Google Chrome is the most popular web browser on the planet. It’s fast and smooth, supports thousands of extensions, syncs data across multiple platforms, and doesn’t have any compatibility issues. Google also puts a lot of effort into securing the browser with a constant barrage of updates. But you can also play your part to make using Chrome even safer.
For example, did you know that you can encrypt your Chrome browsing data with something called a “sync passphrase”? Or the fact that Chrome comes with its built-in malware scan and removal tool? If not, let’s take a look at some of the best Chrome security settings and tips you can change or implement right away.
1. Use a sync passphrase
Sign in to Chrome with a Google account, and you can sync your browsing data (like your favorites, passwords, and autofill information) seamlessly across all devices. If your account details are compromised, anyone can access this data. Fortunately, you can use a sync passphrase to prevent this from happening.
Basically, a sync passphrase is kind of a secondary password. It starts by encrypting the various forms of data stored on Google’s servers and decrypts them after their local synchronization with a device.
Since only you know your sync passphrase, no one should be able to access your data in the event of an account violation. Obviously, this only works if you play your part in security.
To set up a sync passphrase, display the Settings screen in Chrome and go to Sync & Google services> Encryption options. Next, select “Encrypt synced data with your own sync passphrase” to create a sync passphrase. Then you need to add the sync passphrase to the rest of your devices to continue syncing your data.
Chrome knows how to update automatically, but it’s best not to leave that to chance. Open the Chrome menu, point to Help, and select About Google Chrome to force install the latest updates.
3. Clean the computer
Chrome comes with a built-in harmful software removal tool. It is better to use it to get rid of malicious extensions and background apps. You should run the utility once a week or a month as a preventative measure.
Go to Chrome settings, expand the Advanced section, select System, and then select Clean up computer. On the screen that follows, select Scan and the utility will automatically detect and remove all forms of harmful software that it detects.
4. Switch to enhanced protection
Chrome uses a safe browsing service that actively alerts you to malicious websites, downloads, and browser extensions. It is available in two protection settings: standard and enhanced.
By default, Chrome uses the Standard protection setting. You can switch to the Enhanced Protection setting for a proactive security experience.
Go to Chrome Settings> Privacy & Security> Security and select the radio button next to Enhanced Protection. The setting ends up transmitting your browsing data to Google on a regular basis, so you can ignore this if you find it of concern.
5. Use a content blocker
Malicious websites and deceptive advertisements can trick you into infecting your computer. Although they appear as a user-friendly pop-up window, they can also phish your system for personal information.
Chrome’s Safe Browsing helps by blocking potentially dangerous pop-ups. But it is better to leave nothing to chance. That’s why installing a content blocker like uBlock Origin, Adblock Plus or AdGuard AdBlocker can help you.
These browser extensions use known tracker filter lists and malicious URLs to prevent unwanted content from loading. Best of all, they also help speed things up by blocking resource-hungry scripts and ads.
Note: If you decide to use a content blocker, remember to whitelist the websites you support, as ads help them.
Also on Guiding Tech
6. Use Guest / Incognito mode
If you’re using Chrome on a shared device, it’s best to avoid using normal Chrome windows, especially if you plan to use your Google Account to sign in and access Google services.
Instead, try using a guest or incognito window. These windows do not store your data and automatically delete it all each time you exit the windows.
Here’s how to open them:
Guest mode – Select the profile icon in the upper right corner of the Chrome window and select Guest.
Private browsing mode – Open the Chrome menu and select New incognito window.
7. Logout of the browser
If you’re signing in to a Google app or web service while using a normal Chrome window, don’t forget to sign out. Otherwise, anyone can access your Google account and view personal information, including credit card information and saved passwords. To do this, open any Google service, select your profile portrait, and then select Sign out.
In addition, you should also check if you signed in at the browser level and delete any browsing data that you may have synced locally.
Start by heading to the Settings pane. If your Google account details appear under the You and Google section, click the Deactivate button next to it. Then check the box next to “Erase favorites, history, passwords and more from this device” and select Disable again.
8. Carry out the safety check
Did you know that Chrome comes with a built-in tool that lets you run a basic security check? Go to Chrome settings, scroll down to the Security check section and click on the Security check button.
The security checker then checks to see if Chrome is up to date, cross-checks for password breaches, confirms that Safe Browsing is up to date, and that no malicious extensions are installed. Run it from time to time.
9. Use a VPN
A VPN, or virtual private network, encrypts web traffic and helps secure your browsing activity, especially if you regularly use public Wi-Fi connections.
However, you will have to pay for a solid VPN service as the free options could do more harm than good.
Marvel at notifications from Google Chrome? Here is why it is happening.
Last updated 23 Nov 2020
The above article may contain affiliate links that help support Guiding Tech. However, this does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains impartial and authentic.