Ahhh! Cyber criminals don’t you just hate them? They take our most prized possessions and hold it ransom until we cough up the dough.
This year, after falling for the oldest scam in the tech industry, I have lost years’ worth of important files and photos that I’ll likely never see again.
If only I used a more secure browser, I wouldn’t have landed on their page in the first place. Oh well what’s done is done.
However, ever since that day I wonder with so many invasive tactics and breach of privacy attacks, is today’s internet even safe.
However, luckily for you guys, I am going to be discussing some great browsers I have discovered in my quest for best secure browsers of 2018.
Whether you prefer fast performance or simple user interface, these browsers are perfect for you.
What is a Secure web Browser?
Any browser that incorporates special security architecture can be considered a secure browser.
Fortunately, many open source web browsers offer certain resources for more private browsing. For instance, Firefox, which is a very popular mainstream browser, offers multiple popular plugins for secure browsing.
Similarly, security features such as Anti-tracking, IP filtering, add blocking and secure downloading have made today’s popular browsers like Edge, Chrome and Safari considerably more secure.
So much so in fact that they can even be deemed secure for the most part.
However, this definitely does not mean you should solely rely on them for privacy, since tech giants like Google, Facebook among others literally feed off of your private data.
For instance, have you ever noticed online advertisements and how they eerily correlate to your recent search results? This is no coincidence since these multibillion-dollar companies use cunning algorithms to syphon your data for their personal gain.
Luckily, most mainstream browsers nowadays offer a range of controls to its users to fine-tune their secure browsing experience. However, many people still find this notion skeptical since most online user correlate privacy with a more stripped down browser.
Another thing worth mentioning is that, although various browser plugins and add-ons can make a browser more secure, they cannot guarantee complete privacy.
This might sound contradicting, however you must consider that real online privacy can only be achieved by making yourself anonymous on your public network, which could only be achieved by tools like VPN
Best secure web browser can make a night and day difference in your everyday browsing. However, with that said, finding a reliable browser that actually works can be a meticulous process.
Typically, you should consider reputable open source browsers since they do not possess any ulterior motives other than providing a good service.
Therefore, I am going to list and discuss some great open source browsers that you can rely on for your next browsing session.
Pale Moon is another creation of Firefox’s open source library; however, unlike most Firefox clone this browser is significantly different as it ditches most of the Firefox’s privacy compromising features for a comparatively more private browsing experience.
Since Pale Moon is a community driven project, most new Firefox’s plugins and extensions are not compatible with it. Fortunately, Pale Moon developers have thought it through as there is a completely separate library of security plugins and add-ons custom built for this browser.
Feature wise, this browser did not amaze me that much; however, that is not the intent of the developers behind the browser. Under the hood the browser is pretty much updated and patched with latest Firefox privacy releases, however it is still rocking the old school XUL based interface.
The XUL interface is rather cool since it supports a whole slew of themes and customizable options regardless of what platform you decide to use.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for customization and I wish more browsers incorporate such customization features.
In my testing, the browser worked flawlessly for the most part with a bit of stutters here and there. After researching the cause of latency, I found that Pale Moon lacks complete support for HTML5 and CSS3, which does rectify the cause of rendering issues.
However, since this browser is an independent project, features and updates need to trickle down from the official developers of Firefox themselves in order to be incorporated into the browser.
- Open source
- Memory friendly
- Custom library of add-ons and plugins
- Regularly patched
- Lacks complete HTML5 and CSS3 support
Brave is a secure browser with deep roots in the Mozilla project. Although, the cofounder of Mozilla himself first announced it, the browser was actually built from the ground up using Google’s chromium web kit instead of Firefox’s open source library.
Although, a relatively new browser it has certainly made a powerful presence with its ultra-fast speeds and powerful privacy features all packaged in a minimalistic design.
Speaking of privacy features, brave offers HTTPS Everywhere, Anti fingerprinting, script blocking and few others. Above all, it also allows you to delete certain web data every time you exit out of the browser.
Besides being super secure, Brave also has a good support team. The browser gets regular updates and the most frequent you can expect an updated to roll out is at least two weeks, which is really not that bad.
The only thing I did not like about the browser is its lack of third party plugin support, which can be disappointing to many users. However, the default plugins that do come with the browser offer some level of satisfaction.
- Open Source
- HTTPS Everywhere
- Lack of third party plugin support
Tor is built on a heavily altered version of Firefox boasting little to no similarities to the original browser. This browser is infamous amongst privacy enthusiast thanks to its ability to route traffic through multiple scattered nodes.
Since Tor passes your data through random nodes, it makes it very difficult for anyone to track you down. However, with so much rerouting, your browsing speed is definitely going to suffer.
Despite being such an amazing browser, it still has a pretty bad rep on the internet. This is partially due to the fact that Tor is known to access restricted content on the dark web. Although, it is true to some extent, many Tor users simply use it for its awesome Anti fingerprinting techniques.
Unlike other secure browsers in this list, Tor is more inclined towards privacy as opposed to security; this is why you will not find any fancy smancy plugins and add-ons for this browser other than the default ones.
