Browser security is one of the most important elements of general internet security. As popular browsers get faster, offer a better browsing experience and increased privacy, the top priority should be the browser’s security. With the rise of programmatic advertising, AI-powered bots, and voice search, browsers are also opening gates to bots collecting personally identifiable information for Internet marketing or identity theft. Website tracking and web analytics collect user data with the “help” of web bugs, click-jacking, like-jacking (targeting Facebook’s ‘like’ button), cookies, adware, viruses, spyware such as Trojan horses or other malware leading to disastrous security breaches including online banking theft.
So Which Browser Should You Use?
Vulnerabilities in the web browser software can be minimized by keeping browser software updated. But the majority of users don’t even bother with that. In general, your security online mostly depends on your behavior. No browser can always protect a user who has unsafe browsing habits. As always, good browsing practices are fundamentally important, no matter what browser you’re using.
Today, there are dozens of browsers available, but not all of them are absolutely secure. In this article we take a look at some of the most popular browsers in 2018 — but how secure are they? Let’s take a look at some of the safest internet browser for Windows 10 and Windows 7.
Firefox is the only mainstream open-source browser, and the open source code has been audited by reputable third-party organizations. Firefox is a fully-featured secure browser with a built-in Tracking Protection tool in its interface. The browser also has an integrated protection against canvas fingerprinting which is a common tactic to collect user data for advertising targeting purposes. In order to make full use of security features of Firefox you need to change a few settings and install privacy add-ons which block canvas elements on the page.
In addition to addressing many security and privacy concerns, Firefox supports hundreds of useful browser add-ons. Some of the attractive features are end-to-end encrypted syncing of tabs across browsers and devices. This feature allows running each tab as a self-contained sandbox to separate your browsing life. This is great for tracking prevention.
As the argument continues whether Firefox is the most secure browser, Mozilla (Firefox’s creator) tries to maintain balance between creating the most privacy-focused browser and the need to make their product financially viable.
Firefox is available for Windows, macOS, Linux and Android devices. The iOS version lacks many features available on other platforms as a result of Apple’s restrictions on competing browsers on their devices.
Tor is short from “The Onion Router”. Tor network is made up of volunteer-operated servers that creates one of the most secure and private browsers on the Internet. Tor users connect through a series of “virtual tunnels” instead of directly connecting to servers. This helps share and access information without compromising user identity. All Internet traffic is encrypted and routed through a complex network of anonymous nodes until it reaches its final destination.
Why use Tor? If you wish to prevent websites from using cookies and tracking you, or to connect to news sites prohibited in some countries, or if you want to use certain messaging services anonymously, then Tor is for you. The Tor web browser hides your location, IP address, and other identifying data when you are surfing the web. The downside of Tor is that it’s a lot slower than competition. Tor is available for Windows and Mac users.
While anonymity is what attracts most users to Tor, it doesn’t mean that using this browser is illegal. Tor and its blockchain-like user connectivity are putting this browser ahead of many competitors when it comes to user privacy.
Opera web browser was brought into development in 1994 as a research project at Norway’s telecommunications company Telenor. In 1995, it spun off into a separate company named Opera Software ASA. The first publicly released version was released in 1996 and it ran only on the Microsoft Windows platform. Currently, the Opera web browser is available for the Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS operating systems.
The Opera browser is based on the open-source Chromium browser platform, the same one that Google’s Chrome is built on. Opera has several security-focused features that help protect users as they surf the internet. One of the most useful security features is its free, built-in Virtual Private Network (VPN) functionality. A VPN protects a user’s browsing session by encrypting the browser’s internet connection, which protects the user’s online behavior from any privacy breaches. It’s worth noting that Opera VPN protects only web browsing, while email and instant messaging done in Opera are not protected. Among Opera’s fraud and malware protection functionality are the user warnings of suspicious web pages, and this feature is turned on by default. When a user accesses a certain website, the browser checks it against a “blacklist” database of phishing and malware hackers.
Apple released its native web browser, Safari, in 2000. It is currently available only on the Mac OS X, macOS and iOS platforms. A Windows version was discontinued in 2012 and is no longer supported by Apple.
Safari 11 is the latest version of Apple’s desktop browser released in September 2017 as part of the macOS High Sierra operating system. Its excellent reputation in part could be explained by the small user base, but as the popularity of Mac devices has grown, they have become more attractive targets for hackers.
Safari is considered to be a secure browser, although numerous loopholes have been discovered during hacking marathons (successfully patched during numerous and frequent updates). One of the built-in security features is the Intelligent Tracking Prevention functionality which identifies advertisers and potential fraudsters who are trying to track user activity or collect user data. Another helpful feature is the Private browsing feature that prevents Safari from storing a user’s search history or auto-fill information. A great addition to the recent security update is a tab sandboxing feature which protects browsing sessions from malicious code and malware by confining each page to a single browser tab. This prevents it from crashing a browser or accessing other websites’ data.
Chrome was officially released in 2008. Its popularity grew exponentially and in 2017 it was estimated that Chrome won a 63% share of the worldwide desktop web browser market, in addition to a 50% market share on smartphones. Chrome is the default browser on Android devices. During hackathons (hacking marathons), the browser security was not breached, while its competitors’ security was compromised at least once.
To protect its users and warn them about a potentially dangerous website, Google uses separate blacklists — one for phishing and another one for malware. The browser also offers downloadable scanning tool to protect against malware. The browser places tabs into sandboxes which prevents them from abusing critical memory functions, such as operating system memory and user files. Chrome also offers an Incognito private browsing mode which prevents storing cookies or a browsing history. However, this function doesn’t prevent internet providers or hackers from accessing the user’s activity in live mode, so this is not a truly encrypted connection such as a VPN.
Among the drawbacks of Chrome is a lack of a master password function to prevent access to a user’s passwords, which are stored by the browser. But the biggest drawback is that the mere fact that Chrome was developed by the search giant known for tracking user activity and keeping an eye on users’ search history to deliver targeted advertising.
Epic Privacy Browser
Epic Privacy Browser was designed with one single idea in mind — to provide completely private browsing, with built-in security functions and a permanently “on” advanced security settings. Epic Privacy browser is built on the Chromium engine, which is also the one that Google Chrome browser runs on.
Epic is merciless towards trackers and third-party cookies as it also protects search history from being saved and tracked. It automatically loads search engine results via its built-in proxy so that search engines cannot track users by their IP addresses. Whenever possible, the browser uses the HTTPS version of the websites which adds another layer of security.
To protect the user’s privacy even more, Epic browser has a built-in encrypted proxy, similar to VPN, which encrypts the data end-to-end and hides your IP address. It’s worth noting that many websites that rely on user’s location to deliver content, for example, Netflix, Facebook and Gmail, will not work properly with VPN enabled or may require additional authentication steps when the proxy or VPN is turned on. To remind the user about the importance of privacy protection online, Epic offers a running count of how many trackers have been blocked during any browsing session.
Most internet users are unaware of internet surveillance and vulnerabilities which makes it a necessity to use only a secure browser for daily activities online. The use of a very secure browser is essential because it protects sensitive data and essentially prevents data breaches and cyber-attacks. Currently, only the use of special reliable third-party resources like VPN or proxy can ensure that your browsing data is kept safe, and all browsing history and searches are encrypted. Here is a bonus for you: install StopAd and it will deactivate online trackers so that search engines, advertisers and cyber criminals can’t collect your personal data as you surf. Plus, no ads, no interruption.
Browser Comparison Chart