AVG Signal Blog Privacy Browser The Best Browsers for Security and Privacy in 2021
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From a security and privacy standpoint, the safest browser is one that offers a range of strong data-protection features and makes them easy to use. These secure browsers don’t track your online activity, and they’re built to prevent anyone from getting their hands on your data. 

Read on to explore the best browsers for privacy and security, or jump down immediately to learn more about why browser security is so important and which browser is best for private, secure browsing.

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    Avast Secure Browser

    Based on Google’s open-source Chromium platform, Avast Secure Browser includes a comprehensive array of built-in security and privacy tools. Anti-Phishing detection keeps you safe from malicious websites that try to steal your personal data or infect your device with malware. The robust Anti-Tracking feature prevents websites from identifying you through cookies and other web tracking methods, while advanced Anti-Fingerprinting technology disguises your device, helping you fight back against the new privacy threat of browser fingerprinting.

    Plus, the built-in Bank Mode feature protects your sensitive financial information with a secure virtual desktop. Should any of your data ever leak due to a data breach, you’ll be notified immediately. Avast Secure Browser also encrypts your data with automatic HTTPS protection, even if the website you’re visiting doesn’t offer it.

    Download free Avast Secure Browser

     

    AVG Secure Browser

    Our very own AVG Secure Browser is a custom-designed, safe web browser built by dedicated security experts to ensure your security and privacy whenever you’re online. We’ve taken Google’s open-source Chromium platform as our starting point — so you’ll be able to customize it with all your favorite Chrome extensions — and optimized it with a massive range of industry-leading security and privacy features.

    Here’s a quick look at the features you’ll get with the private and secure browsing of AVG Secure Browser:

    icon_01Block third-party tracking cookies and other web-tracking technology with the Anti-Tracking feature set.

    icon_02Obscure your device against browser fingerprinting methods and stay anonymous while browsing with advanced Anti-Fingerprinting countermeasures.

    icon_03Avoid predatory websites and scammers and prevent identity theft with Anti-Phishing protection.

    icon_04Automatically block all ads for faster browsing, or choose to block only malicious ads that can infect your device with malware.

    icon_05Create and store unique passwords for all your accounts with the built-in password manager, or install a password extension from the Chrome Web Store.

    icon_10Block suspicious third-party browser extensions with Extension Guard, which ensures that you install only trusted extensions from the Chrome Web Store.

    icon_06Protect your sensitive personal data — such as your credit card number while online shopping — with automatic HTTPS encryption on any website you visit.

    icon_07Prevent unauthorized websites and hackers from hijacking your webcam and spying on you with Webcam Guard.

    icon_08Encrypt your traffic and hide your IP address with built-in VPN integration. AVG Secure Browser for Android even gives you free VPN access within your browser.

    Install AVG Secure Browser and then go directly to the convenient Security & Privacy Center to get all these features and more. We’ve made it as easy as possible for you to enjoy a robust suite of security and privacy protections so that you have complete control over your personal data and internet safety.

    Brave

    Brave is another privacy-centric browser that blocks ads, cookies and other trackers, and disguises your device against browser fingerprinting. You can customize your security and privacy settings on an individual website level, and Brave also features an integrated Tor mode.

    Rounding out the feature set are a password manager, protections against unwanted, potentially malicious scripts, and HTTPS encryption. And, since many websites and content creators rely on ad revenue to stay afloat, Brave’s privacy browser lets you view ads and support your favorite sites through the opt-in Brave Rewards system.

    Chrome

    Google Chrome is by far the world’s most popular browser, commanding about two-thirds of the global browser market share. But while Chrome’s popularity can’t be denied, it leaves a little to be desired in terms of security and privacy.

    Is Chrome secure? The good news is that Google updates Chrome frequently. The default safe browsing protections will ward off some dangerous websites and phishing attacks, though you’ll have to agree to send Google your browsing data to enjoy more thorough coverage. Third-party cookies are permitted by default, and there’s also no built-in ad-blocking protection or automatic HTTPS encryption.

    Given that Google pioneered the practices of online tracking, mass data collection, and targeted advertising that are now ubiquitous online, it’s unsurprising that Chrome isn’t the most private browser. By default, you’re signed into Chrome with your Google account, meaning that all your browsing is linked to your account (and Google may use your data for targeting advertising and other purposes).

