2020’s 7 Most Secure Browsers Compared
It’s 2020, the internet is ALIVE, and you want to browse its worldly goodness. But you also know that being 2020, there is the potential for phishing attacks, malware, fake news, misinformation, and much more.
So, how do you stay safe online? The first thing to consider is your internet browser. There are many browser options, but which is the safest internet browser in 2020?
Here are 2020’s most secure browsers.
Security vs. Privacy in Internet Browsers
The following list has a strong focus on secure internet browsers. Hand in hand with security is privacy, something many people strive towards but find difficult in the online world. Your browser plays a key role in your privacy, as well as your online security.
Can you separate security from privacy?
For this article looking at the most secure browsers of 2020, we are going to talk about both features. As you’ll see, some browsers provide excellent internet security but are lackadaisical regarding your privacy.
1. Mozilla Firefox
Mozilla Firefox is a very popular secure browser that regularly beats out its other top-tier browser competitors for security and privacy.
First up, Firefox is the only major open-source browser. This alone sets it apart from the major browsers in terms of accountability. Adding to that, the development of Firefox takes direction from the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Mozilla Foundation also directs the development of the Thunderbird email client.
Firefox features an extensive set of security features. It advises users that the browser provides “strong privacy protection from the moment you install,” but there are more privacy and security options available.
For example, Firefox blocks cross-site tracking cookies as default, stopping social media and other trackers following you around the internet and building a user profile. You can also use the integrated tracking protections to view which sites and trackers are attempting to follow you.
Furthermore, there are numerous excellent security and privacy extensions available as Firefox Add-Ons.
Another excellent Firefox security and privacy feature is DNS-over-HTTPS, which encrypts your domain name searches before sending them over the internet. DNS-over-HTTPS was once the sole reserve of third-party DNS providers. Still, browsers like Firefox are making the technology and the security it affords easier for regular users to access.
Although Firefox doesn’t receive as many updates as some of the alternatives, it remains a very secure browser that actively encourages user privacy, and believes that “Privacy shouldn’t be relegated to optional settings.”
Good: Open source, extensive privacy features, tracker blocking as standard, Facebook container, highly customizable.
Bad: At times, the lack of in-house testing holds features and releases back, lack of funding could cause Firefox to cease development.
Download: Mozilla Firefox for Windows, macOS, Linux | Android | iOS
2. Tor Browser
What list of secure browsers would be complete without Tor Browser? None, that’s the answer. Tor Browser is a modified Mozilla Firefox browser that comes with extra functions allowing users to browse the dark web.
The extra functions come in the form of extensions such as NoScript, HTTPS Everywhere, the TorButton, and TorLauncher, all of which are required to use the dark web safely. The setup of Tor Browser (and the content it allows access to) is usually seen as a major downside to its use. While access to nefarious content is, without doubt, a concern, Tor Browser has other issues.
Mostly, Tor Browser isn’t very useful as a daily driver for your internet browsing. Sure, it keeps you anonymous as you surf the regular internet, but due to extensive privacy settings, it also breaks a lot of stuff in the process. While the situation is much better than in the past, many websites won’t work.
Now, you can also argue that those websites shouldn’t use so much invasive tracking. I would agree with you. But reducing the amount of privacy Tor Browser provides to browse the regular internet also makes it much more dangerous to browse the dark web.
In that, Tor Browser is best suited to that purpose or for moments where you require extensive privacy as other secure browser options don’t make browsing the internet a chore.
Good: Integrated privacy features, open-source, and frequent updates.
Bad: Breaks websites potential for malicious exit nodes; painfully slow at times due to network configuration.
Download: Tor Browser for Windows, macOS, Linux | Android
I should also add that access to the dark web is both good and bad, depending on your take. Unsure what to think? Check our dark web explainer for everything you need to know.
3. Epic Privacy Browser
Epic Privacy Browser is a Chromium-based internet browser with a very strong focus on security and privacy.
Out of the box, the Epic Privacy Browser blocks a huge amount of advertising trackers and background scripts, drastically increasing your security and privacy. The script blocking ensures that malvertising and cryptocurrency mining scripts will fail to run. There’s also the integrated anti-fingerprinting, again protecting your privacy.
Meanwhile, Epic’s one-click encrypted proxy hides your IP address and routes your traffic securely.
Epic blocks the majority of browser extensions and add-ons. Although Epic is Chromium-based and could allow access to the extensive catalog of Chrome extensions, the developers believe this creates unnecessary risk. Extensions can come with security issues, create vulnerabilities, and, most of all, breach your privacy (for example, some extensions will reveal your IP address even while using other privacy features).
One issue is the update frequency of Epic in comparison to other secure browser options. At the time of writing, Epic uses the Chromium 80.2.3988 build, which was released sometime in February 2020. The latest version is actually 83.x, while version 84.x is close to release.
Good: Great privacy out of the box, extensive privacy options, blocks the majority of extensions and add-ons, and deletes all session data when you close the browser.
