A safe browser is the basic necessity and right of every online user in the digital age. The safest browser; however, must be like your home where you can do anything without the fear of anybody watching. However, the case is slightly different in reality. You are being continuously watched by;
- The websites you visit
- Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
- Government agencies
Unfortunately, these agents won’t stop out of ethical obligation as the invasion of privacy is extremely beneficial and profitable for them, and browsers are a gold mine of user information. You must digest the fact that browsers have been targeted in the past and they will be targeted in the future as well.
The solution remains in your hands – whether you are bothered enough to take action or you don’t care at all. Well, this guide is for people who like to take their online privacy and security in their own hands. We have compiled an in-depth discussion on the situation of popular browsers, the actual safest browsers, the add-ons and extensions, and some other tricks to improve the browsers’ privacy and security.
The Current Situation Of The Most Popular and Secure Browsers
There are plenty of browsers out there but most masses are stuck on one or two options. We are going to see how these so-called perfectly fine browsers perform in the privacy department. Are they worth your time or just minting personal information for advertising gain?
Google Chrome – A So-called Secure Web Browser
The first name has to be Google Chrome since Google products are widely used in the world. It gets full points in terms of security against outside invasion. However, the privacy area is as messed up as we expected.
The basic reason is, in hindsight, Google is a data collection machine. It runs its business by collecting info about users and ruling the advertising industry. For this very reason, we recommend finding alternatives to Google products, not just Chrome.
Internet Explorer/Edge – Opposite Of The Most Private Browser
Microsoft is another giant building its empire based on user information collected via different products including Windows and Internet Explorer/Edge. The same issue persists here as well. Again, we will advise users to quit Microsoft products and find better alternatives.
Another worth mentioning fact is Microsoft Internet Explorer and Edge are closed source browsers so no one can tell what’s going on inside.
Opera – Browser Privacy At Stake
A browser that has the audacity to say openly that it will share your personal data with third parties isn’t worth your time. Also, Opera is now owned by a large Chinese conglomerate and we don’t know the privacy status as per the Chinese rules and regulations.
Safari – Is It The Best Private Browser
Safari – the default browser for Apple users isn’t as bad as others. In terms of privacy, it scores good marks. However, we cannot trust it completely due to a number of reasons, which are;
Reason no. 1: Apple’s participation in the NSA PRISM program.
Reason no. 2: Even in anonymous mode, Apple collects browsing history.
Reason no. 3: Apple stole Safari’s browsing history, even after deletion by users.
In addition, we would like to mention that Apple’s Safari is better than Microsoft and Google. It applies cross-site tracking protection and automatically stops third-party cookies.
The Safest Browsers For Acing The Privacy Front
It is clear that popular browsers are just playing with your emotions. They are like the expensive brands that cash their names and fail to deliver quality. Of course, the famous browsers offer great in functionality but at the cost of your privacy. Your personal data is being sold to advertisers without your consent or knowledge. We don’t know if the trade-off is fair enough.
Thankfully, we have a few options that perform smoothly in terms of privacy. Those are;
Firefox – Secure Private Browser
- Open source code (audited by third-party)
- Telemetry data collection can be disabled
- Numerous extensions available
- Unmatchable privacy features and customization options
- Regular updates and development work
Firefox is a solid browser with foolproof privacy setup, customization, timely updates, and solid security. The development team is active and regularly works on improving the browsing experience for users. Firefox Quantum is the latest version of Firefox and it is fast and breezy with a ton of features.
However, Firefox can’t be used directly. You have to work on privacy features. First of all, disable telemetry as it collects “technical and interaction data”. We would like to mention that Firefox has been caught gathering telemetry data even when it is disabled. You can still alter Firefox’s privacy and security by using a number of extensions.
Waterfox – One Of The Browsers That Don’t Track
- Open source
- Based on Firefox 56 along with ESR security updates
- Compatible with older Firefox add-ons
- Lesser and slower security updates
- No telemetry data collection
Waterfox is a great alternative for people who want the Firefox touch minus the actual Mozilla Firefox. Of course, the only reason to avoid Firefox can be telemetry data collection. The only problem with Waterfox seems to be the lack of speedy updates. Firefox 56 is the basis of Waterfox so the older add-ons will work whereas some newer add-ons might create a problem.
Waterfox is developed by Alex Kontos. He is a pro in the online privacy industry and has removed all the tracking details and other glitches from Mozilla Firefox to create a much transparent Waterfox.