    You can reclaim some of your privacy within the settings of both Chrome and your Google account, and by adding certain browser extensions. But privacy-minded users should probably consider one of the other browsers on this list.

    Chromium

    Google’s open-source Chromium project provides the foundation for many of the browsers on this list, from AVG Secure Browser to Microsoft Edge and Chrome itself. Because Chromium was built more as a toolbox than as a standalone browser, you can’t simply download an install file the way you can for other browsers.

    Instead, download the latest Chromium archive for your operating system and extract it to your chosen storage location — typically Program Files on PC or Applications on a Mac.

    As a software kit, Chromium is lightweight, customizable, and responsive — but you’ll need to do some work if you want it to feel as intuitive as other, more polished browsers. And since Chromium doesn’t automatically update, you need to download software updates yourself to maintain a secure Chromium browser on your computer.

    DuckDuckGo (mobile only)

    DuckDuckGo is a popular search engine for privacy-minded folks who don’t want big tech companies tracking all the digital crumbs they leave online. And the same philosophy applies to the DuckDuckGo mobile app — it’s a browser that doesn’t collect data on what you do online. Using a private and secure mobile browser is a great way to enhance your smartphone privacy.

    DuckDuckGo blocks ads and trackers, enforces encryption on every site you visit, and automatically routes your searches through their private search engine. The mobile browser also rates websites with a privacy grade ranging from A to F, so you know exactly who you can trust, and to what degree.

    Microsoft Edge

    Microsoft Edge is the newest browser from the PC software giants, replacing the longstanding Internet Explorer as the default browser on all Windows devices. Edge currently runs on Chromium, the same browser kit developed by Google that powers Chrome, AVG Secure Browser, and many others.

    With weekly, automatic software updates, Microsoft keeps Edge on top of any security vulnerabilities. And integrated tracking protection helps preserve your privacy online against third-party advertisers, though Edge may send information identifying your device to Microsoft. Still, the routine software updates put Edge light years ahead of Internet Explorer in terms of security. 

    Outdated software — like Internet Explorer — is prone to being targeted with exploits. It’s important to remember that software updates often include critical security patches, so no matter which browser you use, choose one that regularly receives updates.

    Epic

    Epic Privacy Browser lands on your device with many privacy-oriented features activated by default. Epic blocks ads, trackers, and browser fingerprinting, while deactivating autofill, spell check, auto-sync, and other common features that typically rely on unfettered access to your data.

    In terms of functionality, Epic behaves as if it were in perma-private browsing mode — so it won’t store your browsing history or cache any websites you visit. And when you’re done, it’ll delete your browsing history and clear any cookies accumulated during your session. Epic also features an encrypted proxy that can secure your data and hide your browsing activity from your ISP and others who may be snooping on your network.

    Privacy is clearly a priority, but is Epic Browser safe? Without open-source code, it appears you’ll have to take their word for it. And since Epic doesn’t support password managers, you’ll need to find another way to keep track of all the strong and unique passwords you’ve surely been creating to secure all your accounts.

    Firefox

    Mozilla has long advocated for more privacy, security, and transparency. Their open-source Firefox browser has always been free for anyone to inspect, establishing it as a strong contender in the security category from the get-go. Though Firefox has ceded significant market share to Chrome, it’s still the most popular third-party browser in terms of global market share.

    With a bit of tweaking in the Options menu, you can increase Firefox’s privacy browser protections against tracking, fingerprinting, and cryptominers — malicious software that monopolizes your computer’s resources by forcing it to mine cryptocurrency.

    But does Firefox track you? It will, unless you disable its ability to send data back to the Mozilla headquarters. You’ll need to go to the settings and deactivate this functionality, and then go to Advanced Settings to set up stronger protection.

    Frequent security updates help keep hackers and other cybercriminals out, and as an open-source browser, Firefox isn’t concealing anything. But you’ll have to turn to third-party extensions for automatic HTTPS encryption and the other security features offered by some of the other browsers on this list. Firefox is safe, but for truly robust protection you’ll need to add a few critical add-ons.

