Best browsers for privacy 2018
With online privacy bills such as the Investigatory Powers Act here in the UK and the National Security Agency's surveillance programme extending its reach globally, more people are turning to browsers with strong privacy features to keep their data away from prying eyes.
No browser is 100 percent confidential. However, the best of the privacy-minded browsers promise to block ads and cookies and allow for extensions to disrupt trackers even further.
This list used to include Opera, Yandex, Comodo, Cocoon and Google Chrome but we've removed all of these to reflect the changing privacy needs in the market.
The reasoning is:
- Opera in late 2016 had the majority of its assets sold to a Chinese consortium in a $600 million deal. It's removed not because it was sold to a Chinese consortium but that it is closed off and users are in the dark about how the browser behaves. Also – who knows where that free VPN routes traffic through first?
- Similarly, Yandex is a closed proprietary product developed by what could loosely be referred to as the 'Russian Google'. Again the primary reasoning is that it is proprietary and a closed shop.
- Cocoon and Comodo are also closed and proprietary
- Chrome is owned by Google. While Chrome is based on the open source Chromium browser (also from Google), Google code means Google tracking.
- If you like Chrome there are 'de-Googled' options available like Epic Privacy Browser (listed below) and Iridium Browser but it's hard to say if all the traces of Google are truly removed from top to bottom.
In other words, if you are privacy conscious you will want to opt for an open source solution that receives regular updates with an active community, as well as supporting addons for disabling tracking and so on.
While Tor is the most anonymous browser technically, the Tor network is frequently monitored by authorities, so using it can make a user stick out in a way that a more conventional browser doesn't. To be truly secure with a Tor browser probably means locking down your system with a secure basic Linux OS such as Tails, and using networks that are two or three steps removed from your home Wi-Fi – like public networks.
For most users, Firefox checks all the boxes. While it is by no means airtight (nothing is), you can build it out with enough protections in place to minimise intrusions to your browsing and so Firefox and the stripped down Firefox Quantum gets our vote.
Read next: Five steps to secure your office network.