Brave – Most Secure Internet Browser
- In-built ad blocker
- Protection from browser fingerprinting
- HTTPS upgrading
- Cookie control
- Compatible with Chrome extensions
Chromium-based Brave is best for privacy with an in-built ad blocker. Brandon Eich is the mastermind behind Brave who used to work for Mozilla. The browser is safe, fast, secure, and is recommended by many privacy-savvy users.
There is a little flaw that we find disturbing, hence mentioning here. Brave is founded on the open-source code i.e. Chromium, which was developed for Google’s Chrome browser. The innate privacy mishaps were definitely taken care of in the Brave browser. However, Brave is still subjected to WebRTC leaks which have to be manually fixed, as shown below;
Pale Moon – Best Private Web Browser
- Open source
- Based on Firefox 38
- Supports older Firefox add-ons
- Telemetry has been removed
- Light and customizable
Pale Moon has been developed using the open-source Firefox code of Firefox 38. It will feel ancient in its look and feel. Many older Firefox add-ons can be used but it doesn’t support the latest ones.
Like Waterfox, Pale Moon has also removed the unwanted and privacy-invasive features of Mozilla Firefox. Pale Moon is only compatible with Linux and Windows.
Tor Browser – Useful But Questionable
Tor browser is a tougher version of normal browsers with features and updates that are unusual. It runs on the Tor network only. Tor browser is made to avoid privacy blunders such as browser fingerprinting. However, Tor has its fair share of disadvantages.
Tor browser is not the ideal alternative for people as it utilizes Tor network and the download speed is frustratingly low. Due to NoScript, it crashes many websites. The Tor network is notorious for speed issues, suspicious exit nodes, and other compromises.
If you are using Tor browser, it is recommended to do so with a quality VPN and Tor network disabled. However, the settings should be carefully changed as it may affect the fundamental security and privacy functionality.
How To Make Any Browser The Safest Browser
We believe there are many tweaks that you can do for improving the security of any browser Using add-ons and extensions available for different browsers in their respective marketplace.
We think the following add-ons/extensions can help you improve your security game. However, not every add-on will be compatible with your chosen privacy browser.
|uBlock Origin||It’s an ad- blocker and ensures protection against tracking.|
|Privacy Badger||It controls ads and trackers.|
|Cookie Autodelete||Deletes cookies that are not required anymore.|
|NoScript||It lets you decide which script runs on which website. It is strictly for advanced users.|
|uMatrix||It allows you to control the requests you receive on each website. Again, it’s for advanced users.|
|Decentraleyes||Stops tracking with the help of content delivery networks.|
|HTTPS Everywhere||It forces websites to use HTTPS only.|
CAUTION: Third party add-ons or extensions can be used as trackers and spyware. Before downloading any, make sure you are trusting the right software. This is especially true for browser proxies and free VPNs that are available as add-ons or extensions. Don’t just download anything, even if it is rated high or has an abundance of user appreciation in the comments.
Compartmentalization – A Smart Way To Fool The Private Browsers
People often stay logged in to their accounts on the browser. They like to sign in once and never sign out, mostly in case of the personal device. Also, they use the same browser for surfing purpose. This overlap allows many sites to track your identity and figure out your browsing pattern and history. Data mongers like Google and Facebook are popular for such matchmaking and making profits out of it.
One simple and smart solution seems to be browser compartmentalization. In simple words, you choose a browser for personal accounts and another one for surfing and other work. This way the browser will not be able to associate your identity with any browsing activity at all.
Different browsers can be used with customized configuration for improved privacy. However, it is important to remember compartmentalization works only when applied strictly. A mistake once or twice can blow your cover as browsers are smart enough to associate your identity with browsing activity after one attempt only.
Another point that we would like to mention is password managers. Many people save their passwords on the browsers without giving it a second thought. Well, it is not an ideal practice and you are compromising your privacy. A better alternative is KeePass or LessPass for secure password managing.
Conclusion – Most Secure Web Browser Is A Myth
We admit we have spent above space deciding the most secure web browser. However, the sad reality is that it’s a myth. The thing is browsers have too much information about a user. Data miners will find unique ways to penetrate the browser’s security layers in as many ways as possible. They will keep devising new solutions to somehow get in and access the personal info of users.
Fortunately, there are certain things in your hands as well. It is not one solution for all problems, rather a combined effort to ensure the privacy of your browser. We recommend using the best privacy browser (you can choose from our list), a solid VPN service, and a good ad-blocker.
In addition, browser fingerprinting and WebRTC leaks should be avoided at any cost as even a great VPN cannot protect you from those. Also, add-ons and extensions can help you add another layer to your safest browser.
Which browser do you use on daily basis – on desktop and mobile? Let us know in the comments section below.