What is the most secure browser for privacy in 2023: Top 10 from AdGuard
Most people have a favorite browser that they use every day. Although most browsers offer similar features, some browsers are more secure and private compared to others. That’s why it’s important to choose the most secure browser if you want to protect your online activity.
So, let’s dive in and find the best browser for privacy and anonymity in 2023.
How to choose the most secure browser
The ideal secure browser has to satisfy the following criteria:
- A secure browser should automatically block third-party trackers and digital fingerprinting and safeguard your identity at all times.
- A good security-oriented browser protects your identity while you surf the web. It should allow you to visit websites anonymously, without revealing any personal information, or information about your web browsing habits.
- A secure browser should give you the possibility to check who can access your Internet browsing records.
Must-have security features for a browser
There are several security features that are essential for any browser positioning itself as privacy-oriented. Let’s look at them:
Third-party trackers blocking. Advertisers and analytics companies are actively tracking users’ online activity, which is a huge privacy and security risk. Check that your browser blocks all third-party trackers. This way such companies will not be able to collect and store data about your online activities and interests.
Privacy-friendly search engine by default. Many browsers by default use Google Search, which collects data and tracks your location. Make sure your browser offers DuckDuckGo, StartPage, or some other privacy-friendly search engine as the default one.
Protection from malware. A secure browser should have in-built tools to protect from viruses, trojans, spyware, and adware. It should alert the user about potentially dangerous websites and block any attempts by malicious apps to get access to the system.
Automatic updates. Secure browsers should update automatically in order to be able to react in time to new vulnerabilities and security patches. This ensures that the user always benefits from the latest browser version with all the necessary security precautions.
Data encryption. A secure browser should support safe data encryption with HTTPS to protect information that's transmitted between the user and the website. It's also desirable that the browser informs the user about unsafe connections and suggests using HTTPS whenever possible.
Protection from phishing websites. Cybercriminals often create websites that look like popular ones, hoping to trick visitors into sharing their email addresses, usernames, passwords, and even credit card information. A secure browser should be equipped with tools to identify and block such phishing websites.
Privacy controls. Secure browsers should give its users full control over their privacy. They should provide ways to block user tracking, to manage cookies and other traces of online activity.
Password manager. A secure browser often provides an integrated password manager that allows to safely store and automatically enter passwords for various websites. This helps prevent reusing passwords and eases authentication process.
Ad filtering. Ads are not just irritating. Many ad banners also track users’ behavior and gather their data. Sometimes it is not even necessary to click the ad to spill some of your personal information. Those browsers that strive to be called secure often offer built-in ad blockers to combat ad tracking.
Our top 10 secure browsers for 2023
A lot of internet users don’t care much about the browser they use every day. Moreover, laptops and smartphones usually have browsers installed by default, like Safari on iOS devices and Microsoft Edge on laptops with Windows. That’s why users might think that it is automatically the best option. However, you can select from a wide range of other browsers if you want to find the best browser for your privacy and your needs. Let's take a look at our top 10 most secure browsers.
Tor is famous around the world as one of the most secure browsers. However, using Tor has its own cons, not just pros. Let’s look closer at this browser and outline the main security features of Tor:
- Hides IP address. When you use Tor, all your online activity by default gets transmitted through three random nodes of the Tor network, and thus changes your current IP address. Although it is possible to change the country of the destination host, Tor does not recommend using this option in order not to compromise privacy and anonymity.
- Uses onion routing. Tor encrypts your connection thrice so no one who might have access to your online activity can monitor what you are doing online.
- Deletes browsing history. Tor deletes all your web browsing activity, cookies, and data once you finish a session and close a tab.
- Protects from fingerprinting. Tor browser prevents fingerprinting so no one can identify you based on information about your browser and the characteristics of your device.
Among the main cons of using Tor is that it significantly reduces connection speed as data has to travel a longer way to reach the destination point. That’s why it might be unsuitable for downloading large files, streaming videos, or playing online games. In addition, Tor is often associated with suspicious activity because only with Tor it’s possible to get access to DarkNet.
Firefox is an open-source project. This means that browser’s code has been fully reviewed by the community and Firefox users can be sure that no shady widgets are hidden there. The browser provides many useful privacy and security features, among them are the following:
- Anti-fingerprinting protection. Firefox protects you from websites that might record characteristics of your browser and device. Otherwise this data might be used to identify you.
- Total cookie protection enabled by default. Cookies are widely used to make it easier to log into websites and preserve user settings. Blocking all third-party cookies would break some websites’ functionality, like automatic sign-in on services like Google or Facebook. That’s why Firefox doesn’t block all third-party cookies, only those which are identified like trackers.
- Phishing and malware protection. Firefox alerts you if you visit a malicious website, website that contains phishing pages, or website with unwanted software.