    Opera

    Opera is an old player in the browser game, having pioneered many of the features we now take for granted — browser tabs, for example, were an Opera feature from the beginning. Opera was also the first browser to introduce built-in pop-up blocking. It’s hard to imagine the internet today without these two essential features.

    Opera’s browser security includes several tools to shore up your defenses. You’ve got an integrated proxy (not a true VPN) that can conceal your IP address, built-in ad blocking to stop intrusive ads from disrupting your browsing, and a malicious website database to warn you if you’re heading into treacherous territory. So, is Opera safe?

    In recent years, Opera has begun helping itself to a lot of your data. When you use Opera, it can collect information about your device and your activity, and then use that data to optimize internal advertising campaigns (and also, of course, for product improvements and bug fixes).

    Safari (macOS & iOS only)

    As Apple’s flagship browser, Safari is optimized for macOS and iOS. Though Apple used to make Safari available for Windows and Android devices, they’ve stopped supporting those platforms. But Safari browser for iOS and macOS has plenty to offer.

    Third-party ad tracking cookies are blocked by default, and Safari also prevents cross-site tracking, where advertisers follow you from one page to another to learn more about your behavior and preferences. There’s no native ad blocking, so your only choice here is a third-party browser extension.

    Safari supports strong and unique passwords, generating new passwords for you and storing them in your iCloud Keychain, where they’re protected with 256-bit AES encryption.

    Like Chrome and Edge, Safari isn’t open-source, so you can’t simply poke around to see if Safari is a safe browser. In terms of website safety, Safari uses Google’s Safe Browsing list to keep you away from malicious sites — though as is the case for any browser using this service, it means you have to send your browsing data to Google. Safari also runs all pages and tabs in separate sandboxes, meaning that malicious code from one tab won’t infect your entire browser.

    Tor Browser

    You may have heard of the Tor network — it’s a system of proxy servers, or nodes, that encrypt and redirect traffic to hide their users’ identity while online. Tor Browser gives you access to this network with a browser that’s designed to prioritize privacy above all other concerns — including usability and convenience.

    Based on Firefox, Tor Browser conceals your identity in the Tor network, which encrypts your internet traffic three times over. Tor Browser won’t store your browsing history, deletes all cookies after each browsing session, and disrupts browser fingerprinting methods. Integration with the Tor network is Tor’s main differentiator, so when choosing between Tor and the other browsers on this list, the trade-off between the security of the Tor network and browser usability is worth considering.

    Tor Browser comes preconfigured with extensions that enforce automatic HTTPS encryption and prevent unauthorized websites from running scripts in your browser. But because it’s so finely tuned, adding additional extensions or changing your browser settings may compromise your protection.

    While the Tor network’s anonymizing power is formidable, it’s not foolproof. And due to how it handles your traffic, you may find Tor Browser too slow for everyday use — plus it can actually break websites. Unless you connect first to a VPN, your internet service provider (ISP) will also be able to see that you’re using Tor. And many ISPs as well as governments view Tor use with suspicion.

    Vivaldi

    Created by Opera’s former CEO and known for its customizability, Vivaldi offers near-total control over how its browser looks and functions. It’s based on the Chromium platform and, like many of the other third-party browsers here, blocks ads and trackers by default.

    Vivaldi has a transparent privacy policy that clearly outlines the type of data it collects — your user ID number and basic device info — and what it does with this data. Otherwise, Vivaldi won’t track your online activity. You can choose to block all cookies or just third-party trackers, set different search engines for normal and private mode, and even adjust your security settings for each search engine you use.

    Vivaldi’s browser security uses Google Safe Browsing for website safety, and you can sync your Vivaldi data between devices with encryption.

    Waterfox

    Firefox is an open-source browser, meaning that anyone can inspect its code and build something else with it. And people do — Waterfox is a Firefox offshoot with several noticeable differences.

    While Firefox’s telemetry (data measurement and collection) is activated by default, Waterfox disables this feature — they won’t collect any information about your usage. The same goes for several other Firefox-adopted features (though, as with telemetry, if you’re using Firefox, you can deactivate these in your settings).

