April 21, 2022

Best Browsers for Privacy: Secure Web Browsing 

A privacy browser functions by automatically erasing your browsing and search history and cookies. It also modifies web tracking, and some even help conceal your location (IP address).

If you are conscious of your online privacy, you should establish a privacy browser or an extension.

An Incognito Window doesn’t conceal your IP address if you’re using Chrome. It simply doesn’t store your browser history, the information you’ve documented into forms, or what permissions you’ve provided to sites you’ve visited.

Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Opera all employ a similar “anonymous” web window for browsing, but they aren’t genuinely hiding your online identity. If you desire to block your IP address from being viewed or tracked, you can download a VPN, which hides your IP address so your service provider (or anyone else, for that matter) can’t see what you’re doing.

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You are putting your personal or contact information on your social media. If you have your full name, address, phone number, or place of work anywhere on your social media, someone can employ it to wreak havoc on your accounts. To control this, avoid using your real name online, turn off location tracking, and don’t post about your work location if you can assist it.

Significant changes are afoot in the ad-sponsored web, and the browser has evolved as a critical battleground for end-user privacy. While Chrome is the most widely accustomed browser globally, there are alternative browsers and ways to improve your privacy when using Chrome.

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Unfortunately, according to Dr. Lukasz Olejnik, an independent privacy researcher and consultant, there’s no easy way to ensure total privacy through browsers. They led a large-scale study in 2009-2011 that found online ad companies can use web browsing histories to individual fingerprint browsers over time.

Google’s and Facebook’s closer grip on online advertising makes the exercise of re-identification through browsing records an even more pressing privacy issue today.

Google’s FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) replacement for third-party cookies that Google intends to block in 2022 is being trialed with Chrome users in the US and other demands except for Europe, where Google lately admitted FLoC might not be consistent with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

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Brave

brave

Brave, a Chromium-based browser, can default block ads, fingerprinting, and ad trackers. Brave in January advised it had given 50 million monthly active users, which is always a fraction of Chrome’s 3.3 billion users over desktop and mobile.

Brave’s business model depends on privacy-protecting ads that can spend publishers and users with Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) while users pay attention to ads. It also lately acquired Tailcat to launch Brave Search so that it can deliver a privacy-focused option to Google Chrome and Google Search. 

The Chromium-based browser is steered by Brendan Eich, a vital creator of the JavaScript programming language and a co-founder of Firefox and Mozilla.

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Brave’s privacy record isn’t original. For example, Eich 2020 apologized to customers after being caught sharing default autocomplete answers with an affiliate cryptocurrency exchange.

Brave has released a ton of Google code from its version of Chromium to enhance user privacy and has also come out tough against Google’s FLoC ID proposal, which is starting to cruise out to Chrome users but will not be allowed in Brave. 

Brave has many privacy-enhancing settings with possibilities to block third-party ad trackers, a toggle for upgrading unsecured links to HTTPS, cookie blocking, and fingerprinting blocking. Users can modify these in Settings in the Shields and Privacy and security sections.    

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ProsCons
Chromium challenger, Privacy-focused by default, Not in traditional online ad business, A fast experienceNo apparent negatives, but issues in the past show it is not perfect

Mozilla Firefox

mozilla-firefox

Chrome’s security and patching drive it the most secure browser known today, but Olejnik rates Mozilla Firefox as the best package when looking solely at privacy. So, Firefox is a must-have for utilizing a multi-browser strategy to enhance privacy.

One of Firefox’s most significant privacy features is Enhanced Tracking Protection. Mozilla has borrowed Tor techniques to stop browser fingerprinting. Despite its declining monthly active user numbers, Firefox developers constantly quest to enhance tracking-prevention features, such as its assignment on browser data storage. It can be used for tracking users over the web, which goes beyond just reserved cookies and targets multiple caches. 

