A browser is your gateway to the internet. It interprets code from websites you visit and displays it in the form of images, text, video, etc. It also tracks your browsing habits to make your overall experience more enjoyable and convenient. Your choice of browser affects much more than what you see on the screen, however. Tap or click here for details on the top browsers.
Your data is being collected at a faster pace than ever before. This information is shared between companies to track your every movement on the web to target you with ads. Hackers take things a step further with phishing scams to steal your passwords and credit card information, not to mention hitting you with viruses and malware.
Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve tried a new browser, but as cyberattacks become more prevalent, it’s a good idea to see what’s out there. We gathered some of the most secure and well-known browsers to help you choose.
Best overall browser for privacy: Brave
Most browsers use some form of ad and pop-up blocking, and Brave is no different. What sets Brave apart is how far it goes with this philosophy. The big boys of browsing will block what they deem to be most intrusive, so you’ll still be hit with more “legitimate” ads. Brave blocks all advertising and trackers by default.
Brave doesn’t see or store your browsing data, though it does remember site authentications. You can even see what was blocked through Brave’s New Tab Page, whether it’s phishing, malware or something else malicious. No browser is perfect, and you should always be vigilant for scams such as this one masquerading as PayPal.
So how does Brave support itself? You can opt-in to see ads created by Brave, which are not targeted to you based on browsing habits, but rather are made for a general audience. By viewing these ads and the sites they represent, you earn Basic Attention Tokens or BATs.
This cryptocurrency can be allocated to your favorite sites and content creators, who in turn can convert it into actual currency. You even get 15% of the total for yourself. Brave runs on the Chromium source code, which also powers Google Chrome, so it may feel familiar to you.
Download Brave for free right here. It’s also available as an app for Android and Apple devices.
Best browser for customizable privacy: Firefox
When you browse the internet, you leave cookies everywhere you go. A cookie is a tiny piece of data used to record information about you, be it shopping habits or preferred music. Third-party cookies are created by parties other than the website you are visiting and can be used to track you across different sites. In 2019, Mozilla Firefox began blocking third-party cookies by default, including cross-site tracking.
While not all third-party tracking is blocked, Firefox does offer options. You can use global protection levels such as “Strict” or “Standard,” or you can go the custom route. This last setting allows you to specify which trackers and scripts Firefox blocks.
Social media trackers are also blocked by default and you can play with these settings as well. Take Firefox for a test drive on your computer by clicking here.
Best browser for maximum security: Tor
While most of us are content with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect our identities online, some users want even more anonymity. Tor browser runs your connection through multiple volunteer servers before you reach your destination. These servers are random and can be located anywhere in the world. Your data is encrypted between each “node,” adding layers of protection.
A VPN can still be used with Tor and is a good idea no matter which browser you are using. Tap or click here to find out why a VPN is important and learn more about Kim’s VPN of choice.
Tor’s level of privacy has led to its ban under some governments. You may also come across some websites that block your Tor browser. Those security layers also create a slower connection, though this is a small price to pay if you’re facing unjust censorship.
Tor runs on a modified version of the Firefox browser. You can download Tor here.
Best browser for privacy on Mac: Safari
Many people use the browser that came with their computer as a matter of convenience. In the case of Safari, this is a good thing. The Mac browser blocks cross-site tracking, so you can enjoy sites you use most without worrying about being followed. You can also open pages in Private Browsing mode, which means your search history won’t be stored.
Safari uses Google as its default search browser, which blocks malicious websites and protects you from malware and phishing scams. Safari doesn’t have an ad-blocker, but it does block pop-ups. Tap or click here to find out more about pop-up scams.
Alternative option: Microsoft Edge
Microsoft said so long to Internet Explorer, and the new Edge is a robust browser with lots of built-in privacy features. Microsoft launched a new version of its Edge browser last year, run on Chromium. Like Brave and Firefox, the new Edge offers protection from trackers and blocks ad providers from monitoring your activity and learning more about you.
You can choose the level of restriction from three settings and dictate which sites to block or not on a case-by-case basis. Want to know what Edge is blocking for a particular site? Click the lock icon to the left of the URL then click Trackers for a list.
Edge’s built-in Password Monitor will alert you if you visit a compromised website and prompt you to change your password to a stronger one. You can make your own or use a suggested password.
If you’re running Windows, you likely have Edge installed on your computer. If not, tap or click here to download it.