In the past, securing your web browsing history may have indicated that you were overly paranoid.
But with recent leaks indicating large scale government surveillance, and growing issues around data tracking from online businesses and internet service providers, securing your browsing history seems like the only logical solution.
Yet, it's not just companies and governments causing problems online; hackers and other nefarious online groups are also targeting your internet connection for access to your information.
Using a secure browser can help you shield your online information. Google and other companies use their browsers to retain data on your search history. Plugins that you install on these browsers may also be retaining your data, so it can be a real minefield without a protected browser.
So, what's the best secure browser on the market? Let's take a look at my top 4 picks below:
- Tor (Highly secure, protection from governments)
- Epic (Avoids tracking, encryption proxy included)
- Brave (Fast browser with added safety features)
- Yandex (Provides excellent malware prevention tools)
The Onion Router, commonly referred to as Tor, has a reputation for being one of the most secure browsers in the world. Many people may assume you're up to no good if you're connecting via Tor, but the aim of Tor was to provide everyday people with the privacy they need to securely access the internet. In recent years, it's made headlines for being the browser of choice for 'dark-web' users.
And while you shouldn't use Tor to involve yourself in sketchy activities in the dark web, it's popularity amongst crowds who require extensive privacy is always a good sign! Tor keeps your web traffic secure by rerouting all your traffic through a maze of different servers; this makes it almost impossible to detect your original IP address. In fact, its services typically consist of around 7,000 server relays.
Tor was originally released in late 2002. The service is free and open-source. The Tor Foundation also provides additional resources and recommendations on its website for those who want to ensure they can maintain their privacy while connected to Tor. It's also built to look the same as Mozilla Firefox, which means you'll benefit from a clean browser interface.
Accessing '.Onion' Sites
Another benefit that Tor offers is access to .onion sites. This is a domain extension that is only accessible through Tor's browser. While many of the sites with these extensions offer illegal services, other privacy centered services also offer a secure connection through this service.
For example, ExpressVPN (a VPN provider that offers connection encryption services) has an .onion extension so that customers can sign up for its services without risking exposure through their traditional browsers. Using a .onion extension to sign up for privacy-related services adds an extra layer of security.
It's important to understand the limitation of Tor. While it does an excellent job of shielding your web traffic, it doesn’t do much to prevent malware or viruses from entering your computer.
You'll need to be just as careful using the Tor browser if you want to avoid downloading viruses or other malicious files. Also, while websites will not know your IP address, they may know that you're connecting through Tor. Some sites block access via Tor.
Also, because Tor reroutes all of your traffic through a variety of different servers, it naturally slows down your loading speeds. This can seem frustrating at first if you're used to a speedy connection. While the speed sacrifice is worth the extra privacy, it does pay to have a solid internet speed if you don't want your Tor usage to be mind-numbingly slow.
- Open-source software
- A deep commitment to privacy
- .Onion browser extension adds an extra security
- Shields IP address from websites you visit
- Strong server relay methods
- Much slower than a regular browser
- Doesn't block malware
- Allows websites to know that you're using Tor
Epic is one of the best secure browser platforms that reduces its feature list to provide some of the most extensive security options available to web users. The browser is based on Chromium (a Google-funded project).
And while many of the world's largest browsers claim to have a 'private browsing mode,' few truly follow up on this promise.
This is exactly what makes Epic so good. It doesn't retain any of your browsing histories. It also blocks third-parties (even Google) from keeping your browsing information. When you exit from the platform, your history, along with cookies and trackers, will all be deleted.
If you want to take your privacy a step further, you can activate the proxy on your browser. This proxy provides you with excellent encryption that can help you shield your IP address from the sites that you come into contact with.
While this feature does provide you with excellent privacy options, it must be noted that it will slow down your browsing speeds. Also, Epic always activates this proxy when you're using a search engine.
Epic has an HTTPS preferred features that allow you to prioritize HTTPS connections over HTTP. This is an excellent feature if you want to ensure your server connection with a site is secure. It can prevent third-parties from hijacking data as you communicate on the internet.
While Epic still doesn’t offer the same extreme privacy features as Tor, it's one of the best options you can find if you want to truly increase the control of your online activity. Best of all, it's not nearly as slow as the Tor browser, so you won't have to sacrifice too much on the performance side.
