IT Security Outsourced IT

Browser Security Threats

What are Browser Security Threats?

Due to the ubiquity of web browsers, it is easy to forget that they are application platforms that can be vulnerable to bugs and hacking, just like other application platforms. We trust web browsers with some highly sensitive personal data, such as our login credentials, browsing history, cookies, and more, but we don’t often consider what could happen if our web browsing/browsers was compromised. The following are some of the possible ways that your personal data could be compromised within your web browser:

Harvesting credentials. Credentials saved on a web browser that are paired with the bookmarks for those websites can easily provide a cyberattacker with all they need to get into one, or more, of your accounts. If the cyberattacker can get into your email account, they can reset the password to the email and many other websites that you access. Cyberattackers can do this remotely, if they have your credentials, or they could take screenshots to record the saved passwords. The Firefox browser lets you view those passwords quite easily from within the browser.

Autofill. Web browsers, such as Chrome, can save information such as your mailing address and credit card information, making it easier for you to fill out online forms. If a cyberattacker gains access to your browser or browser login credentials, they can use those cookies to get all of the information that they need to attack you.

History. Your browser history details everywhere you have been and everything that you have done online, as long as you have those features enabled. Cyberattackers can learn about your purchasing habits, behavioral patterns, location history, and devices used, and they can use that information to help them launch an attack against you.

Cache. The web browser cache stores sections of web pages for faster access and loading time on subsequent visits to those pages. Malware can be tailored to prey on cache data.

Vulnerabilities. Cyberattackers can exploit vulnerabilities in web browsers, just as they can in other applications. Researchers recently found that the Bing browser had a vulnerability that could have allowed for the functionality of the browser to be overtaken, search results modified, and for Office 365 credentials to be stolen from millions of users1.

Some tips to protect you from web browser threats:

  • Clear browser cache
  • Use incognito mode
  • Don’t save credentials in the browser
  • Disable and/or purge cookies
  • Use strong passwords
  • Do not re-use passwords
  • Enable two-factor authentication
  • Check in your browser to see what devices are logged in to your account
  • Analyze and update web browser security settings

1 Rashid, 2023, “Vulnerability Enabled Takeover, Search Result Manipulation”