Privacy Browsers: The Best Browsers for Maximum Security

Martin Gschwentner

Browsers serve as portals to the World Wide Web. No one should be barred from entering the Net, which is why Internet browsers focus on one thing: usability. Browsers need to be intuitive, fast, and easy to use, all while not drawing too much attention to themselves. With that in mind, it comes as little surprise that less tech-savvy people equate their browser with the Internet itself.

However, this functionality comes at a price. Combining simplicity and data protection is often a challenge, making it necessary for most developers to skimp on one of the two. In the majority of cases, data protection gets shortchanged.

The Most Common Browsers - Why Add More?

There are millions of reasons why Google's Chrome, Mozilla's Firefox, and Microsoft's Edge are three of the most-used browsers on the planet. Near the top of the list though, they're extremely easy to use, loaded with features, and make surfing both more convenient and straightforward. When it comes to security and privacy, however, not all that glitters is gold.

This doesn't mean that surfing with Chrome is dangerous. Rather, we should speak of fundamental concerns regarding how each browser handles privacy. For example, to provide users with a more personalized surfing experience, Google utilizes tracking technology that tailors ads and search results to individual preferences. Some see this as convenient, while others consider it a gross violation of their privacy. As another issue, Microsoft and Mozilla take their time in releasing security updates.

If data protection and privacy are important to you and you're okay with sacrificing some convenience, there are a number of privacy browsers you can choose from.

Maximum Security: Which Privacy Browsers Are There?

You've decided to protect your Internet activity with a browser that offers enhanced security. Below, we'll introduce you to some of the most popular options available:

1.

Tor

The best-known privacy browser is most likely that offered by Tor, short for "The Onion Router". Based on Mozilla's Firefox, the browser with a purple onion for its logo was initially developed for the US Navy to communicate in secret. Nowadays, Tor Browser is especially popular among journalists, dissidents, and data protection activists.

Tor encrypts user data before it's transmitted online, passing it through multiple layers (like an onion) until it's been sufficiently anonymized. With Tor, user privacy is the top priority, and it's possible to surf anonymously without having to worry about browser fingerprinting and tracking.

All of that comes at a price though, as you'll have to make do without some usability. Due to the browser's onion structure, transferring data is slower than with a regular browser, and loading the browser takes longer as well. As a final disadvantage, Tor Browser's interface isn't going to win any design awards.

2.

Brave

Brave is definitely more elegantly packaged than Tor. The open-source browser allows users to select which data should be deleted after each browsing session. Security measures like ad blocking and anti-fingerprinting are activated by default. On top of that, you can also select from a variety of options to customize the browser to your preferences.

On the downside, since the browser is relatively new, it lacks support for a large number of third-party extensions.

3.

Comodo Dragon/Ice Dragon

Dragon and Ice Dragon are privacy browsers developed by Comodo and based on Google's open-source Chromium software and Mozilla's Firefox, respectively. Since Comodo is known for its effective security mechanisms and firewall protection, both Dragon and Ice Dragon provide users with extra protection for their sensitive online data.

4.

Opera

Opera might seem like a surprise inclusion to this list as the browser is also known outside of data protection circles. Like the Comodo browsers, Opera is based on Chromium and the fundamentally secure architecture which it provides. Opera promises its users anonymity and comes with features like an integrated ad blocker and VPN.

5.

Other Browsers

The list of privacy browsers is long and includes lesser-known alternatives such as SRWare Iron, Epic, Torch, Waterfox, Yandex, or Freenet, each of which has fans and advocates. Every browser is unique and has many features as well as advantages and disadvantages.

Conclusion: Privacy Browsers - To Use or Not To Use?

Even the most passionate data protection advocate can likely find enough options and extensions to put their minds at ease among the conventional browser choices. With that said, the old adage of being one's own worst enemy applies in the case of digital security. Even if you use Chrome or Firefox, it's possible to avoid dangerous malware like Trojans by exercising caution and having a few security applications up and running.

For communicating sensitive information, or if your privacy is especially important to you, browsers like Tor offer an excellent supplement. Although not many people are likely to use Tor as their primary browser just to ensure maximum security, hybrids like Opera now combine usability with strong data protection.

Overall, it's hard to reach a general conclusion, since each browser has its own advantages and disadvantages.

If you're keen on protecting your data while using conventional browsers, there are a number of extensions you can install to obscure your browser fingerprint or block ads.

Author (German Version): Martin Gschwentner
Martin Gschwentner majored in American Studies and Media Studies in Germany, the USA and France and works as a freelance editor in Paris. He is a doctoral student at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Paris Diderot, where he is researching the influence of money on US politics. On EXPERTE.com he writes about IT security, data protection and software for the self-employed and small businesses.
English Translator & Editor: Brendan Philipp
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