7 Most Secure Browsers – Secure & Private Browsing
If you are at all concerned about your privacy, you’ll want to avoid these browsers and start using alternatives dedicated to protecting your information.
All our suggestions avoid carrying out any meaningful tracking of their own and implement built-in protection to combat invasive website tracking.
What are the best secure and private browsers?
After the short answer? Here’s a quick list of the best browsers for security and privacy. For more information, check out our in-depth reviews below.
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Why do I need a privacy browser?
Privacy-focused browsers help protect your personal data and browsing habits from being tracked. They can block websites from collecting sensitive information and prevent the creation of a unique fingerprint based on your browser and device characteristics. They also minimize data collection and tracking, and can offer advanced ad-blocking features.
Ultimately, the best privacy browser for you depends on your specific needs and preferences. We recommend reviewing your chosen browser’s privacy settings and ensuring it suits your needs. It’s always a good idea to customize the settings to keep your personal data private and secure.
Best private browsers: In-depth analysis
Below, we go through what makes each provider a great choice for security and privacy. For more information, click on through to each provider, or carry on reading through this article.
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Concerns with regular web browsers
Commercial browsers such as Chrome, Edge, and Safari all pose privacy concerns because of the ways in which they handle your data. For example, Google cooperated with the NSA in its PRISM mass-surveillance program.
Google has a detailed breakdown of how Chrome affects your privacy, but essentially, Chrome is just spyware for Google. Although Chrome does offer user-controlled privacy settings, they are hidden away in the browser, and users have to opt out of features that invade their privacy manually.
Want to know more? Check out our can you trust Google Chrome with your data guide.
Even with all user-controlled privacy settings locked down, there is every reason not to trust that Google won’t still try to spy on you.
This is the same for all other commercial browsers. Microsoft also collects user data, and it has been reported they also worked with the NSA, so its Edge and Internet Explorer browsers cannot be trusted.
You can learn more about protecting your privacy on Windows with our best VPN for Windows guide.
Mac users concerned about their privacy should check out our best VPNs for Mac page.
Crucially, all these popular browsers are closed-source. This means that there is no way to verify that they contain no creepy code or are otherwise not doing something they shouldn’t.
Is private browsing mode secure?
Most browsers now offer a “private browsing” or “incognito” mode which, on the surface, sounds like it’s going to give you a truly private experience. The reality is far from it. It’s important to understand what this feature is actually doing if you want to maintain your privacy online.
So what does private browsing mode do?
In short, private browsing simply means that it won’t save your history while it’s active. You are not anonymous when you use incognito mode, and third parties (such as your ISP, government, employer) can still see what you’re doing online. Incognito mode often gives users a false sense of security – thinking that no one knows what they’re doing online.
The truth, however, is that private browsing mode is simply designed to prevent anyone with direct physical access to your device (e.g. family members) from viewing your browsing history. When you use private browsing:
- Websites you visit won’t save in your browser history
- Searches aren’t saved locally
- Form data won’t be saved locally
- Cookies are deleted once the session ends
- Your private browsing sessions are isolated from regular ones
Deleting your cookies between private browsing sessions will prevent some basic tracking by websites, but the benefits of this are easily and regularly overstated. If you want to know more, check out our in-depth guide on the reality of private browsing modes.
What does private mode not do?
Basically, private mode does not make you private on the internet:
- Websites can see your unique internet protocol (IP) address.
- Websites cannot track you using cookies but can track you using browser fingerprinting, canvas fingerprinting, and various other methods.
- Your internet service provider (ISP) can see every website you visit on the internet.
- Downloaded files and bookmarks made in private mode are saved as normal.
- Keyloggers and malware installed on your system can track everything you do online.
If you want to hide birthday present shopping from your spouse on a family computer or hide your adult viewing habits on a shared laptop, private mode is great. It is, after all, often referred to as ‘porn mode’ for a reason!
What it does not do is provide any meaningful privacy (let alone anonymity) from your ISP or anyone that spies through the internet. For this, you need to use a VPN to hide your IP address, and various browser add-ons to prevent web tracking (which may or may not be bundled with the privacy browsers discussed above).
All the browsers in this list are open-source and provide much more privacy than Chrome, Edge/Internet Explorer, or Safari.
Commercial browsers are far less safe than you may realize, and incognito/private browsing modes can be anything but. If you want to get the most out of your internet experience, and ensure your privacy and security are put first, then we recommend using one of the following secure browsers with a private search engine, and a robust VPN:
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