Many people are not concerned about their privacy online. But hackers, corporations, and governments are tracking your online activity and collecting personal information. Surfing the web anonymously is a challenge, so let’s talk about the best web browsers for privacy and security.
Standard browsers such as Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge are known to record user data and track activity. Instead, you should use one of the many alternative browsers. So let’s take a look at the best options for all your devices.
What makes a browser private and secure?
To make sure that you choose the best option, you should pay attention to several features of the browser. Here are the most important of them:
1. Ad blocker. A good ad blocker is a must. While you can always install it as an add-on, it’s even more convenient when it’s already built into the browser.
2. Fingerprint protection. Believe it or not, some websites use browser fingerprinting to track you and your online activities. This way they can collect information about you without using cookies. There are private browsers that offer fingerprint protection.
3. Automatic deletion of cookies. This feature is not available in all browsers, but you can always install an extension to automatically delete cookies for your browsers. This feature deletes all cookies from websites and apps you’ve visited as soon as you close your browser.
4. Customizability. Some web browsers have a variety of privacy features and are useful for customizing them. Customizing your browser’s privacy to your liking will allow you to be flexible as needed. This will also affect your browser speed.
5. HTTPS everywhere. HTTPS websites are the most secure and you will often be advised to only access them. Private browsers with HTTPS Everywhere will always connect you to the most secure version of the website you’re browsing.
6. Open source. Your browser doesn’t have to be open source, but it should be one that offers better security and privacy. If you’re into programming, open source browsers allow you to inspect their code and look for vulnerabilities or bugs yourself.
7. Privacy across devices. Not all privacy browsers are cross-platform. If you want one, you should look for cross-device functionality. Such browsers will allow you to exchange tabs, web pages and even bookmarks between your PC, smartphone or tablet. They will also offer the same level of privacy and security across all devices.
The best privacy-focused browsers
Find the most private and secure browser with built-in privacy features. Check out our options below and let us know which one you think is the best.
Tor is notorious for being used to browse the dark web. But fear not; you can also use Tor to browse the surface web like any other browser.
Tor encrypts all your internet traffic and keeps your actions private. Even ISPs can only see that you are connecting through the Tor network without having access to your browsing history. Tor uses three nodes, where each node can only decrypt a portion of the traffic. However, this complicates communication between nodes and affects the speed of the browser. As a result, it may sometimes run slower than other browsers.
The Tor browser focuses on privacy, but could use improved security features. It will block some plugins you might want to install and has no malware protection. The privacy settings aren’t easy to understand, so it’s best not to change them unless you’re an experienced Tor user.
Tor Browser is available for Windows, Linux, and macOS.
A Chromium-based browser, Brave is very lightweight but offers many interesting privacy features. In addition to a built-in ad blocker, it also has a built-in password manager that will allow you to protect all your online accounts. Brave also has one-click fingerprint scanning, tracking protection, and a script blocker.
Although Brave is an open source browser, some people do not trust its Chromium base because it is developed by Google. The Brave browser also prioritizes ads that generate revenue for Brave itself, rather than the websites you visit.
Brave was also in the news for auto-completing URLs that led to cryptocurrency websites through their affiliate links. This means Brave was directly monetizing certain websites, raising questions about the browser’s reliability. This isn’t a privacy violation per se, but it is an issue with Brave’s transparency.
Brave is available for Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android.
3. Mozilla Firefox
Mozilla Firefox is a popular mainstream browser that is lightweight and convenient thanks to its easy-to-use design. It is also an open source browser and over the years its code has been thoroughly researched by various programmers and enthusiasts. So far, they haven’t found any dog lines of code that would compromise privacy.
Firefox Private Browsing includes anti-phishing, anti-malware, anti-fingerprint and anti-tracking. But for complete privacy, Firefox users should always turn off the telemetry feature as it sends your data to Mozilla. This is easy to do because the browser offers detailed settings.
Mozilla Firefox is available for Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android.
DuckDuckGo is a search engine with a standalone browser for mobile phones. PC viewer is under development and PC users are eagerly waiting for it. The company has not yet announced plans to address privacy concerns such as fingerprinting. However, users trust them because of the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials extension, which you can already install in your web browser.
