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  • Browsers with the best security and privacy in 2021

    Home » Forums » AskWoody blog » Browsers with the best security and privacy in 2021


    ISSUE 18.46 • 2021-11-29 PUBLIC DEFENDER By Brian Livingston Most of us use a Web browser on our personal computers or smartphones every day, but few
    [See the full post at: Browsers with the best security and privacy in 2021]

    Viewing 17 reply threads
    • #2403959

      As an example of a worst-case scenario, owners of iPhones were victimized by “zero-click” malware called Pegasus from May 2018 through July 2021. It reportedly infected 50,000 users worldwide — largely journalists and human-rights activists — without their even picking up their oh-so-smart phones. As described in a CNBC article, no matter what browser was installed, it was no help!

      Pegasus hack has nothing to do with browsers and does not belong in this ‘browsers security privacy’ post.
      Pegasus hack has been transmitted via iMessage, WhatsApp.. text message
      Android and Windows devices were also victims of Pegasus.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2403960

        True. There are lots of other, much more relevant issues with web browser security and privacy, to consider.

        -- rc primak

    • #2403961

      Very good and informative article. The bit about Pegasus, as noted by Alex5723, is not a browser-based attack. But otherwise, much useful information and very good links to resources. Worth sharing with friends, family and colleagues.

      I am seriously considering doing some of my online business through Brave if possible, based on this and many other recommendations. It’s good to see the details supporting this choice all in one place.

      -- rc primak

    • #2403970

      I would love to be able to read the article….but there is one thing I absolutely HATE and that is newsletter subscriptions. Why can’t I just read the article at this site NOW when it is new and relevant? I still haven’t joined this site (Plus membership) as wonderful as it is for computer security, etc information. The reason being that I absolutely HATE newsletters…I hate anything that comes in email. I am not against paying for Plus membership…I just hate newsletter subscriptions. I LOVE forums and love websites that have great information (like this one) AND share that information on the website rather than in email subscriptions. I’ve learned to “make do” here by reading the forum discussion on an article like this…but it is a shame I have live with the crumbs.

      • #2403974

        Same, been coming to the site less and less because of this.

      • #2403981

        As a Plus member, you can unsubscribe from the newsletter emails and still read the newsletter, when it comes out, on the website by signing in. This is what I do.

      • #2403982

        They have bills to pay, too.

        I signed up for the Plus membership with an email address I rarely look at any more, so I couldn’t even tell you if they send out a newsletter or not. But if they do and I didn’t want to see it, I would just set up an email filter to automatically delete the emails before I even saw them.

        There’s too much valuable information here to not be a Plus member.

        • #2404011

          Thank you.  Yes Brian doesn’t donate his time.  Nor does the web hoster. Nor does Fred.   As Marcus pointed out, all you need to do is let me know and I can unsubscribe you from the newsletter.

          Many readers only go to the newsletter and do not come to the site at all.

          Susan Bradley Patch Lady

      • #2403992

        Links are on the blogpage for non members also, time to get eyes tested me thinks..

        one redmond way, it's THAT obvious!
      • #2404010

        FREE EDITION: Browsers with the best security and privacy in 2021


        Click there.  For the Thanksgiving edition the free and paid are the same version.  All you have to do is click on the “free” link and you are getting what the paid version is.

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady

      • #2404052

        cough up a freaking buck or just go away


        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
        3 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2404396

          Brave is not supported in many sites one needs to use. The same is true with other safer browsers mentioned here. Only Chrome and FireFox are more or less guaranteed to be useful at every site of any possible interest to AskWoody’s anonymous visitors and loungers.

          I am not writing this to deprecate Brave and whatever else people here are recommending, but a touch of reality seems to be needed in this thread and, so far, appears to be lacking.

          As to my own experience relevant to this topic:

          For quite a few years I have used Internet Explorer, then adding Waterfox (after some forgettable experiences with FireFox) in order to stream HTML5 content. (I had IE 11 last, on Windows 7, and and HTML5 client was not included in IE until Windows 8.1 came out and the corresponding IE 11 version did include it, but I never upgraded from Win 7 to 8.1.)