- Offers IP protection through a proxy
- Clean, easy interface based off Chromium
- Deletes all cookies and trackers
- Can set up HTTPS preferred service
- Automatically deletes all web history
- The proxy makes the server run slower
- It is not open-source
Brave is an excellent browser if you're looking for basic security and privacy features. While it doesn't offer the same privacy benefits as Tor, it's a decent option if you want to reduce your exposure to data collection from companies and other cookie placers online.
Best of all, the browser is much more lightweight than Tor; you won't suffer from the same slow connection speeds.
Ad-Blocks and Cookie Refusals
Brave offers ad blocking options and extensive cookie refusal features. This means that you won't be subject to so many excess advertisements online, and you won't have to worry about cookies tracking your internet data.
You'll need to set these features into place when you download the browser. But it's always a good idea to block ads or cookies; otherwise, the amount of advertising you're exposed to can be overwhelming.
HTTPS Everywhere is a joint project by the Tor Foundation and another privacy-centric group. It's a plugin that can be used with most major browsers, including Brave.
Coupling this plugin with Brave makes it one of the best secure browser platforms you can choose. Many people don't realize it, but there is a huge difference between HTTPS and HTTP connections. If you connect through an HTTP connection, there is no encryption between you and the server of the site you're accessing.
To encrypt the data that you transfer, you need to be connected to an HTTPS connection. It's easy to forget this as you browse the internet. If you want to prevent overuse of HTTP, you can use HTTPS Everywhere to prioritize HTTPS connections. You can even set the plugin to avoid all HTTP connections, though this may limit your access to specific sites.
At the end of the day, Brave is quite a limited browser in terms of complete privacy. But what it does offer is excellent security features to prevent unsecured connections. You won't be able to anonymize yourself completely, but it does provide the features you need to keep yourself safer online.
- Cookie blocking features
- Can help prevent tracking from businesses
- Ad blocking features
- High-speed browser
- Doesn't provide complete anonymity
- Won't shield your IP address by itself
Yandex is a browser that provides its users with a variety of different safety features. While Yandex isn't the same as Chrome, it's designed to provide a similar interface.
You can even import your current settings from Google Chrome. Yandex provides its users with IP shielding and anti-tracking features to prevent external parties from keeping tabs on your browsing.
Yandex is one of the few browsers that offers its users excellent malware protection. If you want to avoid downloading viruses or other dangerous files via your browser, Yandex is a solid choice. It uses Kaspersky antivirus software to check downloads, and it also detects malicious content on sites. Don't worry; the browser still runs extremely fast.
While Yandex does offer some of the best safety features available to individuals looking to keep themselves secure online, it's closed-source software, so there aren't any guarantees.
Unlike Tor, Yandex is run by a Russian company. This means that you don't have much control over the promises that Yandex makes.
And the Kaspersky malware protection tool used by the browser is also under scrutiny. In 2018, a whistleblower has revealed that the antivirus is spying on its users on behalf of the Russian government.
So while Yandex is popular with users, it's important to keep these concerns in mind.
The browser may do an excellent job of keeping your data away from search engines or businesses, but it may also be storing it for its own reasons.
- IP address protection
- Third-party tracking prevention
- Malware download scanning
- Malicious content blockers and detectors
- Browser is high-speed
- Based in Russia
- Not much information about backend proprietary usage
- Closed-source software
Which Secure Browser is Best for Your Needs?
While all the browsers on this list provide you with a degree of privacy, they all have different advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the best secure browser for you will depend on your personal preferences and needs. Let's take a look at what makes each browser stand out:
- Tor is the best browser for privacy; it offers serious protection from government and third-party intrusion.
- Epic is best for those who want an encrypted browser that offers a wide variety of tracking blockers and automatically deletes browsing history.
- Brave is best for those who want a fast browser packed with safety add-ons.
- Yandex is an excellent choice for people looking to avoid malware or viruses online.
Other Security Boosts to Keep Your Browsing Secure
As you can see, you're spoiled for choice if you want the best secure browser for your computer. But if your internet connection isn't secured, you may still be exposed to outside forces.
To truly protect yourself on the internet, it's also important to use a VPN. A VPN reroutes your internet connection through different servers to hide your web traffic from your ISP and prying eyes.
NordVPN, ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN, and a range of other premium VPN services can offer you affordable access to a secure connection. It's also an excellent choice to encrypt your data when you're connected to unsecured WiFi hotspots. To check out which VPNs are best for you and your device, check out our best VPN list..