Google Chrome is safe, but here’s how to make it even safer


If I was a gambler, I guess you use Google Chrome. It is by far the most popular browser in the world. Not my choice if you are looking for the most privacy. Browse my list of browsers ranked by privacy.

After all, Google probably knows every website you visit, where you go, what you buy online, who you communicate with, and more. Tap or click here for eight ways Google invades your privacy.

That said, Chrome is a solid browser. There are ways to make it even better.

First of all

Before entering Settings, take some time to make sure Chrome is up to date. This happens automatically when you close and reopen the program, but it’s worth checking every once in a while.

• Open Chrome, then press the three vertical dots to the right of your profile icon.

• In the drop-down menu, hover over To help and select About Google Chrome.

• If an update is available, it will start. Click on Revive to finish.

More Google smarts:10 Google Search Tips to Help You Find What You’re Looking For

1. Make your account harder to crack

Your Chrome profile is linked to your Google account. Two-step verification (or two-factor authentication) adds an extra layer of security to your account.

Once set up, you’ll sign in to your Google Account in two steps: something you know (your password) and something you own (like your phone). Remember that this is only necessary when logging in with a new device.

Here’s how to set it up for Google:

• Go to myaccount.google.com.

• Select Security from the left panel.

• Under Sign in to Google, select Two-step verification, then Get started.

• Follow the on-screen steps.

Prevention is better than cure :Hackers want Google accounts. Give yours this security check now!

2. Run Chrome Security Check Tool

Chrome Security Check scans your account for compromised passwords and available updates. It also enables Safe Browsing, a setting that identifies dangerous websites and warns you of potential harm.

You can run a security check at any time:

• Open Chrome, then press the three vertical dots to the right of your profile icon.

• Select Settings > Privacy and Security of the left panel.

• Under Security Check, select Check now.

• Select the item and follow the on-screen instructions. Chrome will check for updates, compromised passwords, harmful extensions, etc.

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3. Extensions can put you at risk

Extensions allow you to add powerful functionality to your browser. Think coupon search tools, grammar checkers, and screen capture tools. But not all extensions are useful. Some follow you around the Internet, hog your bandwidth, or even infect your computer with malware.

It’s not just unknown downloads either. Five extensions with 1.4 million downloads have recently been spotted hiding malware. Tap or click the listing to see if you have one installed.

Not sure what’s safe? Chrome awards a “Featured” badge to extensions that follow Google’s “technical best practices” and meet a high standard of user experience and design.

It’s also useful to search the web for phrases like “Is (the extension you’re using) safe to use?”

Here’s how to remove an extension from Chrome:

• Open Chrome, then press the three vertical dots to the right of your profile icon.

• Hover over More tools and select Extensions.

• Click on Remove on the extension you want to remove, then click Remove Again.

4. Enable HTTPS-First mode

Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or HTTP, is used to load pages using hyperlinks. Websites that use HTTP are not secure. This is why you should stick to sites that start with HTTPS. (The extra “S” stands for secure.) This encrypts the content of a website.

Chrome’s HTTPS-First mode attempts to load all sites over HTTPS and displays a warning before visiting a site that does not support it. Here’s how to activate it:

• Open Chrome, then press the three vertical dots to the right of your profile icon.

• Select Settings > Privacy and Securitythen Security.

• In the Advanced section, slide the toggle next to Always use secure connections to the right (on) to activate it.

Speaking of security, I hear all the time from people who have fallen for an online scam. It sucks, but it happens. Here are three steps to take if this happens to you.

5. Be Careful With Incognito Mode

No, Incognito mode does not make everything you do private. It has a few uses, but let’s be clear. Incognito mode does not hide your activity from the websites you visit. You can still be tracked, your ISP can still see what you’re doing, and your data can still be shared with third parties.

So what does it do? When you browse the web in incognito mode, your browser does not save your browsing history, cookies, site data, or information you enter into forms. However, it retains all downloaded files or bookmarks created during the session.

There are a few things I think Incognito is particularly good at: shopping, keeping embarrassing searches out of your history, and separating home and work.

Tap or click for my tips for using Incognito to its best.

Keep your technological know-how

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today”. It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from across the country. Look for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, click the link below for a recent episode.

PODCAST CHOICE:Amazon police plans, flying taxis, robot manicures

Get a $10 manicure from a robot, change that secret Google Maps setting, and watch out for flying taxis. Additionally, Amazon is testing police stations as package pickup points, work-from-home jobs that pay $20/hour, and YouTube will allow creators to offer paid video courses next year.

Check out my “Kim Komando Today” podcast on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando”.

Discover all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For his daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit his website at Komando.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

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