footprint.