How to increase browser security settings in Microsoft Edge

Unique options in Microsoft edge increase browser security

The internet has many threats to your security and it is a constant battle with hackers, malware, phishing and more. Use these security features in Microsoft Edge to increase browser security.

Although Google Chrome is the most used web browser on computers at around 65% of users, in some areas it lags behind other browsers in security features. It is not that it is particularly bad, but some alternatives to Chrome offer more security features and this means that you are safer on the web when using them. Is it time to ditch Chrome?

Security and privacy are not the same, but there is certainly a lot of overlap between them. You might want to read Web browser privacy on Android phone: Alternatives to Chrome. There are tips for increasing privacy when browsing the web on your phone and they also help by increasing security too. There is also the problem of security when using public Wi-Fi with a laptop computer or phone, read Is public Wi-Fi safe? Can public Wi-Fi be trusted? Should you use it?

Let’s see how to boost the security settings in Microsoft Edge and improve your safety on the internet. I will be using the Windows app for this, but Edge is also available on the Apple Mac and it has almost identical features.

Open Microsoft Edge security settings

Screenshot showing security and privacy in Microsoft Edge browser
Go to Privacy, search and services for Edge security settings

You can click the three dots in the top right corner to open the menu and click Settings followed by Privacy, search, and services in the sidebar on the left, or if you are an expert, you can type edge://settings/privacy into the address box. Scroll down past the privacy settings until you come to the Security section. Here is what it looks like.

Screenshot of the security settings in Microsoft Edge browser
Microsoft Edge security settings

There are a number of switches that enable or disable various security features and it is best to turn them all on. In fact, they should be on by default, so you probably just need to check that they have not been accidentally turned off. They do things like block potentially unwanted apps, enable safety services, enable Defender SmartScreen and so on.

Use alternative DNS to increase browser security

What is DNS? Put simply, it converts the domain names you enter into a browser, like wikipedia.org and turns it into an IP address, which is a unique set of numbers that uniquely identifies a website. All web browsers use DNS, but if you don’t specify DNS servers, the ISP’s is used, which may have no malware filtering and no special security features.

Down near the bottom of the security settings is Use secure DNS… and below it are two options, one to Use current service provider, and one to Choose a service provider.

The default is the DNS provided by the ISP, which depends on whether you are at home, at work or a public Wi-Fi hotspot. It always works and is completely automatic, but it is not the best option. It may have little or no security features.

Screenshot showing DNS options in Microsoft Edge browser
Choose a DNS service provider in Edge

Select Choose a service provider and a menu of alternatives is provided. Cloudflare 1.1.1.1 and CleanBrowsing family filters and OpenDNS all increase your security by filtering out malware. Select one of these and you are prevented from accidentally visiting known bad websites in Edge browser. CleanBrowsing is also family-friendly. Cloudflare and OpenDNS can do this if you visit them for instructions, but it’s mainly malware protection on this menu.

Google Public DNS is an option and it probably offers increased security over the default DNS, but then you have to wonder how private it is.

Use Microsoft Edge enhanced security

Edge has a unique feature that is designed to increase browser security and you will not see it in other browsers. Down at the bottom of the Security section of settings is Enhance your security on the web. There are two options, Balanced and Strict. Select the Balanced option, which offers extra security when needed, but gets out of the way when it is not.

Settings in Microsoft Edge to increase browser security
Increase browser security with this Edge setting

Enable the option to always use Strict enhanced security when browsing InPrivate. This is good way to visit websites you are not sure about.

When Balanced is enabled and you visit a website, Edge looks to see whether it is a common site that you visit a lot. If so, it works as it normally does. However, if you visit a website that you have not visited before, Edge applies extra security and blocks any threats.

You can see this if you visit a site you rarely or have never visited before. Here is an example and because I have rarely visted the www.ford.com website, you can see the Added Security notification at the left of the address box.

This website is safe of course, and clickiing Added security in the address box enables the Enhance security for this site switch to be turned off. The site is added as an exception.

If you accidentally visited a bad website with malware, phishing, or something similar, the added security would help to protect you. I would not expect it to 100% block everything bad on a malicious website, but it does increase browser security a little, making it harder for the malware to do damage.

There isn’t much information about how it works, but there is a little here, Browse more safely with Microsoft Edge. It’s worth a read.


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