Looking for a new, safer browser? Here are our top picks
There’s no need to reiterate that the internet isn’t a safe place. But the browser a person uses can have a big impact on just how dangerous their online excursions are. Have a look at these top 4 browsers that put safety and security first.
The purpose of this list isn’t to convince anyone on any specific browser, but to introduce a few different options. No one browser is going to be perfect for everyone, so instead, here’s a breakdown of the best safe browsers out there.
Safety Concerns With Regular Browsers
Regular web browsers like Opera, Chrome, and Edge pose significant security risks. They all collect broad amounts of personal user data that they can sell or share with third-parties. That data can also be compromised by outsiders with bad intentions.
Most of these browsers have adjustable privacy settings. But they’re basically decoration at this point and go pretty much ignored by major third-parties like Facebook. Plus, even with every privacy setting turned on, the browser may still collect and store data. They can share that data if they want to – and some, like Microsoft, have handed information over to the NSA.
Using “incognito” or “private” mode doesn’t help either. Some browsers, like Edge, still seem to store data in private mode. Others, like Chrome’s incognito mode, don’t protect users as much as they think it does.
What Type of Info do Browsers Collect?
It’s safe to say that browsers collect pretty much everything a person does online. Here’s a summary of the data browsers gather:
- Browsing history
- Autofill information
- Login credentials
Plenty of people commonly type “how to hide my IP” into their search engines in a bid to protect their data, because most of the information a browser or website collects is connected to a device or network’s IP address. However, hiding an IP address isn’t enough, since browser fingerprinting is a thing too.
The Best Privacy-Oriented Browsers
1. Tor Browser
The Tor browser is a secure version of Firefox that was created to run on the Tor network via onion routing. What makes onion routing so special is that it runs the connection through three different relays. This method of routing prevents spying because it hides a person’s IP by masking it with relays located all over the world.
When using Tor, it’s like having a browser that’s permanently set to private mode. It uses HTTPS Everywhere and NoScript to make sure that the connection stays safe and private. However, there are some drawbacks:
- Tor users generally experience slower browsing speeds due to the way onion routing works.
- Some websites may not work correctly, or at all, because the browser blocks certain tracking scripts.
2. Firefox (Modified)
Firefox may be one of the more commercial browsers in this list, but it’s leagues ahead of others in its class. The browser features advanced protection features and does not track users’ browsing for targeted advertising purposes. It’s also one of the few browsers out there that protects users against browser fingerprinting.
Some of the browser’s settings are now enabled by default, but there are some that need to be activated manually. Firefox also supports a host of official security extensions that can bump browser privacy up to a new level.
Brave is based on the open-source Chromium – with all the privacy-abusing bits left out. At least to an extent. It’s a decent option for people who want more privacy without sacrificing too much convenience.
It comes with ad-blocking enabled (though there is now an ads-based rewards program) and uses both NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere as well. Brave does block browser fingerprinting, but like all Chromium-based browsers, it is vulnerable to WebRTC leaks that will expose a user’s IP address.
4. IceCat (Previously IceWeasel)
IceCat works with the GNU operating system and is the GNU version of Firefox. It also comes with HTTPS Everywhere and uses special SpyBlock and LibreJS technology to protect users from trackers and malicious software. Just like the others on this list, IceCat also employs browser fingerprinting countermeasures.
Something that makes IceCat really accessible is that its homepage is full of useful info on how to tweak the browser’s privacy settings. It also has checkboxes that let users disable certain website-breaking settings whenever they need to.
Generally, people like to choose their browsers based on what’s popular, or they just stick to what they’ve been using for years. But that’s no longer enough, thanks to how prevalent online attacks and data breaches have become.
It’s time to choose a safer browser that will respect its user’s privacy and protect them from being exploited.