How Do I Protect My Computer While Streaming Videos Online

Eric Goldstein
Eric Goldstein Chief Editor
Updated on: June 7, 2024
Fact Checked by Hazel Shaw
Eric Goldstein Eric Goldstein
Updated on: June 7, 2024 Chief Editor

Short on time? Here’s how to protect your computer while streaming videos online:

  • Use reliable antivirus software. Ensure your antivirus is up-to-date to protect against malware. Norton 360 is my favorite.
  • Choose a secure browser. Opt for browsers like Firefox or Chrome with strong security features and privacy controls.
  • Install security extensions. Use add-ons like Avast Online Security, HTTPS Everywhere, and uBlock Origin for enhanced protection.
  • Avoid risky websites. Stick to reputable streaming services and avoid free or illegal streaming sites.

If you stream videos online, you may have seen a few unpleasant popups, like NSFW ads for porn websites. Unfortunately, one wrong click can infect your computer with malware. Then a hacker can steal your passwords, credit card info, and other private information. Luckily, there are a number of ways to protect yourself and your computer when streaming videos online.

No matter where you stream content, strong antivirus software is a necessity (my favorite one is Norton). With so many different options to protect you, it’s important to understand the popular solutions, what they do, and how effective they are.

Try Norton 

Common Video Streaming Threats

The threats you’re up against when streaming video online include:

  • YouTube video description links and comments are common threats that encourage viewers to browse infected websites.
  • Sports streaming websites are notorious for harmful, intrusive ads. Worse, they can contain viruses as well as affect your viewing experience.
  • Phishing scams target users of popular websites like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.
  • Free movie websites are not only illegal, but they also display ads for websites that will infect your computer with malware.
  • Popups on Netflix are a sign that your browser or computer is already infected.

Choosing a Browser

Before selecting a streaming service, it’s important to select the appropriate browser to optimize performance without sacrificing security. For many users, browser selection is simply a decision between Firefox and Chrome; however, there are other great options to consider.

In the table below, I’ve listed some of the most popular browsers and their pros and cons:

Browser Pros Cons
Mozilla Firefox ✅ Fast, strong privacy features like password-free login and automatic ad blocking; frequent updates ❌ Requires a lot of RAM
Google Chrome ✅ Fast performance; vast marketplace of extensions ❌ Requires a lot of RAM; will collect your information
Opera ✅ Built-in ad blocker; Turbo mode is reliable for users with slower internet connections ❌ Limited selection of plugins
Microsoft Edge ✅ Fast performance, doesn’t use a lot of RAM; reading mode is a plus; reasonable security ❌ Will collect your browsing data
Tor Browser ✅ Best browser for privacy; doesn’t allow tracking cookies through ❌ Very slow load times

When streaming video content, you need a browser with superior video feedback. However, each choice comes with its own set of tradeoffs. Selecting a browser like Microsoft Edge will limit you to the few extensions that are built for the browser. On the other hand, a more popular browser like Chrome or Firefox includes numerous add-ons and extensions.

Firefox or Chrome?

Google Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox are two of the most popular browsers and offer the most protection for users. Add-ons and extensions provide another layer of security when browsing on either Chrome or Firefox, making them both suitable options when selecting a (safe) browser to stream videos with.

The decision between these two impressive browsers ultimately comes down to the power and speed of the device you are browsing on. While Chrome is the superior software, its appetite for RAM and processing power makes it a luxurious choice for users browsing on a more humble setup.

If privacy is your main concern, Firefox may offer a superior solution. Mozilla is a non-profit, meaning it doesn’t have the same incentive to sell your browsing data and information to other parties. Firefox also provides automatic blocking of ad trackers, a function that is highly valuable in an era of omnipresent advertisement.

Increasing Security With Chrome Extensions

Today, there are thousands of add-ons and extensions to provide users with even more functionality. For streaming video, here are some of the most effective security extensions:

Norton Safe Web

Of all the browser add-ons available, Norton Safe Web helps protect users regardless of which websites they visit. Norton Safe Web leverages the Norton Community Watch network, which consists of millions of endpoints that automatically submit suspicious URLs for analysis, allowing Norton Safe Web to quickly identify and block newly infected sites.

One of the key features of Norton Safe Web is Link Guard, which scans website links before you click on them. It checks the safety rating of the linked website and provides visual indicators (green, yellow, or red) to warn you about potential risks.

The extension is free and available for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari.

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PIA MACE is a feature of Private Internet Access (PIA) that enhances online security by blocking ads, trackers, and malicious websites. It’s integrated into PIA’s Chrome and Opera extensions.

PIA MACE filters out requests to domains known for serving ads and malware, which helps in speeding up page load times and protecting you from online threats. It reliably blocks various forms of advertisements, including pop-ups and banners, and prevents access to known malicious sites.

​Unlike many standalone ad blockers, PIA MACE does not require extensive configuration — users simply turn it on to enjoy an ad-free browsing or streaming experience.


Ever tried to stream a video, only to chase a collection of pop-ups that move each time you click the ‘X’? The NoScript extension blocks unwanted executables like JavaScript, Java, and Flash, allowing only whitelisted websites to run these commands. The result is a streamlined browsing experience that lets users choose to run them or unwanted programs from running in the background.


Platforms like YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Video are typically safe, but these and other companies such as Facebook and Google do collect user data. The tool Disconnect helps users sidestep the tracking that comes with it.

Editors' Note: Private Internet Access and this site are in the same ownership group.

Improving Your Browser Safety With an Antivirus

You need to have a suitable antivirus suite to protect you while video streaming. Even if you only use reputable streaming websites, the added protection will keep you safe from potential threats.

Norton 360 is our #1 internet security package, as it comes with comprehensive web protection.

Bitdefender, too, includes great features like the Anti-Tracker browser extension, a dedicated webcam filter, browser confidentiality, blocking of unsecure websites, a password manager, and a tool that stops unwanted extensions from installing themselves.

If you use either of these two antivirus programs, you should have no issues streaming your favorite video content online.

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About the Author
Eric Goldstein
Eric Goldstein
Chief Editor
Updated on: June 7, 2024

About the Author

Eric Goldstein is Chief Editor at SafetyDetectives. As an internet security researcher and IT journalist, he has over 3 years of experience writing and editing articles and blog posts about VPNs, parental controls, and other cybsersecurity products and tools. In addition, Eric writes and edits news stories focused on cybersecurity issues for SafetyDetectives. He also spent 20+ years as a sportswriter for multiple media outlets and served in a communications role for a national corporation. When he's not working, he can be found spending time with his family, working out, and watching his favorite sports teams.

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