This article was posted on behalf of Moltensoft.net by Culture of Gaming
Considering the fact that you are reading this post now, it means, you are concerned about your online security more than the majority of users. Kudos to you because most people ignore the question of browser safety. The fact that Google Chrome steadily remains the most popular browser just proves this tendency.
Even knowing Google’s reputation as a shady organization in everything that comes to data security, users still opt for the first accessible option without considering underlying safety risks. A browser is an intermediary between a website and a user, and it can either expose you to threats or block them immediately.
What is a safe browser?
If you use a VPN and a password manager, you are still not really safe. For one thing, extensions often collect data themselves – and whoever takes a deeper look at where the gathered information goes? So, while extensions increase your security somewhat, it can also be only a placebo.
Safe online activity means that you can browse online without leaving tracks of your personal information. The main browser’s role is to ensure that the website is not spying on you, blocking ad trackers, and spot malware. If you make financial transactions or send documents, you basically put your financial security on the line each and every time you access a website using one of these ‘shady’ browsers.
Why the majority of browsers are not safe?
Users trust familiar names. Google Chrome, with Google backing it up, and Edge, created by Microsoft, seem trustworthy just because they have big names attached to them. On top of that, these browsers are built-in on many devices – you don’t have to go through extra download hassles.
The problem is, these corporations don’t treat browsers as their main projects, but as a mere means to achieve a goal. Both Google and Microsoft collect a lot of user data to know their audience’s preferences, spying on their browsing history, personal information, and online activity. Even if you don’t notice any damage done to you directly, your online results will be influenced. Unwanted ads imposed political views, and built-in trackers – this is only the beginning as far as problems that could occur during your online activity.
Characteristics of a secure browser
Data protection – a safe browser protects a user’s private information and deletes digital footprints.
How is security achieved? The browser channels traffic through its own network so the user’s location and IP remain unknown. The browser does not make your activity fully anonymous – don’t confuse this with incognito mode. Browsing Incognito would be uncomfortable because you need browsers to remember your passwords and most-often visited websites to make online browsing faster. With full anonymity, all this data will be deleted.
Most sensitive procedures
- Sign-up and log-in activity: passwords, logins, emails, security questions;
- Exchanging files and making a financial transaction;
- Communication: emails, voice messaging, social media.
- Secure websites have extra layers of protection which makes them especially difficult to hack;
- Browsers check websites for you, blocking dangerous connections and malicious advertising;
- All transited data is encrypted automatically;
- Your personal information is encrypted and protected from being shared with third-party servers.
- Safe-by-design browsers prioritize security over speed and rich functionality;
- Some countries consider these safe browsers illegal;
- Secure browsers sometimes spot threats on innocent web pages – your browsing capacities might be limited for no good reason.
Still, even if safe browsers can get overly paranoid sometimes and see a threat where there is none, it’s not a reason to stop trusting their security checks altogether. Usually, they are quite accurate at spotting outdated protocols, viruses, malicious ad-trackers, and spyware.
What browser to choose?
To answer this question, we analyzed popular software (Google Chrome, Opera, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla) and smaller solutions (Avast browser, Brave, T.O.R., and others). The selection criteria were:
- Analysis of recent security-related updates;
- The history of privacy issues;
- Owners and development teams, and their security history;
- The size of userbase – it’s easier to find free add-ons, tutorials, and hacks for popular browsers;
So, we ended up with a clear winner on almost every criterion. Care to take a guess as to which it was?
Firefox has about all the benefits that a safe website can have. It’s Open Source, popular, and has a rich extension store. On top of that, it’s fast and simple – now these features are things you don’t see often in safety tools.
Most importantly, Mozilla Firefox is created and developed by a non-profit, not by a big corporation. From its very beginning, the development team’s main goal was to make online browsing accessible and safe – and so far, there have been no scandals with Firefox and no data breaches or spyware found on the browser. Also, because there is no huge international corporation to back the browser up, it’s less data-collection oriented. They don’t make money by selling your information (hello, Google) so you can download firefox 64 bit or 32 bit and use it with safety.
- Fast and safe data transfers – now Mozilla also has a built-in Firefox Send server for encrypted data exchange;
- A large catalogue of built-in security tools; most of them are turned off by default to keep the speed higher but you can turn them on in ‘Security’ settings;
- Clean and fast interface;
- Big userbase – tons of hacks, free tutorials, and active forums.
- Customer support is often inactive;
- Firefox loses in terms of speed to Google Chrome.
Firefox is absolutely a leading solution in safe online browsing. With recent updates, it also includes protection from ad trackers and crypto mining attacks, preventing computers from getting used for cryptocurrency mining.
What’s wrong with other popular solutions?
By this point, some may be asking: what’s wrong with Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Opera? While we already discussed some of their safety issues, let’s take a closer look to clear things up.
Google Chrome indeed issues hundreds of security updates and has a lot of official add-ons for enhanced browsing safety. Still, Google Chrome is owned by Google – and it’s been known to break privacy regulations on multiple occasions.
With Google Chrome, you will most likely be safe from third-party hackers but targeted by Google itself. The worst thing is, your personal data leakage, in this case, is completely seamless – you’ll be feeding Google with your browsing activity and buying preferences.
Microsoft Edge, being an alternative to outdated Internet Explorer, has more innovative security measures, and much higher browsing speed. Still, the number of available extensions is still lower than in Mozilla’s Store and there isn’t as much additional functionality.
Most importantly, viruses and hacking attacks continue to bypass Microsoft Edge protection. Microsoft fixes vulnerabilities as they discover new attacks, but there is still a long way to go in terms of the universality of their safety patches.
Opera was known to be the safest browser around for a number of reasons. For one thing, it was one of the first solutions with a built-in VPN, the number of successful security attacks was rather low (and still is), and user experiences remains one of the best around; although page loading speed was lower than Chromes or Edges.
However, now Opera is owned by a Chinese company with bad privacy history, and its VPNs were occasionally found to store user data. Now, with a shady company at the wheel and doubtful data-logging practices, users can’t be sure that their records aren’t being misused.
By using a secure browser, you protect your personal data and online history. Hence, you are not being exploited by ad providers or targeted by spyware, your PC is safe from multiple virus attacks and malicious connections.
If you don’t have extensive security knowledge, the browser will do the website vetting for you, determining which one is safe to connect to, and which isn’t. If you have cybersecurity understanding, – well, then you already understand the benefits of using a safe program.