          I am using, at present, the last version of Waterfox’s  (“Current”) for most things, except for browsing at those sites where it is not welcome, and those I browse with Chrome.

          I use Intego, an AV recommended by Nathan Parker for my Mac — I used to have Webroot Secure Anywhere for years for my Widows PC and for the Mac, until an update to macOS Big Sur” with the Mac made Webroot flaky. I also scan my SSD with Malwarebytes.

          Never, in more than 22 years using my own computers at home I have been seriously inconvenienced by malware. Or I have been seriously harassed by spammers and con artists or by personally targeted ads. So I am rather skeptical about the repeatedly expressed preoccupation on which browsers are safer, more discreet, etc. I am strict about choosing which emails I bother to open and which I trash, which Websites I visit, and follow common browsing hygiene practices, as well as installing in the Waterfox browser such things as uBlock Origin, Privacy Badger, Tampermonkey and an adblocker (this one both in Waterfox and Chrome). I am not in Facebook, Twitter, etc. etc.

          The main reason for this attitude of mine: I have one life to live and not a lot of time to do it.

          And that is all I can tell you about this topic.

          Ex Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7) since mid-2020. Now: running macOS Big Sur 11.6 & sometimes, Linux (Mint)

          MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
          Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
          Waterfox "Current" and (now and then) Chrome; also Intego AV and Malwarebytes for the Mac.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2404399

            Oscar, thank you for this post. Wish I had seen it before installing Brave and posting my concerns below [], it would have saved me a lot of bother.

            I’ve been using a lot of browsers over the years, and common sense and not clicking links in emails or opening suspicious emails has saved me a lot of heartache. So I’ll stick with my current browser [Windows 11 PC, browsing with Edge for the last year or two, after Chrome].

    • #2403971

      Just wanted to thank you for this article.  I just installed Brave and I’m impressed by it.

    • #2403996

      As a Vivaldi user for some time I am disappointed at the tone of this article. Within the first para there is an apology for selecting a VERY limited subset of the features of the browsers.

      The original PCMag review quoted selected the ‘best’ for ad blocking and avoiding other annoying features is Vivaldi.

      I would wager that a lot of Woody readers would be looking to avoid being hassled. After years of browsing, starting with very obscure Scandinavian apps, and graduating through Opera and the like I have opted for Vivaldi for their ad-blocking prowess and the myriad of selectable options.

      Give it  try, a proper one, studying the options and I think you will be satisfied.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2404365

        Except that ad blocking still allows spying. Look into installing uBlock Origin, and use in advanced mode.

    • #2403997

      Hi Brian

      I’ve been using Brave for awhile and I like it except for the annoying brave rewards thing.  If the developers of Brave browser are trying to generate income, I would prefer paying for it through a donation or something like many other software developers do.  That said, I know that Brave rewards can be disabled in settings, but what about the other settings?  Brave has more configurability than most browsers I’ve used and I would be interested in what settings you disable/enable in Brave and for what reason.  Or maybe others here could chime in with their recommendations?

      In a related topic, I also wanted to ask if there is an easier way around changing the default browser in Windows 11?  It appears that Microsoft is now requiring you to change all the extension defaults associated with your preferred browser (if it’s not Edge) instead of just one click like in Windows 10.

    • #2404012

      Very interesting.

      However, I wonder if those leaks are with default settings. Firefox doesn’t look too bad. You can disable telemetry. Of course, they at least should ask you when installing for the first time, as a privacy focused browser. Still, some things seem pretty minor if kept on the company’s server and not used for tracking, advertising or selling. Safari seem pretty good, too. This just reinforces my perception that Apple is more serious about privacy like it says it is and that Microsoft and Google are not software companies I want to encourage the practices.

      I find it sad that Firefox is loosing ground so much, because it is still a great browser in many ways and they always tried to save privacy much more than the big competitors, which I respect, although they made a few mistakes here and there.

      However, the arguments for Brave are compelling, the person at the head of it having a very good well-deserved reputation for his contribution to technologies that are better for the user. For now, I am sticking with Firefox but maybe if it falls, for sure Brave will top my list.

