When you use the wrong browser, companies can track your Internet activity. This allows them to discover what you like or dislike, how old you are, how much time you spend online and more. But it’s not just your privacy and personal data that’s at stake here: a security breach that compromises your passwords, sensitive information or even your bank details is more common than you might think. Fortunately, there are ways to surf the Internet relatively safely. For example, using a privacy-oriented browser will help you be a lot safer online. Which browser you can use best, you can read in this article.
What happens when you use the wrong browser?
You run quite a risk when you use the wrong browser:
- your browsing history could be used by private companies;
- your login credentials for various websites can be lost in the event of an intrusion;
- you may inadvertently navigate to malware-infected websites;
- But it’s not just about the greed of big technology companies and eCommerce websites: intrusions can happen at any time and anywhere on the Internet. Any data stored in your browser can become accessible to hackers. This, of course, puts passwords, bookmarked websites, personal information and corporate data at risk. Chrome, the most popular browser, even had a break-in on their extension platform Web Store a while ago.
- Privacy and security provide the biggest headaches when you use the Internet, and using the wrong browser can just get you into trouble. But, don’t worry! We’ve put together a list to help you choose the best browser for your privacy needs.
Tip: Want to protect your privacy online to the fullest? Then use a good quality VPN to protect your internet connection and encrypt data. A good and relatively cheap option is Surfshark.
The best browsers for your online privacy – Top 5
Before we introduce the best browsers for online privacy, it’s important to first explain what exactly we take into account when choosing a suitable browser.
- First of all, many privacy issues can be solved by selecting the right settings: this can even make using Google Chrome safer. Go to Settings > Privacy and security, and deactivate some of the tracking.
- In addition, we also take into account the possibility of anonymity. Some browsers allow you to select the incognito mode which creates a navigation window that gives you more privacy and security. This allows you, for example, to start a browser session without cookies being stored.
- We also took a good look at the encryption possibilities. Browser-based encryption encodes your data with ééone or more layers of protection when you use the Internet. The more encryption, the better.
Finally, we also keep an eye on additional details, such as the browser’s history protection. Have there been intrusions on the history of a specific browser in the past? Then chances are you won’t find that browser in this list. Remember, a secure browser is just a start. Much more is needed to surf the Internet anonymously.
1. Tor Browser
The Tor browser uses NoScript to hide past activity from the websites you visit. It sends your internet traffic through the Tor network, which guarantees a high degree of anonymity, and it encrypts all your data in three different layers of encryption. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Tor.
|Tor hides your online identity, preferences and any kind of personal data by directing your internet traffic through at least three different nodes in the Tor network. Your data is encrypted on every Tor node (server) you go through. This makes you incredibly anonymous on the internet – unless you enter your data somewhere yourself, of course.||Your connection can slow down considerably when using Tor. Unless you’re working with a lot of bandwidth, the traffic diversions and triple encryption will slow down your internet. This means that you can browse Reddit with Tor, for example, but you’d better use another browser from the list to stream a movie.|
|Tor doesn’t just remember to log your internet activity: it even deletes all cookies you have installed after each session.||Since Tor allows you to roam the dark web freely, it will not prevent you from visiting malicious websites. This includes malware-infected sites, which pose significant privacy and security risks.|
|Tor’s three-layer encryption provides an additional safety net to prevent large corporations or hackers from stealing your data. Add a VPN to that and you are digitally invisible.|
Brave was founded in 2016 and is a good option for both private & eacute; as safe to browse. It has all the tools to keep your internet usage private. but, on the other hand, is not 100% user-friendly. There are some downsides to using Brave, but overall it’s a solid choice. We’ve listed some of Brave’s pros and cons for you.