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Firefox is affluent with choices to customize the browser for privacy by indexing: preferences #privacy in the address bar. The “standard” Enhanced Tracking Prevention deterrents cross-site tracking cookies, social media trackers and blocks tracking in private windows, crypto miners, and fingerprinting scripts. There is also a “strict” mode that might break some sites, but there are methods to whitelist Enhanced Tracking Protection for trusted sites. And for those with the time, Mozilla furnishes a way to customize the privacy feature.   

The other alternative for Firefox fans is Firefox Focus, a privacy-focused browser for iOS and Android that intercepts ad trackers and holds a built-in ad blocker.   

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ProsCons
Firefox has financed a lot into Enhanced Tracking Prevention, No interest in benefiting from online adsDespite a significant overhaul, Firefox is still losing users, Mozilla is making its read-it-later service Pocket through Firefox

DuckDuckGo

duckduckgo

DuckDuckGo is a vocal supporter of consumers’ privacy rights and, in January, hit a milestone of reaching 100 million user search questions in a day.

DuckDuckGo and the height of encrypted messaging app Signal show a growing appetite for privacy-focused alternatives to tech giants like Facebook and Google. It is a privacy-focused search engine. Still, DuckDuckGo’s daily search numbers are little compared to Google’s five billion daily search queries.

DuckDuckGo’s Privacy Essentials extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Microsoft’s new Edge has been installed by four million Chrome users. Its reputation is built on the idea that it does not collect user data but can deliver the same search results as those containing user data.

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The DuckDuckGo extension was also fast to block Google’s FLoC fingerprinting identifier. 

And the company is a founding partner of the Global Privacy Control (GPC) standard as an answer to consumer privacy protections underneath the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

ProsCons
Supported on Chromium-based browsers, Chrome, and Firefox, DuckDuckGo seems to have a solid commitment to user privacy, If you don’t like FLoC, it precludes it automaticallyIt’s a software extension, which creates another avenue for security flaws to creep in.

Microsoft Edge

browsers for privacy
browsers for privacy

Based on Google’s Chromium project, Microsoft Edge is now available for Windows 10 and above, macOS, and  Linux. Microsoft has been rated the worst browser for privacy by Professor Leith because of how often it shipped identifiers, including IP address and location data, to Microsoft servers — even more, alarming than Google Chrome.

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Microsoft revealed its collection does include information about websites visited but said this information is not utilized to track users browsing history or URLs tied explicitly to the user. Nevertheless, windows ten telemetry data collection offers Microsoft can be uncomfortable with privacy despite Microsoft president Brad Smith’s moral ideas on using facial recognition in public arenas.

Microsoft also includes an interesting take on Google’s FLoC. It is developing its alternative to FLoC called PARAKEET, which has similar goals to FLoC, like retargeting browsers over time.

Microsoft has never declared to be a guardian of end-user privacy. Still, it does at least deliver a support page explaining what data Edge collects and why Microsoft collects it.

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ProsCons
It’s not Google Chrome, Edge is gaining new features rapidlyIt has a burgeoning online advertising business, Microsoft’s position on FLoC is ambiguous

NoScript Extension

noscript-extension

One example is that today Google won’t allow users who disable JavaScript to sign in to Google Accounts like Gmail and YouTube. His recommended workaround for people desiring more privacy is to install the NoScript extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Chromium-based browsers like the new Microsoft Edge. NoScript shows a more challenging way to deal with invasive scripts and malware attacks dependent on JavaScript.  

NoScript may be “quite cumbersome” since it brings time to click through to decide which websites should be allowed what.

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There are other methods users can take, too, including employing a browser other than Chrome. To this end, Olejnik suggests using several browsers for different tasks is wise. In addition, you can go to the NoScript website for more information on what precisely the extension does and access an active user community forum to propose updates, report bugs, and troubleshoot problems.

ProsCons
Freely available for Chrome, Firefox, and Chromium-based browsers, Defends against the most standard privacy and security threats on the web, Doesn’t manage your web historyA bit bulky to set up the permit list A burden to manage

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