What about browsers? In the era of privacy and security concerns, “Are browsers safe?” The answer is a sword with two edges. Yes. And, no. How about this one? “Which browsers are private and secure?” All of them. Or, none of them. Can they be ranked? Yes.
The Browser Ranker
Do you use a browser on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad? The answer for most of us is a qualified “Yes.” Browsers are the method by which we, well, browse the interwebs in search of news, information, and entertainment. Yes, not all browsers are created equal, but we’re talking about privacy and security, so how do they rank?
Zubair Khan did a straightforward analysis of popular browsers and even started with a quantitative ranking criteria.
- Security features
- Privacy tools
Fair enough, but not enough. The list comes close to my own browser rankings with the exception being $1. Here they are in order from worst to best.
Internet Explorer – Does anyone still use this creaking and ancient relic of a browser? Unfortunately, a few hundred million Microsoft Windows users. You can block pop-up windows, and, well… that’s about it.
Opera – Again, a few hundred million earthling’s call Opera home and now uses Google’s Chromium project for the basic engine. It comes with malware and fraud protection but not many privacy tools other than an option for a built-in VPN. Did I mention that Opera is owned by a Chinese company?
Google Chrome – This is just wrong. Chrome is the most popular browser on earth thanks to Google’s playful logo, free search engine, Gmail, and other free utilities, but Chrome should be on the bottom of the list thanks to Google’s penchant for tracking users even if they put anti-tracking extensions into Chrome.
Safari – This ranking is almost criminal. Safari is behind Chromium and just ahead of Chrome and while not as private or secure as Mozilla’s famed Firefox, there is nowhere else to go because Apple is complicit with Google thanks to the company receiving many billions of dollars in exchange for putting Google’s search engine as the default in Safari. That is shameful.
Mozilla Firefox – Change can be a bitch. Old habits die hard. Yet, Firefox endures in a world dominated by Google’s Chromium project and Apple’s Safari browser. Firefox has built-in content blocking tools for trackers, phishing and malware protection, and much more. On Mac and Windows PCs, Firefox is the fastest, too. And thanks to Private Browsing I use Firefox on Mac, iPhone, and iPad instead of Safari.
So, what’s #1?
Tor Browser – This one isn’t for the faint of heart or anybody in a hurry, but Tor is more secure than Firefox because it is an encrypted experience with three layers of network relays to disguise who you are and where you are browsing from. ISPs– and that means authorities, if they choose– can only see that you’re using Tor, not where you are browsing. Tor is not feature laden and not exactly fast, but if privacy and security are more important than website download speed, you’re good to go.