There are countless browsers out there, but for the normal person, it’s not that hard to choose it seems. Everyone defaults to using Google Chrome, with the occasional Safari and Firefox user. The school computers even come with Chrome. However, none of these are any good for your privacy.
We will begin by introducing the browsers that are most commonly used, and then cover the ones that are recommended to be used.
Chrome is by far the most commonly used browser out there. It allows for easy but deep customization with the Chrome Web Store. Web applications are built with Chrome in mind, meaning almost all apps are compatible with the browser. However, this is in part due to Chrome not being privacy focused. Other browsers that are privacy focused can sometimes limit some features. One example of this is cross-site tracking or cookies. Privacy focused browsers often block the tracking of users across websites by the websites. Some sites won’t let users access the site without permission to track them.
If you don’t care about your privacy online, this is the best option to use.
However, we certainly can not recommend this, as it’s not safe, and some privacy focused browsers aren’t very limiting in their functionality in comparison to Chrome.
This is the default browser that comes on mac computers. In our opinion this is the best looking browser, with a great user experience. However, we will be talking about it’s privacy related aspects.
One of Apple’s selling points, especially in recent years has been privacy. All the marketing and new features like Private Relay leaves the impression that they’re products have great privacy features. But this is not the case.
For example, the aforementioned Private Relay is commonly described as a VPN. Though it is similar, like many products that advertise VPN-like features, it is not truly a VPN. On top of this, the browser is not open source, meaning that the code that makes up the browser is not available to the public. This means that they could be doing shady thing in the back without us knowing about it as it’s not up for scrutiny of the public.
However, they are one of, if not the only major company to at least be pushing for privacy, and so they are taking a step in the right direction. But still, with limited customizability like not being able to easily add extensions, this is not a great option with privacy in mind, or for functionality.
The equivalent to Safari for the Windows operating system is Microsoft’s Edge.
It has similar drawbacks to Safari: not open source and no access to the Chrome Web Store which means less customizability for themes and extensions.
The default search engine is Bing, which is awful for privacy, and is worse in functionality than Google.
Even subjectively speaking this is a bad looking browser.
There is no reason to use this browser whatsoever.
Opera is most common for its multitasking abilities with the customizable sidebar within the browser.
Opera is one of the oldest browsers to be still developed and patched today.
Opera claims it enhances privacy. But, Opera is not open source, so you have to trust them on that.
If you are a gamer, you may know Opera GX, which is the gamer version of Opera. This could be benefitting for gamers, but in terms of privacy, for most users, we wouldn’t recommend using Opera.
Being one of the most used browsers in the world, it definitely does it’s job as a web browser.
However, it doesn’t do privacy right.
Though it can be rather solid for protection, it requires a lot of work to get to.
It’s not as good for practical everyday use like Chrome and doesn’t have the easy and solid privacy features like the ones after this. Overall just a mediocre browser. But, it does look great. If this browser’s looks is something you can’t let go of, maybe that can be justification for using this. But other than that, the next options are something you should look into.
This is by far the best browser for the person who wants privacy but wants the least work to get there.
It ticks all the basic boxes for privacy features.
- It’s open source, meaning the code that makes up this browser is viewable by the public. There can not be any shady things behind the scenes as people can pick up on anything that they’re trying to do.
- Blocks cookies, preventing cross site tracking by websites.
- Tor relaying on incognito mode (explained later in the post)
The privacy features are more than enough for everyday use by a normal person.
On top of all this, it’s arguably better than Chrome for functionality and convenience for the user:
- An Ad-blocker is built in by default
- Faster load times from not needing to load ads
- Unlike other popular browsers, it has access to the Chrome Web Store, meaning it has access to the largest library of themes and extensions
Also, since this is the most popular privacy focused Chrome alternative, there are many documents, sites, videos and such to help you with any trouble with the browser. On top of all of this, the browser is based on Chrome. The overall appearance and placement of buttons are the same, making for a smooth and easy transition for current Chrome users A.K.A. the majority of internet users.
Last but definitely not least is this browser originally made by the U.S. Navy for anonymous communication. It’s the most popular amongst the hardcore privacy focused users.
The technical aspects of the reason this is safe is described can easily be found online. But to simplify, it sends data from you, and data to you, through multiple checkpoints called nodes, each one acting like a computer. This means that it’s hard to track down who is actually the original sender/receiver of the data. On top of that, each checkpoint encrypts the data, making it practically impossible to crack, even if someone were to track down the original sender and receiver.
Though it has great privacy features, it is most definitely overkill for the average user just trying to do everyday tasks, as the privacy features can at times make it difficult to do those. Even the authors almost never use the browser. As a general rule of thumb, the more privacy there is, the slower things become and less features it has access to.
Brave. If there were to be one recommendation for everybody to have a more privacy focused life it would be Brave. It’s easy to transition to, use, and has good enough privacy features that don’t get in the way of getting things done, which is the point of using a browser.
Tor can be good if you would like to be extra cautious about your online footprint.
Safari and Firefox might be an option for those who love their looks.
Chrome if you don’t want to stand out.
But it really is a no brainer to get started with improving your digital privacy with Brave. It’s very easy to transition over, and the time taken to transition over is quickly regained just by using it. They have a running count of how much time has been saved from not loading and seeing ads. At the time of writing, after 1.5 years of heavy usage, the author has saved roughly 20 hours across all devices.