|Brave has its own adblocker. A good start, but this ad blocker does nothing to keep your data safe. However, this adblocker can prevent marketers from tracking your online behavior.||In April 2019, Brave launched its own advertising program, which is actually quite confusing for users. On the one hand, it blocks third-party ads, but on the other, it shows its own ads, which are less personalized and owe no commission to the creators of the content you consume.|
|Brave is intuitive to use and has a clean interface. Brave lets you customize your web browser in all sorts of ways.||Brave is fast, but not as fast as Chromium or Safari.|
|In 2018, Brave switched to a Chromium-based infrastructure, making the transition from Chrome to Brave nóg easier. We’ll tell you more about Chromium later.||Brave launched its own cryptocurrency: the BAT (Basic Attention Token). BAT was intended to allow users of the browser to pay publishers anonymously for the content used, including cashback options. A few organizations are said to monopolize the currency, but this has not yet been confirmed. Although the idea seems interesting, we don’t really recommend using BAT yet.|
|Brave has some solid security features, including the ability to secure unsafe websites with HTTPS.|
|Brave can block fingerprinting attempts and prevent the loading of unsafe scripts.|
|Brave is open source and loads pages pretty fast.|
In general, Brave is very safe. It works on a privacy-friendly framework and has all the tools you need to secure your internet use.
3. Mozilla Firefox
Without encryption at the Tor browser level, basically any browser is at great risk, even when the developers are very careful about your privacy. Backdoors are constantly being found and new breakthroughs can happen at any time. It is for this reason that secure browsers, such as Mozilla, have regular patches and updates.
|The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit organization, so it has no incentive to sell your personal information.||For some people, Firefox’s many customizations can be confusing. You may not always be aware of what each setting means for your browsing experience.|
|The security measures of Firefox consist of hiding your location, blocking tracking and defending against advertisers seeking to obtain your personal information. You can also relatively easily disable WebRTC and WebGL functions in Firefox.||Firefox has a huge need for RAM. If you’re using an older computer, Brave might be a better choice.With certain AddOns you can make Firefox a faster and more economical browser, but that is not present in the standard version.|
|The “private mode” Firefox removes any information you enter as soon as you log out.||Firefox has some compatibility issues, especially with the CSS parts of a website. Fortunately, there are also many active developers who are constantly solving these problems. Anyway, install the best privacy add-ons for Mozilla.|
|Firefox rewards programmers who find a backdoor in their system and notify them. Firefox then fixes these backdoors pretty quickly.|
|Since Mozilla is an open source platform, it is a very transparent browser. If Mozilla changes something in the code that compromises your privacy, people will find out in no time.|
Be careful when using Firefox. They don’t share personal data unless you give them permission to do so. You do have to take many security measures before you can use the browser properly. You can do this by clicking on the shield next to a link, and then selecting ‘manage security settings’. A screen with various security options will then appear. You have the option here to select the security options of your choice. In any case, make sure you:
- Blocks dangerous and misleading content;
- RequestOCSP responder servers to confirm the validity of certificates;
- Cookies and site data automatically deleted when Firefox is closed;
- Websites always send a “Do Not Track”signal to indicate that you do not want to be tracked.
These options are all available on the “Manage Security Settings” tab.
Safari is Apple’s default browser, although many people immediately download Chrome after buying a new Mac. In accordance with Apple’s development philosophy, Safari can ensure that a virus or malicious link does not directly affect your entire system. In addition, Safari comes with a few decent security measures.
|Safari doesn’t let malware spread to your connection or browser and keeps your data safe should you click on a wrong link.||Safari rarely has updates. On the one hand, this is a big risk in case of intrusion – and for any other platform, this would be a big problem. On the other hand, given the density of Apple’s software, this shouldn’t be a problem.|
|Safari does not load suspicious sites and notifies you of potential danger.||Safari, when it comes to privacy and security settings, is not personalizable to the same extent as other browsers. Some extensions, on the other hand, can solve this problem.|
|Safari has launched a tracking prevention feature that prevents advertisers from using your information. The feature helps you remain anonymous while browsing by hiding your digital fingerprint||As with any other major technology company, there is no doubt that data breaches occur. Since Safari is not open-source, outsiders cannot verify those claims.|
|Safari has many security extensions. They have an easy bookmark feature. You also get the benefits of iCloud without having to worry about sharing your data with Google.|
Safari is a better choice than Chrome, but would not immediately be the ideal first choice: or at least not without some security-enhancing browser extensions. If Safari is still your choice, be sure to read our article on the best browser extensions for online privacy and security.