Other than rerouting your network traffic, Tor has some very nifty privacy features up its sleeves. The browser uses HTTPS Everywhere along with NoScript to get rid of all runtime scripts, it also disables mainstream plugins for a very stripped down and privacy focused browsing experience.
Although Tor is a very capable browser, it is considerably slower than other browsers and does require a bit of learning to get a hang of it. However, you can be rest assured that nothing is tracked or stored with Tor.
Also Read: How to bypass ISP throttling with a VPN
- Open source
- Regularly patched
- No scripting
- HTTPS Everywhere
- Comparatively slower
Waterfox is another secure browser and just like many others, it is also built using Firefox’s open source library. The browser looks and feels pretty much like a stock Firefox browser, which is necessarily not a bad thing since it provides support for both new and old Firefox plugins.
Speaking of plugins, since Waterfox is built on the Firefox platform, it automatically synchronizes all of your Firefox plugins and settings so you do not have to do them again manually, which I have to admit is a pretty smart feature.
Despite sharing so many similarities with Firefox, Waterfox has managed to brand itself as its own browser negating all of the privacy intrusive features associated with Firefox. This way you do not have to worry about Tracking, Telemetry, Advertisements, Scripting and a bunch of other stuff.
Performance wise, the browser did suffered from occasional lags and stutters after using more mainstream browsers like chrome and Microsoft Edge I noticed a lot.
For instance, while streaming videos, Waterfox became very glitchy to a point where it was no longer usable.
However, these issues only affected a very small number of users and after receiving Firefox’s latest updates and patches, everything was optimized to a point where it felt like a premium-polished browser.
This browser is also very customizable and there is even an Android application so you can essentially take this browser anywhere on the go.
All in all Waterfox is a very secure browser and considering the small development team behind it earn it definitely earns massive respect from me.
- Open Source
- Regularly patched
- Good plugin support
- Built on an older version of Firefox
Now Firefox is one of those browsers that has always been known for its flexibility and insane support of secure plugins and extensions.
Even out of the box, Firefox blows away its mainstream competition like Chrome and Safari with its simplicity and awesome security features.
However, it must be noted that in order to achieve high level of security, most diehard Firefox fans often opt for privacy plugins as opposed to using it without one.
Although these plugins offer security, but in some cases they can also result in compromising the browsers own security mechanisms. However, these type of instances are very rare and are often patched relatively quickly.
Stepping out of the realm of security, Firefox is just a good old open source secure browser that has an awesome support system and a lightweight design, which is perfect for both diehard and casual Firefox supporters.
Moreover, ever since Firefox released its quantum update, the browser has become super fluid, boosting its already quick speeds and decreasing its Ram usage.
Although the speeds are still not as fast as let’s say Chrome, but if you prefer a browser that doesn’t rats you out or sells your data then definitely consider Firefox as your next browser.
- Open source
- Massive collection of add-ons and plugins
- Regularly patched and updated
- Heavily relies on plugins for privacy
Similar to antiviruses, browsers rely on security updates and patches as their first line of defense against any online cyber-attack. Although, developers do a pretty good job at blocking malicious contents, sometimes vulnerabilities are patched after they have affected a substantial chunk of the community.
Browsers like Firefox, however, have a strong development team and enough funds to conduct research and development so you do not have to worry about any vulnerabilities.
Security wise, no browser even comes close to Firefox, but it should also be mentioned that comparing browsers is not as easy as it sounds. All in all, I would prefer Firefox over any other browser any day of the week as there is just a huge selection of secure browser extension and customizations to choose from.
Ultimately, any secure browser app is obviously also going to be the safest, but if you want to get in to the nitty-gritty then a browser that offer ad block, anti-tracking, and no fingerprinting among other features is definitely going to be the safest.
Waterfox, Brave and Tor are just among the few you can opt for a comparatively safer web browsing experience.
No, it is certainly not
At the moment, both Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome are pretty similar in terms of security therefore labeling one better than other would not be right.
The only way Microsoft Edge has a slight edge over Chrome is its ability to log malicious websites better than Chrome, other than that, they are pretty much similar.
As discussed earlier, both browsers are similar in functionality, so Chrome is not better than Edge. However, one thing where chrome absolutely shines is it massive user base.
In terms of stress testing a browser, opening multiple tabs at the same time is definitely going to yield the best results. A detailed comparison of mainstream browsers conducted by PC world suggests that even after opening 20 tabs in Chrome, the browser still would not crash, which just shows how well it manages memory. However, it did made the browser a bit sluggish, which is to be expected in such scenarios.
Online privacy is no laughing matter and with an ever-increasing chance of cyber-attacks, people should consider investing in a more secure browser. Not only will it get rid of all the annoyingness of a traditional mainstream browser, but it will also protect you against any potential breach of privacy attacks.
All the browser discussed in this blog are open source and free to use, so definitely give them a go. However, one thing to bear in mind is that no browser can offer full privacy and anonymity, therefore, you must consider using one in conjunction with a VPN.