Safe browsing

  • Objective(s): Provide an introduction to safe web browsing practices, including an overview of plug-ins and other utilities that can be used to create a safer browsing environment.
  • Length: 45 minutes
  • Format: Session
  • Skill level: Basic
  • Required knowledge:
    • None required
  • Related sessions/exercises:
  • Needed materials:
    • Slides (with key points included below)
    • Laptop/Computer and Projector setup
    • WiFi connection

Leading the Session

Part 1 - Choosing a Browser

  1. Begin the session by asking participants which web browsers they use and what other options they have heard of. Present Firefox - explain the benefits of using it, and discuss briefly the difference between it and other common browsers such as Google Chrome or Internet Explorer.

    Optional: If working with Spanish speaking women, you might also find this video from Ella useful to begin the conversation:

Part 2 – Safer Browsing Practices

  1. There are quite a few safer browsing practices to discuss that can be shared with participants – while you don’t need to cover every single one of them, it is recommended to share enough to give your participants options (also remember to keep your content contextualized by sharing practices most relevant to participant context).

  2. Explain to the group that you will be reviewing some safe browsing practices with them, but not yet focusing on specific tools other than the browsers themselves. Some participants might already be willing to change browsers, but others may not yet be – so before discussing more specific tools like browser plug-ins, it’s important to keep the discussion grounded first in practice.

    Here are some example practices you can discuss:

    • Being vigilant of phishing and spear phishing attempts;
    • Blocking embedded ads and pop-up ads;
    • How cookies work – be sure to talk about how convenient they can be, but that they also have downsides;
    • Disabling and erasing cookies from the browsers;
    • Deleting browsing history;
    • Not saving passwords in your browser settings;
    • Checking the extensions that you add to your browser;
    • Enabling the Do Not Track option in your browser;
    • Google search alternatives (such as Duck Duck Go)
    • Who implements online tracking and why? (Both and are good resources about this);
    • Discuss HTTP versus HTTPS;
    • What is a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and when should these be used?
    • What exactly does Incognito Mode do, and when should it be used?

Part 3 – Tools and Extensions for Safer Browsing

  1. Explain, now that you’ve addressed some basic practices for safer browsing, that you can also suggest certain tools – specifically browser plug-ins – which can help automate or otherwise facilitate adoption of some of these practices.

  2. Present the following tools, explaining how each of them works, and remember to also share the links to download them with participants. It is essential that participants understand why each of the tools shared is important and useful; if not explained clearly, it can lead to participants making ill-informed decisions about their privacy or anonymity online.

Desktop Browser Tools

Mobile Browser Tools

Other Practices & Features:

Incognito Mode (InPrivate Mode)

This is a feature that frequently causes confusion as it is not well understood - participants might not have a clear understanding of how Incognito mode works as a browser feature, and when it is useful. Explain how Incognito (and similar) modes work, and offer some examples of when they can actually be helpful features to take advantage of.

Safe Wi-Fi Practices

Finally, take some time to discuss, and if possible demonstrate, a few basic safe practices on for WiFi connections - this includes practices such as changing the default password of the modem, and showing participants how to monitor which devices are connected to their WiFi network.