There has been a lot of new information about secure web browsing crossing my desktop lately. Back in May, we wrote a series of articles about browser hacking and hijacking, which described in depth the dangers to our privacy and anonymity that we face when we are casually web browsing. In this article we are going to be looking at secure browsers and alternatives. Be advised that security, privacy, and anonymity come with a price. Many websites, especially the ones that rely on advertising revenue, and many e-commerce sites just do not do well with a privacy browser, so you may find yourself flipping around between browsers. Some of these browsers you may know and some browser alternatives you may be unfamiliar with. What follows is a quick review with links out to their respective home pages.
TOR – TOR is an open-source software solution run by the non-profit TOR Project. TOR (the Onion Router) is your best solution if maintaining your privacy and anonymity is critically important to you. Especially if your life depends on it. The TOR network is a globe-spanning collective of volunteer-operated servers that allows people to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. TOR’s users employ this network by connecting through a series of virtual tunnels rather than making a direct connection, thus allowing both organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy. Along the same line, TOR is an effective censorship circumvention tool, allowing its users to reach otherwise blocked destinations or content. TOR can also be used as a building block for software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features.
TOR basically works as an encrypted chain of proxy servers. Connection information is not stored on these servers, and none of the servers knows the complete route your connection is taking, they only know about the next hop. Using TOR is not a guarantee of anonymity, it still requires the user to good operational security practices, including NOT providing identity information at your destination.
Epic – The Epic Security Browser is a Google Chromium fork that uses VPN (virtual private networking) technology to keep your session private and anonymous. Your data is encrypted and hidden from the government, your ISP, Google, your employer, and hundreds of data collectors. When closing Epic your browsing history is erased. Epic can also reveal who is trying to track you online.
Brave – The Brave Privacy Browser provides ad-blocking, fingerprinting, cookie control, automatic upgrading to HTTPS, and clears browser history. Brave also has a built-in password manager, and supports popular PM’s like 1Password, Dashlane, and LastPass. Brave is adding a new feature to enhance its existing anti-surveillance features – the ability to use the TOR network by launching a tab. Private Tabs with TOR (beta version 0.23), as it is called, is easily launched by clicking on the option from a drop-down list.
Opera with VPN – Last year I moved to Opera for about a month, and tried the Opera VPN feature. It worked great, but I had so many issues with websites that loaded slowly or incompletely that I went back to Chrome, and then switched to Edge. Otherwise Opera worked well for me. You can read my earlier review here.
Firefox – Firefox is the web browser provided by the open-source Mozilla Project. The TOR browser is a Firefox derivative, and Firefox appears in the Kali Linux distro. Firefox has been in the forefront of the privacy movement for a long time, and offers Private Browsing, a password manager, and ad tracker blocking. Like Brave, Firefox is developing a TOR feature called Project Fusion, providing a new super-private mode in Firefox itself.
Microsoft Edge – I use Edge as my principle browser, and the reasons why can be found in my earlier post. In a recent lab comparison, Edge performed better at blocking phishing malware downloads and zero-day threats. This is a feature that for me is more useful than privacy and anonymity, and I find browser performance to be strong. Edge also offers InPrivate browsing, pop-up blocking, a password manager, and will send a Do Not Track request if enabled on the menu.
In our next post, we will continue our review of privacy and anonymity browsers and other related services. I hope to see you there.
- TechWorld Best Secure Browsers 2018
- Sophos Naked Security – Brave adds TOR
- Opera Web Browser Offers Secure VPN
- Microsoft Edge Browser Blocks Phishing Malware Downloads
- PC Mag – Best VPNs 2018