Web browsers are simply just a piece of software that helps you navigate around the internet to your desired websites, web applications and virtually everything you might want to pull up on the internet. When a user requests to access a particular website by typing the web address on the URL bar, the web browser retrieves the necessary content from a web server and then displays the resulting web page on the user’s browser.
Web browsers know precisely what websites you have visited, how much time you spent browsing them, and links you clicked on (or was very close to clicking on). Now, anyone who manages to get access to your web browser can have a window into basically everything on your online side of life.
The real threat to online privacy during the course of browsing is a feature called cookies received from various websites which are stored by the browser. Some of these cookies contain login credentials or site information and preferences. However, others are basically used for tracking user behavior over long periods of time.
Another threat to online privacy is device fingerprinting tracking. This feature is embedded in websites and is tasked with looking at all the characteristics of your device being used to access such website (i.e. the make and model of your device, the browser you are using, plugins you have installed, what timezone you are in, etc.) until it has enough information to properly identify and follow it.
By now, it is a well-known fact that Google Chrome is the most popular web browser. Chrome alone handles over 60 percent of web traffic but unfortunately, Google Chrome doesn’t make our cut for top privacy-focused browsers. As a matter of fact, Google Chrome is not in any way secure and this is because Google actually uses Chrome as direct access to snoop into every action you take online. Chrome then further records every site you visit so Google can serve you targeted ads at any point.
Top privacy-focused browsers:
The Brave browser is an unusual kind of web browser such that it was designed to make privacy plain and simple enough for everyone. It is an open source browser built on top of the Chromium engine (an open source version of the Chrome browser), which means it’s quite easy for Chrome users to make the switch.
The good thing about Brave is that, unlike Chrome, Brave does not collect any data about your online activity and behavior. Your data remains private and saved only your device.
Brave also makes blocking trackers very cool and easy. Instead of forcing users to decide which plugins and browser extensions they should download to make them feel more secure online, Brave comes fully equipped with them. It automatically blocks all third-party cookies, and because it has HTTPS Everywhere in-built, it ensures all your connections are securely encrypted. Brave also features Fingerprinting Protection in the browser.
Brave also implemented a feature Called Brave Rewards in the Brave browser, it uses a utility token called a Basic Attention Token (BAT) and enables you to anonymously reward the websites you visit most. This was introduced to encourage websites not to rely on advertising based on tracking you around the Internet.
Tor browser has been around for quite a while and to fair, Tor is actually the best option if your utmost concern is privacy. The Tor browser is based on the Firefox engine, but it has been stripped down and specially configured to run on the Tor network.
When using Tor, your web traffic is encrypted three times and relayed between at least three Tor servers before it reaches your targetted website. The encryption is handled in such a way that each server only has access to a particular set of instructions, so no server has access to both your IP address and the website you are visiting.
With this process, it becomes even impossible for Tor to keep any records about your online activity and behavior, and every time you close your session, the browser wipes your cookie cache and browsing history. The browser itself is configured to prevent fingerprinting, and it blocks all kinds of trackers.
On a side note, the Tor browser is slower than other browsers because of the extra encryption that comes with it.
Download the Tor browser app for desktop and Android, as well as the Tor-approved open source Onion browser for iOS.
Firefox browser is the third-most-popular browser on the Internet, just behind Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari. This browser over the years has been improved massively when it comes to privacy protection by the team that developed it.