How Safe is Your Web-Browser?

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Choose your browser wisely.

The browser isn’t nearly as important as your behavior, but like anything else in life, privacy is more accessible when you have a solid foundation to build on.

Let’s start by taking a look at three of the more mainstream browsers (Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer). All three of these browsers have something in common; they’re part of their respective parent company’s new-out-of-the-box set-ups when you purchase a Google, Apple, or Microsoft product. This software to hardware relationship lends to their mass popularity as consumer purchases of electronics mainly favor brands of this ilk.

Google’s Chrome

Image result for google chrome

Chrome seems to be the go-to browser for the casual web-surfer, even when not installed locally at the time of purchase. As of January 2020, Chrome claimed a massive 58.2% of the market. While it’s incredibly user-friendly and widely used, being as it’s a Google application, it’s designed with data tracking functionality being a primary focus. It does, however, have the befit of the most extensive extension library and the incredibly talented mines of Google hard at work to make it a more secure, if not private, user-experience.

Apple’s Safari

Image result for apple safari logo

Safari is excellent in its own right, that is, if you have an Apple product. Safari has some pretty nifty convenience features, including bookmark and history cloud storage, allowing for easy access to this information across devices sharing the same Apple ID. Additionally, Safari makes use of Apple’s iCloud Keychain, which ComputerWorld classifies as highly secure, “Technically, iCloud Keychain is highly secure: Keychain passwords and credit card numbers are encrypted with 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). End to end encryption — your data is protected with a unique (device) key and your device passcode, which only you know. Two-factor authentication is also recommended.” (ComputerWorld.com)

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer

Image result for internet explorer logo

Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, once a powerhouse holding an unimaginably high market share above 90% in the early 2000s, now holds just 7.2% of all user’s attention. It is important to note that Microsoft has ceased development of the browser. It doesn’t end there, Microsoft’s Security Chief advises that surfing the web with Internet Explorer may put the user in “peril.” These days Microsoft has been working on Edge, a privacy-focused web-browser built on Google’s open source Chromium Project.

Let’s set aside the mainstream browers for a moment while we explore two lesser known, but adored by fan, portals to the web.

Mozilla’s FireFox

Image result for firefox logo

Anecdotally, Firefox seems to be what we at Privacy Daily get in response from most power-privacy users when asking what their daily driver is. Current market-share has Firefox holding onto some 8% of all users, outpacing Microsoft’s Internet Explorer even without a new-out-of-the-box setup on hardware. This bodes well for Firefox, who looks to stand the test of time in the browser wars. In terms of privacy and security, its head and shoulders above the mainstream crowd. Some of my favorite privacy-centric features running stock on Firefox are enhanced tracking protection against data-collection and alerts, letting you know if your information was compromised in another company’s data breach.

Basic Attention Token’s Brave

Image result for brave logo

Of the five mentioned, Brave, a Chromium-based browser, dons the most robust privacy-focused settings at the time of installation with ever-increasing support and updates built upon this. Being that Brave was built on Google’s open-source Chromium project, Brave is compatible with the beefy extensions library that Chrome is privileged to. Brave has the bonus of letting your web-browsing work for you, and not the other way around with a built-in cryptocurrency wallet that allows for you to make money while watching opt-in advertisements or by receiving tips for the content you create. Tips and ad revenue is paid in BAT (Basic Attention Token).

Private Window with TOR

Other browsers claim to have a “private mode,” but this only hides your history from others using your browser. Brave lets you use Tor right in a tab. Tor not only hides your history, it masks your location from the sites you visit by routing your browsing through several servers before it reaches your destination. These connections are encrypted to increase anonymity.” -Brave

About the author

Christopher Reeder is ODIN Blockchain’s Lead Content Strategist and Technical Writer. As an advocate and researcher, he is exploring technology’s impact on privacy.

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Published by Christopher Reeder

Making technology easier to understand.

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