- HTTPS-Only mode. This mode forces all connections to websites to use an encrypted HTTPS.
- Tracking protection. This useful option protects your privacy by default when you browse. It does not only block trackers which gather information about your online activity, but also protects you from different harmful scripts.
Ungoogled Chromium is an open source software designed to emulate Google Chrome but without any dependencies on Google web services. Chromium lies at the foundation of many different browsers. Among them is not only Google Chrome, but also such browsers as Opera and Brave. Even Microsoft Edge switched to Chromium from the EdgeHTML engine in 2020.
Ungoogled Chromium browser offers good security and privacy with following key features:
- Google voice assistant also known as “Ok Google” feature is disabled.
- Google host detector, Google URL tracker, Google cloud messaging are all disabled.
- Any internal requests during runtime to Google are blocked.
- All pop-ups open in new tabs, not new windows as it generally works in other browsers.
- Automatic formatting of URLs in Omnibox is disabled. As a result you see the full address without hiding the http:// part.
- Signing in with Google is not available. This allows the browser to keep interaction with Google services at a minimum.
- Search and the autocomplete feature in the Omnibox are disabled unless you turn them back on. The address bar will only work for URLs.
Epic browser operates with the Chromium codebase and has a similar interface to Google's Chrome browser. Epic protects users’ privacy with:
- Ads and trackers blocking. Epic blocks ads, malvertising, trackers, fingerprinting scripts, third-party cookies, crypto mining scripts, and so on. At the same time, the browser keeps local storage of HTML5 data and first-party cookies ‘as is’ to maintain websites functionality. Epic advises to close your browser regularly to delete this data, however.
- No collecting or selling of users’ data. The browser doesn’t reveal information about you and your web browsing habits. It also prevents the websites from monitoring you.
- Deleting browsing activity after each session. The browser automatically deletes all your data after you end your session and close the browser. Also, Epic doesn’t log any users’ browsing activity.
- Encrypted proxy. Epic browser hides your IP address and encrypts your browsing thanks to free built-in VPN with servers in eight countries. DNS requests are also routed through the encrypted proxy. Thanks to this feature, you can bypass geo-blocking and be sure that ISP, advertisers, and marketers won’t have access to your browsing.
- Epic supports only a limited set of trusted add-ons. While limiting users’ choice, this measure also greatly reduces the risk of installing a malware-ridden or otherwise dangerous extension.
Although, even if Epic provides VPN-like functionality, it doesn’t replace a trustworthy VPN service. Built-in free VPN will protect only traffic from the browser, contrary to a system-wide VPN app.
Brave is a relatively new open-source browser that was released in 2019. Brave has a small market share, but nevertheless, this browser offers a lot of useful secure options, not available in other browsers. Among them are the following:
- Protection from tracking by default. Brave protects users from third-party, ad tracking, and cross-site cookies.
- Fingerprinting protection.
- Phishing protection. Brave warns you if the website you’re trying to visit contains phishing or malware.
- Limiting the time of Java-script storage to one week.
- A built-in password manager.
- Private browsing that works similarly to the Tor browser.
- Forcing all connections through HTTPS.
The fact that Brave is a Chromium-based browser raises some concerns about data being shared between the browser and Google's servers.
Although the browser is less popular and less actively developed than other browsers, it has a good level of security. Let's look at the main security options of the browser:
- Option to set up a different search engine. Vivaldi users can select the default search engine for different browsing modes (regular and private), and set different security options for them.
- Idle API disabled automatically. This means that websites cannot request API permission. As a result, you are protected from behavioral tracking.
- Built-in ad-blocker and translator that works with 108 languages.
- Protection from third-party cookie tracking, phishing, and malware-infected websites.
Vivaldi claims it does not collect any user data, but the browser transmits some metadata to Vivaldi servers every 24 hours. The company said that they need this data to count the number of active users and analyze their geographical location.
Probably you know the search engine DuckDuckGo, which is famous for its private search, data encryption, and third-party trackers blocking. DuckDuckGo launched a browser that is available for mobile devices and desktops. It has a simple interface and some fun features such as a rhyme generator, or loan calculators. However, its security features are more important for the purposes of this article. Let’s look at them:
- DuckDuckGo’s private search engine is set by default. This means the browser doesn’t track you or gather information about your online activity. But it also means that search results you see might differ from what you’d get with Google Search or other familiar search engines.
- Protection from ad trackers. Also, the browser shows you how many trackers have been blocked while you visit websites.
- Built-in option for saving passwords. A useful and convenient way to store your passwords.
- Email protection, which stops hidden trackers in emails.
- Browsing history is automatically deleted after you end the session.
This browser shows ads, which is one of its main cons, but they are not personalized.
