Last updated: February 4, 2019
Which Web Browser Is Best For Security In 2020?
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With increasing numbers of malware attacks and other threats trying to steal your personal data, protecting yourself online is vitally important. Threats such as credit card scams, phishing, and computer viruses should make internet security a priority for everyone.
This starts with good browsing practices. Take care when you open email attachments. Make sure your antivirus software is up-to-date. Forming good habits like these should be a top priority. It is also a good idea to use the most secure web browser.
Popular Doesn't Necessarily Mean Secure
While Google Chrome is the most popular web browser available, it may not be the most secure. Other browsers have been shown to be less vulnerable to attack, so the popular choice is not necessarily the best. In fact, its popularity makes it an appealing target for hackers. As a consequence, Chrome has been more frequently updated than any other major browser. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, because it shows that Google is committed to keeping Chrome up-to-date. But it does give you an idea of the threats that are constantly being developed against the browser.
Whichever browser you do use, there are ways to protect yourself further. You should almost certainly enable automatic updates to ensure you always have the latest version. For example, Code Red caused great harm to Windows NT computers, even though Microsoft had released a patch against the virus several months before the attack.
In addition, you should install appropriate add-ons such as HTTPS Everywhere or one of the many ad blockers available.
Beyond Hackers: Big Data
Internet security isn't just about your personal data. Big data is a pressing issue that internet users now need to consider. Securing your personal data against theft and misuse is paramount, but data about how and why you use the internet is becoming more and more valuable. This data gives a variety of organizations a level of character profiling powers that can be used to affect your everyday life.
An obvious example of how character profiling can be used is Amazon recommendations. Amazon monitors your shopping habits when you are logged in and recommends other products you might like. This is innocuous enough - even helpful. But when this type of monitoring extends beyond your Amazon account, the potential for abuse grows. Imagine how data about everything you look at on the internet could be abused. What could a government organization do when it knows your news reading habits?
Allowing any organization to use your browsing data requires a level of trust. Do you trust them to keep the data to themselves? Are you happy for it to be shared with other organizations? Do you trust their data security practices? The good news is that there are some browsers that include incognito browsing facilities, which allow you to browse without cookies and other kinds of monitoring. And other browsers are specifically designed with privacy in mind.
How to Choose the Most Secure Browser
Read the infographic below to find out more about increasing your online privacy and choosing the most secure browser.
Which Browser is the Most Secure?
Internet security is becoming increasingly important, especially as more and more of our data is being shared and stored online. Whenever you go on a website, you're exposing yourself to risks, including computer viruses and personal data theft.
But is there such thing as the "most secure" online browser - and how can you take extra steps to make sure you're surfing safely?
Browser Vulnerabilities in Recent Years
According to a 2016 report conducted by Symantec, in 2015:
- There was a 36% increase in new unique pieces of malware, creating 430 million in total
- Every day, one million people suffered from a web attack
- 100 million fake technical support scams were blocked by Symantec
But it's not just malware threats that people are becoming concerned about, as research suggests our browsing habits are being heavily tracked:
- Of the Internet's million most popular websites - Google code was found on most of them
- Google owns the five most common tracking tools
- These can be used to build up profiles of users as they surf the Web, providing them with unique identifiers that can then be used for target advertising, for example
Most Popular Browsers by Global Market Share
As of February 2017, the most popular desktop browsers were:
- Google Chrome - 58.53%
- Microsoft Internet Explorer - 19.17%
- Mozilla Firefox - 11.68%
- Microsoft Edge - 5.55%
- Apple Safari - 3.45%
- Opera - 1.22%
- Undetectable or Other - 0.4%
The most popular mobile/tablet browsers were:
- Google Chrome - 55.2%
- Apple Safari - 29.84%
- Android Browser - 7.16%
- Opera Mini - 4.62%
- Microsoft Internet Explorer - 1.02%
- Mozilla Firefox - 0.55%
- Opera - 0.41%
- Other - 1.21%
Which Browser had the Most Discovered Vulnerabilities in 2016?