Chrome is not exactly the most secure or personal browser choice. But Google Chrome loads quickly, has many useful extensions, and has a very nice design. Chromium has all the good parts of Google Chrome, but without the security issues and personal data breach.
|Like Mozilla, Chromium is frequently patched and updated, but on the other hand, it doesn’t consume as much RAM.||Chromium is sort of a shell of the fully fleshed out browser you’re used to (Google Chrome). It lacks codecs and a decent flash player. This means you can’t play video’s and view pdf files unless you roll up your sleeves and install this software yourself.|
|Chromium does not send any data to Google and is open-source. This means that there is an entire community that can discover any security problems and develop innovative software.||WebRTC and WebGL features are harder to turn off than in some other browsers like Brave and Firefox.|
|Because the interface looks so much like Chrome and compatibility with extensions is not a problem, the switch to a less curious browser than Chrome is easily made.|
The biggest drawback of Chromium is also immediately the reason why it is not as’a great browser as other options on this list. Chromium can be compared to Google Chrome, but with more privacy and less usability. Browsers like Brave and Firefox are also secure, but don’t sacrifice as much usability as Chromium does.
Bonus browser for your smartphone: DuckDuckGo Mobile
DuckDuckGo Mobile removes trackers, blocks ads, forces HTTPS connections when it can, and rates websites based on their security. This mobile browser can delete your browsing data automatically, or you can delete it yourself by clicking the flame at the bottom of the browser. DuckDuckGo Mobile is a great choice for your mobile Internet use.
Browsers to avoid
While some options are better than others, most of the browsers you came across in our list are a good choice. With the exception of some doubts about Safari, you should generally be able to use the Internet safely. Of course, in addition to browsers you can use, there are also some browsers you’re better off avoiding if you value your online privacy.
|BROWSER||why this one is NOT SUPPOSED FOR YOUR PRIVACY|
|Google Chrome||Before we made the switch to the Tor browser, Google had already stored over 150 unique interests about us. Google actually tracks everything you do online. You can of course optimize Chrome to make your internet use a little safer (delete your cookies, for example), but it is absolutely not a privacy-oriented browser. During a court case Google was even accused of sharing data collected in incognito mode – not the best browser when it comes to privacy.|
|Microsoft Edge||We didn’t quite know what to say about Microsoft Edge. On the one hand, it has almost the same security options as Safari (minus Apple’s hermetic software), but on the other hand, Microsoft Edge is not very careful with your data. We therefore do not recommend using Edge. Moreover, last year a vulnerability was exposed that showed that their security measures are far from being first-class.|
|Opera||Opera has the potential to be a secure, privacy-oriented browser. You can set incognito mode as the default and have many options to customize security. The browser even has its own ‘VPN’. Still, you have to remain cautious. Opera VPN namely, it records your data, which not only makes the VPN useless, but also creates privacy issues. In addition, Opera is owned by a Chinese organization, a country known for its disregard towards privacy issues. Plenty of reasons to choose a different browser, then.|
What is the most secure browser?
The most secure browser is without a doubt Tor. This browser has three-layer encryption, a well-oiled network to route your connection, and all the privacy adjustments you could want – most of which are enabled by default. Do keep in mind that without a strong internet connection, the Tor browser may not work for ál your online needs. We therefore recommend the Tor browser in combination with Brave or Firefox. This way you’ll also have a good option for when you want to stream something or your bandwidth isn’t good enough. Don’t forget that a good browser is not enough to protect your privacy. You’ll have to do more to stay safe on the internet.
Using browsers safely
If you want to stay safe online and protect your privacy, it requires some effort at first. Fortunately, this gets easier with time. When it comes to browsers, the best steps to take are as follows:
- Use an adblocker
- Delete your data, cache, and history at the end of the day.
- Prefer to sites with HTTPS connections and SSL certificates. If a site does not have this, do not enter sensitive information.
- Start the chosen browser in incognito or privémode.
- Use a secure search engine such as DuckDuckGo. Make this the default search engine of your browser.
- Use a VPN to stay anonymous online. If you’re not sure where to start, read our article on the five best VPN’s of 2022.