If you were to check which apps you use the most on your Windows PC, the browser would probably top the list. There is a very good chance that browser would be Google Chrome, since it is by far the most popular app of its kind in the world.
But if you care about security, there are plenty of better options than Chrome. So, what are the safest, most secure web browsers for Windows that also protect your privacy?
Launched some 20 years ago, as a safer and lighter alternative to Internet Explorer and similar browsers, Firefox quickly became known for its security and privacy features. Today, Firefox has millions of users and remains a great option for those who want a fast and reliable browser, but care about privacy and data protection.
Firefox is open-sourced, frequently updated, and supports all sorts of extensions and add-ons, which should be more than enough for the average user.
But Firefox has attracted more advanced users for a reason: it is highly customizable.
Even simple tweaks, like enhancing tracking protection (the browser has Standard, Strict, and Custom privacy levels, which you can tinker with in the Privacy & Security settings area), can make all the difference.
Via the Privacy & Security menu, you can also choose how Firefox handles the files you download, enable or disable automatic updates, manage tracking and cookies exceptions, and tinker with various other security and privacy features.
Firefox has staying power for a reason. Even after two decades, it is one of the best privacy- and security-focused browsers on the market, suitable for both novice and advanced users.
Download: Firefox (Free)
Brave has grown rapidly since its release in 2019, attracting tech enthusiasts at first, and then tens of millions of users—and for good reason.
What makes Brave unique is that you don’t need to tinker with the settings, or install adblockers and other extensions to search the web safely and privately: this is all built-in.
For a start, Brave automatically tries to change all websites to HTTPS (more secure than HTTP sites, due to encryption), blocks ads, scripts and trackers
Not having to install adblockers and extensions is obviously great, but the downside is that some pages won’t always load completely, though you can easily bypass this issue by turning off the Shields feature.
But because it blocks ads, trackers, and scripts by default, Brave is incredibly fast, so the potential hassle of turning off Shields on occasion is most definitely worth it.
Additionally, Brave has built-in access to the Tor network, which conceals not just your location, but also makes it much more difficult for anyone to track your behavior online. Granted, Tor in and of itself is not completely anonymous, but just by having this feature available out-of-the-box, Brave is miles ahead of most browsers out there in terms of both privacy and security.
Download: Brave (Free)
3. Pale Moon
If you like Firefox for its customizable features, then you will love Pale Moon, which originated as a fork of Firefox and is by far the most customizable browser available today.
Pale Moon’s official motto is “Your browser, Your way,” which says a lot about its user base: this is a browser for advanced users, computer hobbyists, people who like to play around with software in general. If you fall into that category, you’ll hardly find a better browser than Pale Moon, which has syncing capabilities, security indicators, and a detailed permission manager.
In the permission manager, you can block any domain from storing your cookies and data, showing pop-ups, installing extensions, loading images, and more.
Most browsers allow users to set a general cookie and data policy, but few allow you to set specific rules and limitations for each domain you visit, so Pale Moon is certainly unique in this respect.
Pale Moon also has its own plug-ins, as well as a number of custom themes. And more importantly, as an open source program, it has a very active developer community, which means its regularly updated and therefore improved.
Pale Moon’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness: it is a one-of-a-kind browser with solid privacy and security features, but it is simply not for everyone. If you’re a tech enthusiast, you’ll probably love it. And if not, you’re better off with Firefox or Brave.
Download: Pale Moon (Free)
Tor, short for The Onion Router, is essentially a protocol that enables anonymous internet communication by sending the user’s traffic through different servers, thus obscuring their browsing.
The Tor Browser is the official browser for this project and, much like Pale Moon, it is essentially a modified version of Firefox.
By default, Tor will hide your IP address, location, and other data that would be used to identify you or track your online behavior and internet browsing patterns. You can easily enhance these default privacy and security settings by clicking the Shield icon next to the browser’s URL bar and changing the Security Level from Standard to Safer or Safest.
Via the Security Settings page, you can also disable certificates, enable HTTPS-Only Mode, and modify other privacy settings as per your liking.
While it provides essentially maximum security and privacy, Tor is very simple and easy to use, so it is a good option for both casual and intermediate users.
So, what are the downsides? In short, performance. Tor is much slower than other browsers—Firefox and Brave, for example, are around two times faster.
As an online privacy tool, Tor is indispensable, but if you care about performance and speed and need a secure browser that you can use daily to navigate the web, consider other options.
Download: Tor (Free)
The Best Browser for Security and Privacy
Windows is the world’s most widely-used operating system and, like all systems, it has its vulnerabilities, so it will always be targeted by cybercriminals. Since security and privacy go hand in hand, your web browser is the first line of defense against both cyberattacks and data tracking.
Firefox, Brave, Pale Moon, and Tor are all great browsers that will enhance your security and protect your data, but none of them is perfect or completely anonymous.
At the end of the day, your online security and privacy are in your hands, so make sure you always follow basic cybersecurity rules when browsing the web.
Read the full article here