Undoubtedly Google Chrome is the most widely used popular browser in the world. This is understandable, as in many ways it is a fantastic browser easy to use UI, fast browsing experience, and more. But Unfortunately, although it is secure from a technical perspective, it not private. This is a company whose entire business model is to spy on its users to profile them for targeted advertising. Similarly to Chrome, Edge and Safari all have similar concerns. These browsers can all be considered secure, in that they are difficult to hack and are resilient to website exploits. The problem is that they cannot be trusted not to compromise your privacy to their developers. Here we have collected 3 browsers that are not just secure browsers, they are also considered private browsers.
Most Secure Browser – Firefox
Pros of Firefox
- Open source and fully audited
- Fully featured
- Lots of privacy add-ons
- Regularly updated to fix security issues
- Tracking Protection built-in to the interface
Cons of Firefox
- Telemetry and various other worrying stuff
- Requires various add-ons and fixes to be genuinely private
Firefox is the only mainstream open-source browser, and the open source code has been fully audited. It is developed by Mozilla Foundation, which claims to be a non-profit organization. It is a fully featured and private browser that is arguably at least as secure as Chrome. The new(ish) “Quantum” rendering engine has been built from the ground up to greatly improve speeds and includes Tracking Protection built-in to the interface. And firefox now has built-in protection against canvas fingerprinting, the most common form of browser fingerprinting. However to make Firefox the most secure browser you need to change some settings and install some privacy add-ons.
Outside of the security and privacy concerns, Firefox supports hundreds of very useful or just plain fun browser add-ons. It also features end-to-end encrypted syncing of tabs across browsers and devices, and the ability to send tabs between devices.
Firefox is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. Get Firefox from the official site here.
Pros of Tor Browser
- Open source
- Hardened Firefox
- Defeats browser fingerprinting
- Regularly patched to fix security issues
Cons of Tor Browser
- Not as fully-featured as regular Firefox
- Not as fast as Firefox Quantum (even without Tor)
Tor Browser is primarily designed to provide secure access to the Tor anonymity network. It is based on Firefox but has been hardened out-of-the-box to improve security and privacy. Using Tor Browser, however, is widely regarded as the best way to defeat to browser fingerprinting techniques.
Key features of this hardening include:
- Uses HTTPS Everywhere and NoScript (all scripts disabled by default) plugins
- Blocks other browser plugins such as Flash, RealPlayer, and QuickTime
- Uses Disconnect.me as its default search engine
- Always uses Private Browsing mode (tracking protection, no browsing history, passwords, search history, cookies or cached web content saved)
The Tor Browser is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. A special hardened version of Tor Browser is also available for Linux, which features additional security measures.
Download Tor browser from the official site here.
Pros of Brave
- Open Source
- Tracking protection
Cons of Brave
- Can Chromium code be trusted not to call home?
- Ad-replacement program
Brave is based on Chromium instead of Firefox. Chromium is the open-source code behind Chrome, with all the closed proprietary bits stripped out (at least in theory).
It comes with a built-in ad-blocker, tracking protection, script blocker, and HTTPS-Everywhere functionality. Brave also features one-click anti-fingerprinting and WebRTC leak protection. And anyone pining for Chrome will feel at home instantly.
Despite all this, Brave is a controversial choice…
- Brave helps to fund itself via an ad-replacement program. This replaces “bad ads” with “good ads” from its network partners, with the option of users taking a cut from the ad revenue. Participating in this program is opt-in, but detractors feel it adds to a problem that privacy browsers are supposed to be fixing and therefore compromises the company’s integrity.
- Although open source and nominally “de-Googled,” there is every reason to mistrust any code produced by Google. It is almost impossible to guarantee the code is 100% clean and is no calling home.
Brave is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. Get it from the official site here.
Pros of Waterfox
- Firefox without the worrying stuff
- Syncs with regular Firefox account
- Tracking protection
Cons of Waterfox
- No Quantum speed boost
- Stuck on Firefox 56, so potential security issues
Waterfox is an open-source browser based on Firefox. In many ways, it is fairly plain vanilla Firefox 56, and there are no plans to move beyond that we are aware of. This means that it supports both legacy Firefox add-ons, and the new add-ons. It includes tracking protection and will sync with your regular Firefox account.
Crucially, Waterfox removes much of the stuff that is worrying for privacy from Firefox:
- Disables Encrypted Media Extensions (EME)
- Disables Web Runtime (deprecated as of 2015)
- Removes Pocket
- Removes Telemetry
- Removes data collection
- Removes startup profiling
- Removal of Sponsored Tiles on New Tab Page
Some stability issues have been reported with Waterfox, but these only affect a tiny minority of users. The biggest problem is that it is stuck on Firefox 56. This means no Quantum speed boost, but may have more important security implications. Waterfox is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. Get it form official site here.
What is private browsing?
Private browsing mode is primarily aimed at preventing people who have direct physical access to your computer from seeing what you have been up to online. When using private mode:
- Websites you visit are not saved to your browser’s History
- Searches are not saved locally
- Form data is not saved locally
- Cookies are deleted when the session ends
- Your browsing sessions are isolated from your regular sessions.
By deleting cookies between sessions private browsing mode does usefully prevent some basic tracking by websites, but the benefits of this are easily overstated.
And Basically, private mode does not make you private on the internet.
- Websites can see your unique internet (IP) address
- Websites cannot track you using cookies,
- Your internet provider (ISP) can see every website you visit on the internet.
- Downloaded files and bookmarks made in private mode are saved as normal
- Keyloggers and malware installed on your system can track everything you do online.
And if you are really serious about your privacy, can use a VPN to completely encrypt your information and secure your privacy.