When you browse the internet, the first thing you need is a web browser.
This is where you type in the web address and visit the website you want to go to. Most of the things you need to do or access online is done through the web browser -- online banking, shopping, paying bills, signing up for services, booking hotels, checking emails, posting on social media, publishing blogs, sending out messages, and your day-to-day internet surfing activities. So when you think of all the information you've entered on your web browser, it is more than enough to create a detailed online profile of you.
What's dangerous is when this information gets in the hands of advertisers, organizations, or cybercriminals. The least you need to worry is being bombarded with ads. If you're unlucky, you'll have your personal data stolen and become a victim of identity theft. In any case, you must not let your data fall into the hands of these people. But how do you protect your data when using the internet?
There are several ways to ensure your privacy when using the internet, such as using a VPN, tweaking your security settings, and the most basic of all, by using a secure browser. While browsers can’t completely protect you from every trap, there are some that work better at helping you keep your anonymity and surf the web privately.
This guide will list down the best 10 web browsers to use to protect your online privacy. Let’s take a look at these secure browsers one by one:
Brave's wide selection of privacy and security features makes it one of the best browsers for private browsing. But among these features, there are a few that are worth highlighting, including:
- Automatic HTTPS connection upgrades
- Ability to block ads and scripts
- Cookie management
- Native password manager
Brave also offers several options for you to customize your browser's security settings. You can choose to customize it on a per-site or browser-wide basis. If you want to see exactly how Brave actively blocks unwanted content and trackers, you can simply access the blocking statistics on the New Tab page.
Even if you do not want to customize your settings, Brave's default security configurations are still worth using because the browser automatically blocks threats, like phishing and malware.
For users who prefer to personally manage their web browser’s privacy and security configurations, Mozilla Firefox is a great choice. Mozilla puts heavy emphasis on its default settings and its ability to provide strong privacy protection the moment the browser is installed. However, users can still customize a number of important privacy and security settings, including features like blocking cookies and third-party trackers. You also have the freedom to set the level of security that you want.
If you really want complete security, you can choose the Strict option that blocks all the trackers detected by the browser. Or you can choose to use the Standard option, allowing you to enjoy the best of both worlds. This mode is a balance between better performance and tracker blocking. What's more, Firefox’s tracking protections are switched on by default even when you are using the Private Browsing Mode, so you don't need to worry about turning on these features whenever you use the browser.
If you want a browser that focuses on everything about security, the Tor Browser might be the best browser for you. Tor takes into consideration your security issues down to the smallest detail. It is so dedicated that even when you click to maximize your browser window, the Tor Browser will notify you that doing this will leave you vulnerable to having your computer’s screen size tracked. It will then recommend that you change the screen back to its smaller or default window size.
Tor’s array of security measures allow users to browse with a peace of mind. Some of these security options include the automatic deletion of browser history and cookies after browsing, the strict blocking of third-party trackers, and multiple layers of protection in the form of encryption for your web traffic as it goes through the Tor network.
Apple claims that its default browser, Safari, is the best browser for your Mac. This may very well be the case when it comes to security and privacy features. Safari uses machine learning and AI technology to prevent third-parties from tracking your personal data, including your search and browsing history. Safari does this by utilizing machine learning algorithms to single out advertisers and detect other trackers, then eventually deleting their cross-site tracking data.
Safari also provides several other helpful security features, including:
- Sandboxing - This feature provides warnings for unsafe websites.
- Private Browsing - This mode includes DuckDuckGo as its default search engine for anonymous browsing.
- Auto-generation of strong passwords - Passwords can automatically be generated, auto-filled, and saved for all of your Apple devices.
Safari is also equipped with iCloud Keychain, an optional feature that enables users to store and autofill sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, email addresses, physical address, phone number, credit card information, and social media account logins. You can access these passwords on any given device you have approved of. The great thing about iCloud Keychain is that it is protected by end-to-end encryption to keep your sensitive data private. This encryption does not even allow iOS and macOS to have access to it.
5. Microsoft Edge
Despite being the default browser of Windows computers, you can still download the latest version of Microsoft Edge on other platforms, such as MacOS, iOS, and Android. This means that the new Microsoft Edge browser can be considered a great alternative to popular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. Plus, this latest version of the Microsoft Edge browser provides several customizable privacy options that work the same as Firefox. Like Mozilla Firefox, you can select from three tracking protection options to set your level of privacy: Basic, Balanced, or Strict. You can also configure site permissions like location requests, cookies, and ads.