    To evade online trackers, Waterfox routinely deletes stored data from your browser. Many other browsers don’t, requiring a specialized extension or browser cleaning tool instead. But is Waterfox browser safe? Some reviewers have noted that Waterfox is slower to receive security updates than Firefox. And in early 2020, Waterfox was acquired by System1, a company which, among other things, specializes in online advertising.

    So, which browser is best for private, secure browsing?

    Depending on your preferences, needs, and how you browse, different browser features will take priority over others. Whether it’s the ability to counter browser fingerprinting, create and securely store passwords, or enforce HTTPS encryption on any website, which browser is best for private browsing and what’s the most secure web browser may differ from person to person. 

    AVG Secure Browser outfits you with a full suite of features for extremely robust online privacy and security protection. You’ve got secure password management, defense against webcam hacking, automatic HTTPS encryption, and advanced tools against browser fingerprinting. Plus, its built-in Anti-Phishing solution ensures that you don’t inadvertently expose your personal data. As far as the most secure browsers go, it’s hard to imagine a more secure setup.

    For those mainly interested in smartphone protection, DuckDuckGo is a strong choice. Their mobile browser doesn’t track your online activity, and all your searches are routed through DuckDuckGo’s privacy-focused search engine.

    If you’re looking for privacy above all else, Tor Browser is the obvious choice — though note that the same features that enable this privacy also make Tor Browser too slow and inconvenient for everyday use. And while Epic Privacy Browser also prioritizes privacy, you’ll have to go without a password manager and other conveniences like auto-sync and spell check.

    Of the big four — Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Firefox — Firefox is the strongest choice. Unlike Safari, it’s available on all major desktop and mobile operating systems. And with a quick trip to settings, you can opt out of Mozilla’s data-collection practices. Throw on a few choice extensions, and Firefox becomes an effective browser for both privacy and security.

    Why is browser security so important?

    Every time you browse the web, you’re leaking a ton of personal info. Companies use this data to target ads to your preferences and habits. The claims about “personalization” and “relevant advertising” is really just another way of saying that they’re using your data to show you goods and services you’re more likely to buy.

    Tracking cookies and browser fingerprinting are just two ways that ad providers, social media platforms, and other parties follow you around online.

    icon_09Tracking cookies: Cookies are small files that websites place in your browser. Some cookies are helpful, but others follow you around the web and are used by advertisers and others to collect information about your habits and preferences. That’s why you should disable third-party cookies if you don’t want your online activity tracked.

    icon_11Browser fingerprinting: Through the use of special scripts or software, websites harvest a wealth of information about your browser and device. This data becomes your browser fingerprint. The chances of two people having the same browser fingerprint are extremely low, so websites can confidently assume that two sessions with the same fingerprint belong to the same user. Fingerprinting is a relatively new type of online tracking that lets sites identify you even if you block cookies and use a VPN. But, thankfully, strong anti-tracking software exists that can prevent advertisers and others from using your browser fingerprint to track you.

    What makes a browser private and secure?

    As we’ve learned, many browsers block cookies by default, but the most secure browsers also prevent browser fingerprinting. And secure browsers ensure that no one else can access stored personal information — such as autofill data, your browsing history, and any saved login credentials — which helps protect you against identity theft

    Secure browsers also boast features like forced data encryption and integrated VPNs to keep hackers at bay. You’re basically looking for a tool to help you practice safer browsing. And while your browser’s private browsing mode (going incognito in Chrome, for example) won’t log your browsing history on your own device, it also won’t hide your IP address or online activity from websites, ISPs, employers, or governments agencies. In the world of digital privacy and security, going incognito is only a first step, and a pretty small one at that.

    Browse securely and privately with AVG Secure Browser

    There’s more to internet privacy and security than just blocking ads and cookies. So rather than having to protect yourself by actively enabling the features you need and bloating up your browser with extensions, go for a browser that’s built from the ground up with your privacy and security as a priority.

    AVG Secure Browser protects you from the moment you install it on your computer or phone. With anti-fingerprinting and anti-phishing safeguards, always-on HTTPS encryption, protection for your webcam, a built-in password manager, and even a free VPN on your smartphone, AVG Secure Browser gives you all the tools you need to stay truly safe online.

    Browse privately on your iPhone with AVG Secure Browser

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    Browse privately on your Android with AVG Secure Browser

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