Experts say that FreeNet is the best alternative to the Tor browser. Like Tor, it also uses a decentralized peer-to-peer network. This means that data passes through a series of nodes, which makes it difficult to trace the origin of internet traffic.
The browser can also help a lot if you need to anonymously share large files.
Also, the browser has two modes – opennet and darknet. Opennet works similarly to a normal browser, where you can connect to other Freenet users. The darknet allows you to limit users with whom you want to communicate, for example to only your family or friends.
Although FreeNet provides a high level of privacy, it might be inconvenient for daily use. Firstly, with Freenet you can get access only to Freesites hosted on the Freenet network. Secondly, the browser slows down connection speed due to the several layers of encryption.
This is an open-source independent custom version of Firefox browser. LibreWolf is focused on privacy and provides its users with the following useful options:
- uBlock Origin ad blocker is installed by default.
- The possibility to choose a search engine from among the most private ones, such as DuckDuckGo or Qwant.
- Form auto filling is disabled.
- Protection from fingerprinting with RFP technology, which is known as the most effective anti-fingerprinting solution.
- Protection from tracking by blocking all cookies.
Despite its good privacy features, including forced HTTPS and IP address protection, LibreWolf might not be a browser for everyone. All popular streaming services nowadays use DRM technology, which LibreWolf does not support. This means that if you make it your browser of choice, you will largely be unable to watch videos or listen to music.
Pale Moon is an open-source project with an active community of developers and users who are committed to making sure the project stays alive and updated. Security features of PaleMoon:
- The browser doesn’t use telemetry or data collection.
- A unique permissions manager allows users to create permissions for every unique domain you’re visiting, for example, store passwords, load images, allow or block pop-ups, share location, and so on.
- Synchronization between Pale Moon browser instances using an email and password.
- The browser has its own extensions and plugins website, which is independent of the web store for Chromium-powered browsers and the Mozilla add-ons website.
However, some modern features are missing, for example, it doesn't have an in-browser PDF reader, doesn't support in-browser DRM software for videos and music, and also doesn’t have mobile or macOS versions.
Why should I care about my security and privacy?
No one gets online privacy and security by default, but everyone can improve it on their own. When you are not careful in the digital world, your ISP, advertisers, governments, and different third-party companies will monitor your online activities, gather and sell information about you and your online habits.
Among ways to protect yourself from such a scenario is to stop relying on browsers you use out of habit and shift to another, more secure browser and trustworthy VPN service.
How does AdGuard help to protect my online security ?
Even if you managed to find the answer to the tough question “What is the most secure browser,” you still aren’t in the clear. Even the best browser can’t alone protect your personal information, online identity, and browsing activity. One of the other essential pieces of the puzzle is VPN.
Advantages of using AdGuard VPN:
In-house developed VPN protocol. AdGuard VPN avoids ready-made solutions and uses its unique protocol, which is faster and less detectable.
Website exclusions. With AdGuard VPN, you can choose on which websites you want your VPN to be active or turned off.
App exclusions. Known as “Split tunneling”, this is a feature similar to the previous one. Basically this is an exclusions list, but for apps rather than websites.
DNS server of your choice. AdGuard VPN users do not need to use the DNS server provided by their ISP. They can choose a DNS server from the list of known providers or configure their own DNS server.
Locations with the highest speeds. AdGuard VPN displays ping times for every server location. In general, the server with the lowest ping is the fastest one.
VPN servers in 40+ countries. With a variety of VPN servers to choose from, you can be sure that your connection will stay stable and fast wherever you are.
QUIC support. Thanks to the QUIC protocol, AdGuard VPN provides a better connection quality in non-ideal conditions: for instance, when you're connected via a mobile network.
Kill Switch. It’s an important VPN feature which automatically disconnects you from the Internet when your connection is suddenly lost.
Auto-protection. This option automatically turns AdGuard VPN on when you connect to unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
Simultaneous connections. Users of AdGuard VPN Unlimited can simultaneously connect to the VPN up to 10 devices. Free users are limited to 2 connected devices at any given time, and the number of simultaneously logged in devices is uncapped for all users.
Strict no-logging policy. AdGuard is a privacy-oriented company that does not record or keep users’ activity logs.
What is a secure web browser?
A secure browser is a browser with additional features for higher privacy, anonymity, and security online. Among common useful options are blocking of third-party cookies and protection from things such as tracking, fingerprinting, and malicious software. In addition, they don’t store and share information about you and your online activity.
Why is online security so important?
Unfortunately, nowadays it’s impossible to imagine the Internet without surveillance and sharing users’ data. Advertisers, marketers, your ISP, and different third-party companies collect, buy, and sell data about your browsing activity for various purposes. The good news is that you can enhance your privacy and browse more safely with a secure browser and VPN.