The new version of Microsoft Edge is also equipped with a feature called Microsoft Defender SmartScreen, which is enabled by default. This feature helps protect your device from phishing attacks and from malicious files downloaded to your computer. SmartScreen will pop up a warning if the site you are trying to visit is not safe.
6. Epic Privacy
The Epic browser was specifically designed for security purposes. Created by Hidden Reflex, this Chromium-based web browser can help improve your internet security, even without using the incognito mode or installing a VPN.
The basic principle behind this browser is that it deletes all browsing history and data as soon as it is closed. The Epic browser prevents any potential data leakage, blocks URL tracking modules, and provides notifications of possible errors or issues when browsing.
Aside from this, Epic protects the user's search query data by blocking various trackers, including scripts, cookies, agents, and others. The default privacy settings are also set to disable all potentially dangerous browser configurations, including saving of browsing history, passwords, and cache, synchronization with Google servers, autofill, and more. This browser also uses SLL connections and encrypts your data to mask your location and help you access blocked websites.
Opera was created by the same creator of the CSS web standard, Hakon Wium Lie, in 1995. Since then, the browser has adopted a majority of Chromium’s code into its software, making Opera one of the more popular privacy-oriented browsers today.
The most notable privacy feature of the Opera browser is its built-in ad blocker. It uses a tracker blocker that relies on data from the EasyPrivacy Tracking Protection List, a list designed to protect users from seeing ads they do not want to see and from being tracked by advertisers and malicious websites. Opera bases some part of its code on Chromium, an open-source project that can be scrutinized. Opera is also equipped with a free built-in VPN that it acquired in 2016.
The main features of the Chromium browser revolve around three factors, namely: speed, safety, and reliability. In terms of functions, it is quite similar to Google Chrome. Using Chromium is like using Google Chrome, minus the extra Google features.
Here are the various factors that set Chromium apart from Google Chrome:
- Chromium never send error reports, statistics, RLZ identifiers, or other information to Google or others
- Standard video and audio formats only are available
- It does not use Adobe Flash by default
- There is no automatic system update
Updating the Chromium browser might seem like a hassle for some users because you must either manually download the updates or use a third-party utility such as Chromium Updater to keep it updated, but this system allows the user to have more control over what version of Chromium they want to use.
The Chromium interface is also simple and easy to use. Even though Google Chrome and Chromium are almost the same, Chrome's Google features make it more convenient and efficient compared to Chromium. The only advantage of Chromium is its customization options.
9. Vivaldi Browser
Vivaldi is an internet browser designed by one of the former developers of the Opera software and it works based on a cursor of Blink (Google Chromium). It is considered one of the highly customizable alternatives to Chrome and Firefox for internet users.
The latest version of Vivaldi is now integrated with a blocklist powered by DuckDuckGo’s Tracker Radar. You can choose among three blocking levels that you can easily toggle on and off for every website. You can either block trackers, block trackers and ads, or disable blocking altogether. You can also use ad blocking extensions from Google Chrome to disable highly intrusive ads.
10. Google Chrome
Google Chrome was launched over a decade ago and it has completely evolved to be the undisputed leader in terms of browser market share, with almost 80%. Because of its reputation for convenience and speed, along with the prevalence of Google services in our lives, it is no surprise that Chrome has become the most popular web browser today.
In terms of security, Chrome's Incognito Mode is probably the most well-known feature. When using this mode, your browsing history, cookies and site data, and all information entered in forms will not be saved. Chrome also automatically scans for harmful downloads and websites.
Google also regularly releases updates to Chrome Every six to eight weeks, making sure that the users are always getting the latest browsing features. A portion of its code is also open-source, which enables users to scrutinize, as well as adopt, some parts of its code. Google has continuously encouraged hackers to discover vulnerabilities in Chrome so that the developers can improve its product.
Above all, Chrome boasts of an extensive collection of browser extensions, offering a range of additional functionalities.
The first step in ensuring your privacy is to use a web browser that will protect your data and not collect it for their own use. Although it might be difficult to find a browser that would protect you from all online threats, the browsers listed above are some of the best choices for privacy-concerned users.