Opera is the least well known of the major browsers, at least here in the United States. In Europe, Opera is well known and is one of the most popular browsers available. Overall the popularity of Opera is increasing and a version is soon to be released for Linux.
In some ways, Opera is not as insecure as Netscape or Internet Explorer, but it still has some openings that we will take care of. Opera does not come with Java, and that by itself takes care of some of the major issues. Like Netscape, it does not have the worries of ActiveX.
Let’s take a look at what we need to do with Opera. Go to Preferences and select Advanced. Here, under the Logging section are options for cookies and referrers. We want to make sure that the box next to Enable referrer is unchecked, and I recommend unchecking the box next to Enable Cookies.
Next, go to the Cache section and place a check next to the box that says Empty on exit, so that browser cache will be cleared when we exit Opera.
Now, lets go to the Security section. Make sure that there are check marks next to Enable SSL v2, SSL v3, and TLS 1.0. Next, in the section Show an Alert Before:, you will need to decide if you want an alert before Submitting a Form Insecurely. That is pretty much a personal decision.
If you are still using cookies or want to get rid of cookies you had previously, you can edit the cookies.dat file in the Opera directory. The easiest way to do this is to download a free utility called Opera File Explorer from the designer’s site: http://www.westelcom.com/users/jsegur/ which will allow you to edit the cookies.dat file easily and quickly.
With these few steps, you have now made Opera a more secure way to browse the Web.
One thing that will affect any web browser you choose is the encryption level. All three browsers are available with 128-bit encryption, and you should make sure that your browser has this option if available to you. Recently, the US Government has allowed export of the 128-bit versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape to most countries. In addition, since Opera was not made in the US, it is able to offer 128-bit encryption to the world.
Hopefully, you have followed most or at least some of the advice offered in this article, and in doing so you have made your Web browser more secure and have made your stay on the Internet more secure and private. It is unfortunate that we are forced into choosing between increasing our safety, or reducing the accessibility of some Internet content, but that is the way it is. Will this ever change? Probably not anytime soon, as it seems that the bad guys are always one step ahead, and security holes mostly seem to be discovered and patched only after somebody exploited it. In the meantime, use common sense and caution.
– zenwolf –