We spend a lot of time online and, for the most part, we always use a browser to surf the web. So, using a browser that best answers your needs will maximize your online experience. However, with so many free options out there, choosing a browser may be a headache, especially when some of them look so similar. On top of that, there are many factors to take into consideration, with extra built-in features being just one of them. On our website, you'll find thorough reviews and comparisons to help find the perfect browser for you.
Best Secure Browsers of 2021
1. CCleaner Browser
CCleaner, known for its popular cleaning and optimization software, also has its own impressive browser. Full of neat built-in features, fast speeds, and low resource consumption, CCleaner Browser is an excellent choice for most online users.
CCleaner Browser shines the most when it comes to its privacy-oriented built-in shields. It offers an ad blocker, anti-tracking, anti-phishing as well as anti-fingerprinting. On top of that, it enforces websites to use HTTPS at all times, blocks Flash, protects your webcam from being hacked and blocks unwanted add-ons or plugins. Speaking of add-ons, since CCleaner is Chromium-based, it works with the majority of the extensions found on the Chrome Web Store.
Along with all the security and privacy features, CCleaner Browser also offers a video downloader that enables you to download videos from all over the internet, YouTube included. Unfortunately, for the time being, CCleaner Browser is only available for Windows 7 onwards.
Vivaldi is one of the browsers with the highest customization on the market. It gives so much control to the user that by the end you will have tweaked every setting until it doesn’t even look like a Chromium-based browser anymore. Although, it does still have the perk of being compatible with most extensions in the Google Web Store.
The browser also comes with some neat built-in features such as the thorough notes function. You can aggregate ideas by topic, add a web address with a simple click, as well as take screenshots and attach them to your notes. Furthermore, Vivaldi comes with a reader view that shows only an article text and images to make it easier to read. Privacy-wise, Vivaldi phones home daily and receives the user’s ID, CPU architecture, screen resolution, and time since the last message. However, user IPs are disguised by removing the last octet. Besides that, Vivaldi doesn't have any access to your data, including browsing activity.
On desktop, Vivaldi is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Unfortunately, on mobile, it only works on Android but it's possible to synchronize between devices, and Vivaldi offers an extra layer of security by encrypting the synced data end-to-end.
Waterfox is one of the most popular Firefox forks of all time. At the time, Waterfox gained its popularity thanks to it being the only Firefox-based browser to have an x64 architecture. However, nowadays, Waterfox's adoration is due to the customization and privacy it offers.
Contrary to Firefox, Waterfox is still compatible with older add-ons, such as legacy extensions, WebExtensions, and NPAPI plugins. In other words, you can transform Waterfox in whatever way you want, making it entirely your own.
The creator, Alex Kontos, is a privacy advocate, so it makes sense that Waterfox data logging stays at the minimum possible. Therefore, besides getting your OS details and browser version to install updates, Waterfox doesn't log any other information.
Unfortunately, for the time being, Waterfox is only available for desktop. There was a mobile app for Android but it's no longer available. You can still find the APK file throughout the internet but, since the download links don't come from the official website, extra care is needed so you don’t end up installing malware by mistake.
How to Choose the Right Browser
Since most browsers are available for free, the urge to install every single one and try them for yourself is high. However, it's unwise to do so. Besides being a time-consuming process, if the browsers aren’t correctly uninstalled afterward, leftover files from the browsers will slow your computer down. Therefore, it's advisable that you narrow down your choices to a minimum first.
1. Make a List of Desired Features
Depending on what you give more importance to – privacy, customization, built-in features, etc. – the number of browsers to choose from will decrease. Furthermore, not all browsers are available for every platform but some do offer synchronization between devices. Therefore, by pinpointing what devices you want to use and if you want to sync your browsing information between them, you’ll cut down the options even further. By making this simple list, you'll save a lot of time on research.
2. Do Some Research
When you know what you're looking for, it's time to start researching. Starting with top rankings is intelligent, but you should always read reviews about the software since they are more detailed and will help you to better understand what suits you. However, if you’re still not sure, our comparisons will help you narrow down the options even further. You'll end up with only a few options or, even better, just one.
