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The most private web browsersBrowsers are our portal to everything we do online. How can we use them securely and privately?
Most of us can’t remember the last time we went 24 hours without using the internet. Through the portals created by web browsers, we search for new restaurants in our area, hotels we want to stay at, and the latest news from around the globe.In short, we use the internet to find out all the information we need in the course of our daily lives - and, today, we ingest an incredible amount of information. We constantly use browsers - Google Chrome, Firefox, and previously Internet Explorer - yet, most of us never stop to think about how private and secure these browsers really are.Since we search the internet for all types of information, log into our most important accounts through web browsers, and use browsers as communication and collaboration tools, it is of the utmost importance that the browsers we use respect our privacy.In this piece, we will share more about the most private web browsers currently in the market that you can use for safe, secure, and free internet use.
Top private web browsers
MozillaFirefoxFirefox is a free and open-source web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation. Firefox has a storied reputation as a reliable and secure browser since its founding in 2002. While Brave (see more below) and Firefox share many of the same privacy features you would expect in a privacy-respecting browser, one big difference is the fact that Firefox is run as a not-for-profit organization while Brave is a for-profit organization. (However, note that Brave does not make any money from selling or collecting your personal data, in contrast to big tech giants Google and Facebook.)In 2017 Firefox rebuilt their entire browser engine so that Firefox would be comparable in speed and efficiency to other browsers in the market like Google Chrome and Safari. Firefox also has a vibrant developer community which allows you maximum customization with thousands of browser extensions and add-ons available. One thing to note about Firefox is their default search engine is Google, but this can easily be changed in settings to more privacy focused search engines like DuckDuckGo (more on this below) or Neeva.To download Firefox on all platforms including macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and Windows, visit the MozillaFirefox website here: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/
DuckDuckGoDuckDuckGo started off as a private search engine which eschews user data collection and emphasizes top-notch security features and privacy protections. DuckDuckGo prevents trackers, pop-ups, and third-party cookies from tracking you while you use DuckDuckGo’s search engine. DuckDuckGo has one of the best browsers currently available on iOS and Android and is currently developing their own desktop browser which they aim to make one of the most secure browsers available in the market. DuckDuckGo is a great choice for those who want a privacy-focused browsing experience. Your ip address is never tracked in DuckDuckGo and an ad-blocker is default enabled for maximum browser security.You can download DuckDuckGo here: https://duckduckgo.com/
SafariSafari is the default browser available on all Apple devices and one of the most popular browsers in the world. In recent years Apple has worked to improve the privacy functionality of Safari. Additions such as better tracking protections, anti-malware features to stifle hackers has pushed Safari closer to being a private browser than other big tech browsers like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. Safari even works to prevent browser fingerprinting, a method used to track users online activities across the internet. While Safari does store your cookies and browsing history by default, you can search in a private browsing mode which will ensure your web browsing history will not be stored on your device. Safari is also very customizable with lots of extensions available for download.While Safari is not as purely and completely focused on online privacy as some of the other web browsers on this list, it is still a respectable choice to shore up vulnerabilities and protect your personal data from web pages, social media sites, and hackers who are trying to collect and sell your data.Safari comes pre-installed on all iPhone, iOS, and Mac devices. You can also install Safari on many non Apple devices as well.