Bad: Sometimes falls considerably behind with updates; integrated privacy features don’t always work. Epic also provides a false sense of security.
Download: Epic Privacy Browser for Windows, macOS | Android | iOS
If you prefer Chromium-based browsers like Epic, check out the best Chromium-based browser alternatives.
4. Comodo IceDragon
Comodo IceDragon is a secure browser developed by security company, Comodo. The IceDragon browser is based upon Mozilla Firefox, so it carries a lot of the same security features as the main browser.
Comodo IceDragon integrates other Comodo security features. For example, Comodo’s SiteInspector tool scans for malware and other vulnerabilities before visiting the webpage. There is also the option to use Comodo Secure DNS to load webpages faster as well as decrease the chance of loading a malicious page. The Comodo Domain Validation double-checks website SSL certificates.
Another plus is that you can use the full array of Firefox’s extensions with Comodo IceDragon. This means you can extend the security and privacy functionality of the browser using tried and tested add-ons.
Good: Based on Firefox, access to Firefox extensions, integrated Comodo security features.
Bad: Infrequent updates, based on an older version of Firefox.
Dooble is a unique entry on this list: it is powered by neither Chromium nor Firefox. Instead, Dooble is an independent development, which is impressive.
The browser receives frequent security and feature updates, too. Interestingly, you can also use Dooble as an FTP client to transfer files to a server or otherwise. Dooble also features on our list of the best open-source browsers, which is worth checking out for other browser options.
Good: Open source, free from Google and other development influence, lightweight, and fast.
Bad: Can feel outdated in comparison to other modern browsers; difficult to find add-ons. Has a very small userbase which means easy identification.
Download: Dooble for Windows, macOS, Linux
Vivaldi is a free secure browser based on Chromium. Vivaldi aims to replicate some of the features users felt were lost when the Opera browser switched to a Chromium-based development model. While Vivaldi is also Chromium-based, it includes numerous modifications to replicate the older style of Opera.
Vivaldi is considered a very secure internet browser. It receives frequent updates, keeping it in line with the main Chromium releases, which is important for user security. The browser protects against phishing sites and malware and will prevent you from downloading files from a malicious site. Another cool feature is the encrypted bookmarks and passwords, which you can sync between your devices.
Furthermore, recent updates to Vivaldi have introduced better script and tracker blocking, although these features are somewhat lacking in the fine detail you find with alternative browsers.
Good: Frequent updates, access to Chrome extensions and add-ons, easy to use, highly customizable, with great tab management options.
Bad: Closed-source. Meanwhile the tiny market share makes users with the Vivaldi browser easy to identify without a VPN. Performance issues at times especially with resource-heavy tabs.
Download: Vivaldi for Windows, macOS, Linux | Android
7. Google Chrome
Google Chrome consistently features on lists of the most secure browsers. Now, some will take issue with the idea that Google Chrome is secure. That’s because while Chrome works well to keep attackers and other intruders at bay—but is also very lax on personal privacy.
Chrome has regular updates, performs well in hacking tests, comes with integrated security features, and has won the “Most Secure Browser” section at the annual Pwn2Own hacking competition on multiple occasions (as well as other security awards).
Still, Google Chrome’s privacy intrusions and data-hoovering practices are well known at this point. It should come as no surprise that the browser developed by a company whose primary income source is advertising would use the opportunity to collect data.
That’s why as good as Chrome is on actual security, it scores poorly for privacy. Of course, you can add privacy-focused Chrome extensions to increase your privacy. Some of these extensions also increase your security, too. But when there are equally secure options that come with better privacy features, Chrome shouldn’t become your automatic choice.
Good: Award-winning security, frequent updates, invites outsiders to stress check browser, and extensions make browser more secure.
Bad: Major privacy issues, browser extensions can cause security issues, closed-source code (based on open source project, Chromium), and as many have found out, very resource hungry and prone to hanging.
Are Lesser-Known Browsers Secure?
In a world where privacy and security are vital, finding the most secure browser is difficult. As you can see, you have to make compromises, choosing between security, privacy, and functionality. Mozilla Firefox ticks all three boxes and is one of the most secure browser options in 2020.
There are many alternative browsers out there. The major issue facing these browser alternatives is funding. How can you attract enough users to warrant continuing development without succumbing to some form of privacy-invading technology, or before update frequency creates a serious security issue?
Even if you don’t trust Google, Chrome receives frequent updates and is generally secure. But those Chromium-based browsers take longer to implement security features and updates, potentially leaving you exposed. The same issues are apparent for those using Firefox as a starting point, too.
So, yes, lesser-known browsers can absolutely be secure. But before committing to one, make sure to check the version history, update frequency, and the overall reputation of the browser.
Another thing to consider is speed. Have you ever wondered why some browsers are faster than others?
Read the full article: 2020’s 7 Most Secure Browsers Compared