      It would have been interesting to see where Vivaldi stands, too.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2404026

      With regards to privacy, I’m surprised there is no mention of the “Global Privacy Control” (GPC), which sends a ‘Do Not Sell’ (do not sell my data to third parties without my consent) to websites, considering it is under the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act)
      Brave has that facility in-built and Mozilla is still experimenting /nightly’s although available via EFF Privacy Badger or Disconnect extensions for Firefox and various other browsers.
      As far as I’m led to believe, this is also a GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) privacy right tool.
      Whether websites adhere to the request is another matter akin to the DNT – Do Not Track.

      one redmond way, it's THAT obvious!
      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2404069

      Remember the Tasks for the weekend – August 28, 2021 – trying out new browsers, where Susan recommends having multiple ones installed and trying them out, and for the Brave browser that Brian recommends I will share some links for general guidance concerning Brave browser:
      Best Privacy Settings For Brave Browser

      “While the out-of-the-box defaults are a massive improvement over other privacy invading browsers (ahem, Chrome) there are still a few tweaks we can make to improve it even further. This guide is designed for those power users out there; some of the settings we are changing may break your browsing experience so it’s important to understand each setting.”

      This article may be a little dated, the website shows no author or date, but according to my Print Friendly & PDF extension, the article date is April 7, 2020, and I think it is a good article to review to learn available options. I gotta smile at this next website name: Tinfoil My Life. They also have an article about “Brave Browser’s Settings Aren’t Perfect By Default” Remember Susan Bradley’s advice and ‘Hover’ over links to read website url address that usually shows up at bottom left in my web browsers,
      Secure Your Brave Browser Even More by Changing Some Settings
      Some more information concerning Brave Rewards and crypto wallets:
      Completely disable crypto wallet and brave rewards features.
      can be found at this above link, X near top right removes info panel.
      On all my browsers I take the 15 to 30 minutes necessary to go through and review ALL available Settings, Options, Preferences, and adjust to my satisfaction. Also, keep your browsers up to date for security, because that is you on the World Wild Web, with hackers, anything goes, so stay safe, and private.

      5 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2404124

        Thanks for the links. Very helpful.

      • #2404366

        Unfortunately, Brave’s fake privacy has always betrayed its users’ privacy to the spyware called google fonts. You can use the Devtools’ Network tab to see that. Do any of your cites warn about google fonts being deliberately allowed through?

    • #2404125

      Another excellent article from Brian.

      There is something to be said for using two browsers, one for general web use and the other for more sensitive stuff.  I have seen this strategy described as the second level of security, the third being to use two different devices.

      But watch out for the temptation to use the second browser for general web purposes when the first one doesn’t work right.  It’s important to keep the second browser as clean as you can.

      I have been using this approach for a couple of years now.  My browser choices were consistent with Brian’s recommedations.



      • #2404131

        Wdburt1 – I have also heard that we should use different browsers for different functions. I use Brave for everything because after each use (each function) I delete all the cookies, the cache, the browsing and download and search history, etc.  before I use it again to log in or surf.

        Does this solve the problem or do I still need to compartmentalize with different browsers? The only thing I use Firefox for is online banking as Chase does not recognize Brave – so in a way I guess I do compartmentalize!

        • #2404134

          Practically everyone here knows more than I do, but the idea behind the two-browsers strategy was explained to me this way: If malware infects the browser you use for general web surfing etc, the other one will not be compromised.  If you’re using the second browser for online banking etc., your bank is unlikely to be the source of malware.


    • #2404109

      Why can’t I just read the article at this site NOW when it is new and relevant?

      “Why can’t I just read the article at this site NOW when it is new and relevant?”

      You can. Go to this link:

      FREE EDITION: Browsers with the best security and privacy in 2021

      You can read any free newsletter article (and paid if you join) AT THIS SITE by clicking on the Newsletters/Alerts tab above the MS-DEFCON numbers. You don’t have to read them in email.



    • #2404163

      After reading Brian’s article, I immediately downloaded an installed Brave. Even though it purported to import all of my bookmarks etc from Edge, it didn’t load my most frequent ones, so I tried opening tabs and copying them one by one from Edge; still, each one would not load, even after going into settings to add each site of the first 3 to permit java at each of those sites. Most of the help questions seemed to want support for the “wallet” or “rewards”, not my priority, or were about crashes or problems with site loading dating back to 2018-2019. I was never able to load any of my sites, so I gave up.