OperaOpera is another chromium based browser which includes by default a built-in ad-blocker, free VPN, messaging functionality, and over 2,500 customizable browser extensions. Opera claims you can browse the web longer than any of its major competitors because Opera uses less resources in general and offers users privacy features, like an ad-blocker that optimizes Opera’s performance. If you are not satisfied with Opera’s default browser and are looking for an upgrade, Opera also offers specialized browsers for Cryptocurrencies (Opera Crypto Browser), Gaming (Opera GX), and minimum data usage (Opera Mini)Opera is available on most operating systems including Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. Check out their website here: https://www.opera.com/
VivaldiVivaldi was founded in 2016 by one of the co-founders of Opera, so the team behind Vivaldi has tons of experience building browsers with great privacy settings and features. Vivaldi is designed for technical users and customization first in mind. Vivaldi has tons of great plugins as well as internal settings that let users create and experience a truly personalized browser experience. From custom keyboard shortcuts to expert tab management there is something for everyone with Vivaldi. Some of the great built-in privacy features available include tracking protection, pop-up blocker, secure mobile sync, ad blocker, and a private calendar.You can download Vivaldi here: https://vivaldi.com/
Tor BrowserThe Tor Browser is a web browser that uses something called the Tor Network to anonymize users web traffic across the internet. The Tor Browser makes it impossible for your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and other third parties to track your online activities, regardless of whether you are on WiFi or using some other form of internet connection. The Tor Browser was founded and is maintained by the Tor Project. The Tor Project is a nonprofit, and thus runs the Tor Browser without any profit motive.While the Tor browser provides one of the most private and anonymized web browsing experiences available, it comes with the drawback of being slower than its rivals when it comes to browsing the internet.
What about incognito mode?When most us think about private browsing, we think about using incognito mode. The question is: How secure is our browsing really when we are in incognito mode?The answer is: Not as much as you think. While incognito mode deletes all information associated with a website visit or search when you close your tab or window, it does nothing to prevent the websites you are visiting from gaining information about you from using things, like trackers. Your browsing history might be protected in incognito mode but you should still be careful about what you are looking at through your search engine of choice.
ConclusionNo matter which browser you end up using, it is always important to keep your online information and data as secure as possible. One way of doing this besides using a privacy-focused web browser is using a product like Skiff.Skiff is dedicated to making privacy-first and end-to-end encrypted products more accessible and user-friendly. This is why Skiff has built a comprehensive privacy-first, end-to-end encrypted, and Web3-native platform.Skiff Mail empowers users to communicate privately and confidently with an end-to-end encrypted, secure, and private email address, allowing for the most comprehensive and efficient wallet to wallet communication available.Skiff Pages lets users write and store sensitive information that can be easily shared with collaborators, without ever breaking client-side encryption. Users also have the option to store their pages on the InterPlanetary File System for a decentralized experience.Skiff Drive enables users to store all their files, regardless of file type, on a privacy first, end-to-end encrypted platform. These files can be easily accessed, downloaded and, retrieved. All your files are encrypted on your device, and, if you choose stored on IPFS; all files remain end-to-end encrypted and censorship resistant.
Web Browser Privacy Appendix and GlossaryTracking Cookies: Tracking cookies are pieces of information that are stored on your computer by websites that you visit. They are used to track your online activity and can be used to store information such as login details, website preferences and shopping basket contents. Tracking cookies can be placed on your computer by advertising networks in order to deliver targeted ads. They can also be used by website owners to track how you use their site and to see which pages you visit most often.Ad Blocker: Ad blockers are software programs that prevent tracking cookies from being placed on your computer. They can also block other types of online advertising, such as banner ads and pop-ups. Ad blockers can make it harder for website owners to track your activity and can make it more difficult for advertising networks to deliver targeted ads. Some ad blockers also block content that you may want to see, such as videos or articles.Tor Network: The Tor Network is a system that allows users to browse the internet anonymously. It does this by routing traffic through a series of volunteer-run servers, which makes it hard for anyone to track where the traffic is coming from or going to. The Tor Network is often used by people who want to avoid being tracked online, or who want to access websites that are blocked by their government or ISP.Chromium based browsers: Chromium-based browsers are web browsers that use the open-source Chromium web browser engine. This engine is also used by Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and a number of other browsers. Chromium-based browsers tend to be privacy-conscious when compared other browsers, as they can be modified and optimized or allow users to install ad blockers and other privacy-enhancing extensions. They also tend to have built-in features that make it harder for websites to track your activity, such as fingerprinting protection.VPN: A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a private network tunnel that encrypts and transmits netork traffic while it travels from your computer place to the internet. A VPN allows users to securely access a private network, or to browse remotely and privately through public networks. A VPN service is essential for anyone who wants to keep their online activity private and secure.ISP: An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company that provides internet access to individuals and businesses. The ISP provides the customer with a modem and an internet connection, and the customer pays a monthly fee for access to the internet.
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