3. Download and Try It Yourself
Since this is the tool that you are going to use most of your time online, it's essential to try it yourself to make sure it's the right one for you. However, if you go for a paid browser, it's advisable to search for free trials or coupons to make sure you get the best deal possible.
Privacy Conscious Browser Usage
Like any other software, there are browsers that are more private and secure than others. If you’re a privacy advocate, choosing the right browser is an essential first step. Unfortunately, it's not always enough.
Most websites provide an SSL encrypted connection. However, this doesn't offer full protection, and using an open Wi-Fi connection is just one of the examples where SSL won't protect you from hackers. Therefore, using a VPN service is of utmost importance while browsing the internet. Furthermore, only a VPN or a proxy can mask your IP, protecting your real location from being shared.
Another danger lurking in the internet shadows are phishing websites. Before inserting any sensitive information, you should always double-check the web address to make sure it's trustworthy. Antiviruses are great helpers to have since they're always updating their phishing lists and will tell you when you’re reaching an insecure site.
Browser Security 101
Convenience vs Security
UC Browser is one of the most versatile mobile browsers, but it's also one of the least secure on the market. It's so insecure that it's common to read users' complaints that they got viruses on their device after installing the app.
Unfortunately, most of the time, there is a trade-off between convenience and security/privacy. UC Browser might be an extreme case, but there are features we use every day that are not as private as we think – Google search browsing being one of them. A built-in feature present in almost every Chromium-based browser whose objective is to scan the websites you are visiting to make sure they don't contain malware. Helpful? Yes. However, at the same time, the feature sends all your visited links to Google services. The same happens with the autocomplete searches and URL functions, suggestions for similar web pages, and the list continues.
Furthermore, extensions can also install malware on your computer or follow your footsteps online. It's essential to be careful of what you add to your browser, especially when it offers a free service. As the saying goes, when it's free, you're the product.
How Do Browsers Leak?
There are several ways a browser can leak your information. However, the most usual is through HTTP connections, extensions, WebRTC, and fingerprinting.
Websites that offer an HTTP connection are not secure since there’s no encryption. Therefore, all the information is sent through plain text. As you can imagine, this is prone to man-in-the-middle attacks where the hacker intercepts the connection. Most browsers tell you when you’re not on a secure website, though only some enforce HTTPS encryption.
Installing add-ons on your browser can be tempting, but don't forget – that’s the main way that browsers leak data. Recently, millions of users saw their data leaked due to the use of extensions that logged their browsing information. Some of the names under those extensions are Branded Surveys, Fairshare Unlock, and PanelMeasurent. WebRTC enables real-time communication directly in a browser without the need for a plug-in. However, this process can even bypass VPNs and leak your IP address.
Even if you block everything and don't let anyone track you, there is still a way that websites will be able to pinpoint your browsing activity – through fingerprinting. This technique takes small pieces of information that alone may seem entirely random such as your screen size, browser version, etc. However, by combining everything, websites can create a profile and still follow what you’re doing online.
Why Pay for a Browser?
Although Chrome and Firefox are working on releasing paid plans of their browser services, it may seem strange for us to think about paying for a service that has always been free. However, if we take into consideration what new features it will unlock, you can see why this may become normal in the future. Of course, things will depend on how companies decide to push their paid services and pricing strategies.
For the time being, Puffin is one of the few browsers that offers an entirely paid browser service for $1 per month, and it's one of the best browsers in the industry. Puffin renders websites on the cloud before sending them to your computer. Due to this, it's extremely fast while having one of the lowest computer resources consumption on the market. Furthermore, it compresses all web pages, saving you around 90% of internet bandwidth. The latter can actually save you some money with your internet provider, especially on mobile.
There is another reason why paying for a browser completely changes the game. Instead of a user, you'll become a customer and, therefore, you'll be treated as one. This means better customer service, no targeted advertising, and, hopefully, more privacy and security.