Technology

7 of the Safest Browsers to Use

7 of the Safest Browsers to Use

We have become a global population that depends on our internet browsers for almost everything. However, not all browsers are alike as each one offers a variety of differences in both security and privacy. As with everything in technology, companies ebb and flow based on popularity, ease of use, and business trends.

7} Microsoft Edge

The launch of Edge is the Microsoft action after getting rid of Internet Explorer. While originally designed for Windows users, it has expanded to accommodate Mac, Android and iOS and excels in fast page loads. Edge is Chromium-based and that means that some of it is open-source code, requiring browser updates that occur around once per week. These are a priority as many are security updates. A downside is that Edge has one big flaw in that it sends constant identifiers that could be used to link requests to backend servers by including IP address/location. The diagnostic collects website information of your browser history but does not link the URLs to you specifically.

6} Opera

Opera was developed in 1995 and since it has added a lot of the code found in Chromium it’s one of the most popular when considering privacy. One of the best aspects of Opera is that it has a built-in ad blocker. Opera also uses a tracker blocker that pulls from the EasyPrivacy Tracking Protection List that helps to protect users from being tracked by other websites and advertisers. The downside to Opera is that it will cache your data as a default but if you are savvy enough you can customize your security and privacy. Opera also offers a free built-in VPN but this does track log usage and bandwidth. Opera is owned by a Chinese consortium that is known for violations of privacy.

5} Apple Safari

Safari is the default browser used on Apple products such as Macs, and like Edge by Microsoft, isn’t as popular as Google Chrome. Safari does run their web pages in a sandbox and that helps to prevent code that is malicious from affecting the browser or accessing your data. Safari keeps suspicious sites from loading and will alert the user to potential danger. It prevents website tracking with its ITP feature (Intelligent Tracking Prevention) as well as through the use of digital fingerprinting camouflage that keeps third parties from default data deposit to your cache. The downside is that security team analysis have found quite a few security issues in the ITP so that the feature leaks the habits of web-browsing. While some of these were fixed by Apple, users are still wary.

4} Google Chrome

As the leader in the browser market, Google Chrome has around 80% of users to contribute to its title of “leader.” Along with speed, Chrome offers many other features such as Google Docs, Gmail, and YouTube that have become indispensable. Google does an automatic update every 6-8 weeks so that users get the latest browsing features. Since part of it is open-source code, Chrome lets users review and adopt that code. Google has gone even further by inviting hackers to locate vulnerabilities in their browser so they can be fixed. Although users can make use of the “do not track,” it doesn’t do very much to stop site tracking. It should be noted that Google makes their profits from knowing everything about their users.

3} Brave

The creator of Brave also created JavaScript and is the former head of Mozilla. Brave may have a design that is minimalistic but it’s privacy-focused and performs fast. It has quite a few features that keep your browsing history private as well as an ad blocker that is default and halts their ability to track online behavior and when necessary, will secure unencrypted sites with HTTPS. Other good features of Brave is its ability to let you control what data you want deleted when you close the browser, block attempts at fingerprinting, and stop the loading of scripts. Brave lets you easily customize your experience for browsing to your security preference. The downside is: Although Brave does block ads it has its own ad program that makes the ad blocking a bit hypocritical, allowing them to profit without user consent. Brave has the BAT (Basic Attention Token) using cryptocurrency for users to pay publishers on an anonymous basis for their content and get a percentage back from their micro-donations. BAT has drawn suspicion as much of the coins ended up with a small group of people that were associated with advertising agencies. Brave has indicated that a User Growth Pool was developed with 300 million BAT for Brave users for referral rewards and free grants.

2} Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla is the only browser (so far) that was developed by a nonprofit organization. Mozilla has long been known for its ability to be customized and as more of an underdog to the browser giants. While Firefox doesn’t have as many updates as Google Chrome, it does have the latest features for browsing and security within weeks of the Chrome updates. Firefox has a list of features for security including malware and phishing protecting, user warnings when a site has attempted to install add-ons, and the ability to block reported attack websites and forged web locations. Firefox is the only browser that is totally open-source so that anyone has the option of reviewing the source code. Firefox offers “strong privacy protection from the moment [users] install,” and they can be customized.

1} Tor

Based on the Firefox browser, the Tor Project was designed so that users could access the internet on an anonymous basis. It’s also the only browser used for the dark web. Everything is encrypted on Tor using three layers for both identity and activity. Tor accomplishes this by communication bouncing to a variety of distributed network relays that are manned by thousands of computers that have been volunteered. Tor uses the same strategy as Firefox for security patches and bug fixes. After each session using Tor it clears out the user’s cookies. Tor uses NoScript integration to protect users from the sites that use fingerprint browsing history and thus far is the only browser that can act to reduce the unique quality of a user’s fingerprint. The downside is that the security Tor offers may affect the routes that it takes for traffic and that law enforcement are aware that those involved in criminal activity prefer Tor. It’s suggested that for those that want to use Tor, they connect to a VPN first.

Source: Express VPN / PCMag