The Best Browsers for Privacy and Security
3 min read

The Best Browsers for Privacy and Security

Google Chrome has tricked the public into using a browser that spies on you, here are some open source alternatives that puts you in control.
The Best Browsers for Privacy and Security

For today's topic I'm going to talk about internet browsers. We use them for hours daily and for the most part it's probably the most used software on our machines, so it makes sense to choose a browser that is reliable, secure, and private.

Google Chrome has held the majority share of internet browser usage since early 2010s now, and it's a shame since Chrome is literally spyware. Google Chrome sends so much data back to Google and records everything you type in order to "better their services." There are so many open source and privacy respecting alternatives out there, and not just for browsers, but every program also. The Free Software Movement was a success and as a result of it there are now hundreds or thousands of superior free software alternatives to your everyday proprietary garbage.

Any Closed-Source Browser

If the code is not open, then you can audit the code and you can't guarantee the safety and security of the browser. So being close-source is an automatic disqualification.

Mozilla Firefox

One of the most popular open source browsers and the most used browser before Google Chrome passed it. I have a soft spot for Firefox because I've been using it all my life, I never moved from Chrome to Firefox because I started out on Firefox, and to this day I still think that Firefox is the best browser for me in terms of usability, security, and customizability.

There are a lot of things that I don't like about Firefox though. Out of the box Firefox isn't very privacy-friendly, friendlier than Chrome, but still "phones home" and sends a lot of data back to Mozilla and Google too through Google Analytics. They have Google set as the default search-engine, sends browser data back to Mozilla via "Firefox Health Report," etc... This article goes more in depth about the spyware included in Firefox by default. Firefox has also become quite a big program with lots of unnecessary features enabled by default.

Luckily for us Firefox is extremely customizable and all the above spyware options and "features" can be turned off via the about:config page. This article gives step-by-step instructions on how to make Firefox privacy-friendly. The reason why I still use Firefox despite these negatives is because Firefox often receives more security updates than the alternatives and generally has the most access to addons and extensions. The customizability is also a plus, and you can definitely tweak Firefox to be extremely hardened and privacy-friendly if you wanted to. All in all if you're willing to invest a bit of time into configuring Firefox for your specific use case you can definitely make Firefox a very secure and private browser.

Qutebrowser

I've used Qutebrowser for about 6 months or so and I loved my time with it. From a practical aspect I loved using Qutebrowser and its intuitive Vim keybindings. The browser was minimal in my opinion, didn't come with a lot of bloat, and had a decent amount of customization also. Pages loaded fast with a bare-bones user interface that let you focus on what really mattered: the site.

But from a privacy and security aspect is where Qutebrowser starts to have issues. Qutebrowser being a non-standard browser has no addons, and the only ad-blocking feature is by using a hosts file. Qutebrowser has no spyware built in at all, but in today's internet there are a few essential privacy addons and extensions that just aren't available on Qutebrowser. Stuff like uBlock Origin, uMatrix, Decentraleyes, etc... are all unavailable on Qutebrowser, which can make the internet vastly less private. This is why I don't recommend Qutebrowser if you're looking to increase your privacy.

Ungoogled Chromium

An "Ungoogled" fork of Chromium that has no spyware or tracking by default at all. In case you didn't know, Google Chrome is the closed-source version of the open-source Chromium project. While Chromium is open-source, they still have some spyware built into it by default; Ungoogled Chromium removes all the Google and spyware junk from Chromium in order to make it more private.

Ungoogled Chromium has the benefits of using an up to date browser with fairly frequent security updates and no spyware, but it has a limited amount of customization, nowhere near as much as Firefox gives you. While Ungoogled Chromium has access to all extensions available to Chrome, installing essential privacy addons can also be a bit of a hassle since Ungoogled Chromium also blocks requests to stuff like the Chrome Web Store; but if you don't mind that and don't need a lot of customization, Ungoogled Chromium is a fantastic choice for a privacy-respecting and secure browser.

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