Despite being the most popular browser, Google Chrome was the browser that had the most discovered vulnerabilities in 2016:
Google Chrome - 172
- 2015 - 187
- 2014 - 127
Microsoft Edge - 135
- 2015 - 270
- 2014 - Wasn't available
Mozilla Firefox - 133
- 2015 - 179
- 2014 - 108
Microsoft Internet Explorer - 129
- 2015 - 231
- 2014 - 243
Apple Safari - 56
- 2015 - 135
- 2014 - 72
Figures also demonstrate that a lot of users are running outdated versions, which means they're even more exposed to threats:
- Over 50% of Google Chrome users
- 75% of Microsoft Internet Explorer / Edge users
- 33% of Mozilla Firefox users
- 33% of Apple Safari users
However, these figures don't account for how serious the vulnerabilities are, whether they're on open- or closed-source browsers, or the most crucial of factors - patch response times.
Days Between Security Updates
- Google Chrome - 15
- Mozilla Firefox - 28
- Microsoft Internet Explorer - 30
- Apple Safari - 54
How to Secure Your Browser
All of these statistics don't necessarily mean that a particular browser is going to be more secure for you
- Instead, a lot of your Internet safety will stem from your own good practices, including:
- Enabling automatic software updates
- Installing and using antivirus software
- Remaining cautious when sharing information or opening email attachments
You may also want to incorporate one or more of the following add-ons to boost your browser's security:
- Adblock Plus - Enables faster browsing by blocking out intrusive ads (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera and Android)
- LastPass - Creates a strong, secure password for each site you use, storing them in an encrypted vault so you only have to remember one master password - it'll automatically fill in the others as you browse (Chrome, IE, Firefox, Safari, and Opera)
- HTTPS Everywhere - Makes sure you're only ever visiting a secure, encrypted version of a website (Chrome, Firefox, and Opera)
- Disconnect - Blocks tracking cookies from third-parties (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, and Android)
Browsers Built for Privacy
With more and more people watching what you're doing online, you may want to browse as privately as possible.
To help you do this, there are a number of privacy-specific browsers, including:
- Available on Windows, Mac, and Linux
- Enables you to communicate anonymously
- Protects your online messages, personal data, browser history, and location
- Epic Browser
- Available on Mac
- No DNS prefetching, disallows third-party cookies, doesn't save your Internet history, no DNS or web caches, and no autofill feature
- Deletes cookies, pepper data, preferences, and associated databases from Silverlight and Flash when you close the browser
- SRWare Iron
- Available on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android
- Removes the need for a user ID every time you start browsing
- Gets rid of suggestions, alternate error pages, error reporting, RLZ-tracking, Google updater, and URL-tracker
- Comodo Dragon
- Available on Windows, Mac, and Linux
- Blocks web spies, cookies, and all tracking
- Includes built-in domain validation, which will segregate weak and strong SSL certificates
- Uses the Comodo antivirus package to protect you from viruses, malware, and other potential threats
The number of malware attacks will increase the more victims it successfully accumulates. This means that secure browsers not only rely on vigilant developers but savvy users too, who are regularly updating and adding to their browsers to make them as impenetrable as possible.
Sources: symantec.com, netmarketshare.com, heimdalsecurity.com, us-cert.gov, lifehacker.com, expressvpn.com, makeuseof.com, technologyreview.com
- Internet Security Threat Report (PDF)
- Desktop Browser Market Share
- Most Vulnerable Software in 2016
- Securing Your Web Browser
- Lifehacker Pack for Chrome: Our List of the Essential Extensions
- The Best Browser Extensions that Protect Your Privacy
- Ranked: Security and privacy for the most popular web browsers
- 4 Anonymous Web Browsers That Are Completely Private
- Largest Study of Online Tracking Proves Google Really Is Watching Us All