This extension will turn your normal browser into a private one. It forces all websites you visit to use its version of HTTPS if available. With this, DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials establishes an encrypted connection with websites and allows you to see their privacy ratings.
DuckDuckGo is available for Android and iOS as a browser and as an extension for desktop browsers regardless of the operating system.
Vivaldi is another Chromium-based browser with lots of privacy features. It also allows you to have multiple default search engines with different privacy and security settings. This is handy if you want to set up both normal and private browser modes. Each may have different settings.
Vivaldi fights back against keyloggers by disabling an inactive application programming interface (API). This means that websites will not be able to ask you for permission to use an API known to be abused for behavioral tracking. In addition, Vivaldi will provide you with a backup encryption key if you lose or forget your encryption password.
Vivaldi is available for Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android.
Chromium is an open source web browser whose source code is available to anyone. But that’s probably why Chromium isn’t as user-friendly as Google Chrome. You’ll have to do a lot of manual tweaking to get it running smoothly and to your liking.
Chromium has the most frequent updates. A new one comes out almost every day! This is a fantastic feature that prevents any privacy vulnerability. However, all update installations must be done manually. This is what drives people away from Chromium. To maintain your privacy and security, you need to check for updates and actively install them.
Chromium is available for Windows, Linux, macOS and Android.
Epic Browser has all privacy features enabled by default. It will automatically block ads, cookies and trackers. Its default search engine is DuckDuckGo. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change your Epic settings. You can, but always at the expense of privacy and security.
Epic is strongly committed to privacy and security. This browser does not have spell check, autocomplete, or autosync. It also doesn’t allow you to install plugins. It also doesn’t save your browser history or login details. It also blocks RTC calls so your IP address is never revealed.
Epic is one of the best browsers for privacy, but it can be too limited and difficult to use. This browser is also based on Chromium, and since Google developed Chromium, there is no 100% guarantee that it is completely safe.
Epic is available for Windows and macOS.
Iridium is not the most popular browser, but it offers solid privacy features. This browser will block all third-party cookies, delete website data after it is closed, has no telemetry and does not save your passwords by default. Iridium makes its Git repositories publicly available for anyone to check out.
Because Iridium is based on Chromium, it is compatible with most Chrome extensions, but installing them may affect the browser’s privacy and security. There are plug-in compatibility issues when opening certain websites.
Iridium has irregular updates and must be installed manually. This cumbersome task deters many users.
Iridium is available for Windows, macOS and Linux.
9. Apple Safari
Safari is a popular internet browser developed by Apple. It also performs well when it comes to privacy and security. In private mode, the default search engine is DuckDuckGo. It also boasts machine learning privacy protection and anti-fingerprint features. The fact that it runs each tab in a separate sandbox, so your data is protected from malicious codes designed to access it.
Safari has built a rendering engine based on open source WebKit. But the rest of the browser uses closed code, and anything can be hidden in it. That doesn’t make Apple Safari the most reliable privacy option. After all, Apple was already in the midst of controversy when it was discovered that it was collecting the browsing history of its users.
Available for macOS and iOS.
Opera seems like a good choice for people who are concerned about their security. However, when it comes to privacy, it sometimes fails. It comes with a free built-in VPN. Although not the best for privacy, the developers of Opera claim that it is a no-logs VPN. This is a feature you should always look out for when choosing a VPN, paid or free.
They don’t say that Opera doesn’t have a real VPN, but a proxy that will only work in the browser. This means that your IP address will not be permanently masked.
Opera has built-in ad and tracker blocks that are enabled by default. However, it does not have fingerprint protection. This is not a problem if you enable the VPN proxy feature as it will create an almost unique fingerprint. This should be a good enough protection against data collection.
Available for Windows, macOS, Linux and Android platforms.
Enjoy private viewing
Everyone from companies to government agencies is after your data. Unfortunately, surfing in incognito mode will not provide you with private web browsing. Web browsers collect a lot of information through cookies, trackers, ads, and your IP address. If you want to avoid Big Brother, start using one of the private web browsers on this list.
However, a private browser is not enough to fully protect your privacy. You should also start using anonymous email services and a reliable VPN service. Finally, hide the digital navigation crackers you left behind and keep your browsing history to yourself.