      • #2404170

        If Javascript is the problem (and it could be), you can turn it off in Brave’s settings and see what happens. Go to Settings –> Shields –> Block Scripts and disable it.

        I have Brave on three different computers. While there are some sites that lose some functionality when scripts are blocked, I have yet to run into a site that won’t load at all in Brave.

        Casting about for explanations here… is it possible that the sites you couldn’t get to load on Brave, were sites requiring some kind of login or authentication?


        • #2404178

          I had allowed java, but nothing loaded at all, blank white screens, so, yes, these were sites that I had to login, but I never got anything loaded so that I could start to log in. Not even their home screens for strangers to see.

    • #2404242


      What are your thoughts on duckduckgo?

      • #2404364

        Anything is better than google. Even M$soft is better than using google. So then DDG is much better than google. Else there is Startpage and Swisscows. Each has flaws.

        The downside of DDG is that they have the very same mindset culturally and politically as does google.

        Ideally use Opera with VPN and one of those 3 search engines for anything sensitive.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2404692

          Bob1515 wrote:
          The downside of DDG is that they have the very same mindset culturally and politically as does google.

          Any chance you might be willing to expand on your statement, and maybe help us understand your thought process and the basis for your unexpected conclusion?

          Because I’ve used duckduckgo successfully for years, with no apparent issues, or problems, or complaints. And I truly have no idea what you’re talking about, as I’ve never noticed any real similarities culturally – or, even more importantly, operationally/commercially – between duckduckgo and google. I mean, sure, they both run search engines, but one is a pro-privacy anti-tracking champion, while the other is the 800-pound gorilla of surveillance capitalism (one of two, actually, but although facebook is a veritable fountain of bad information, it doesn’t run a search engine per se).

          But I have an open mind, and I’m willing to be educated, so please explain what you’re seeing that I’m somehow missing…

          Thanks in advance.

          3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2404312

      Hi Brian,

      Thanks for the report, very helpful!  BUT!

      I run Firefox with add-ons, Ghostery, uBlock Origin, and DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials. Surely this array of tools intended to improve security will make Firefox at least equal to the other highly rated browsers? Google doesn’t appear to have a clue where we are, as their offered weather forecast location has varied from upstate NY to coastal CA, Mobile AL, nowhere’sville Mississippi, now various places in Ohio. None of which is where we live.

      Somehow Google being confused about where I live is a good thing.

      Thanks again!

      JR in WV — oops, there I go, letting the cat out of the bag.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2404362

        “Firefox with… uBlock Origin”

        As usual online, the best comment on privacy (so far) goes unnoticed. But JR, you can simplify by just saying: “use Firefox with uBlock Origin”. E.g., Ghostery is a corporation, not a privacy advocate. However, I’d also install the addon called Decentraleyes.

        “Surely this array of tools intended to improve security will make Firefox at least equal to the other highly rated browsers?”
        Actually when you use uBO in advanced mode and block everything google, you are far better than fake-privacy Brave, or any of the others without VPN/proxy.

        “Google being confused about where I live…”
        But for location? Your IP address tells google that. Unless you are at least semi-rural, google knows your very house. That was doubly ensured when the mapmobile/spymobile came round.
        Why they seem confused? You’d have to post a case. Else you have a VPN/proxy.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2404363

      ? says;

      thank you, Brian, another most excellent article. i especially appreciate the tweaks found in Sven Taylor’s article on Browser Fingerprinting:

      Browser Fingerprinting – Explanation, Tests, and Solutions

      one change,   in:

      “privacy.resistFingerprinting” to  (true) causes ff to open smaller since it doesn’t transmit the data on screen size when engaged. small inconveience for the extra protection.


    • #2404372

      Btw, Brendan Eich has had almost ZERO to do with day-to-day developing of Brave. You can see that from way back on Brave’s Github.

      Brave is not a privacy browser. It is a money-making browser (substituting its own ad service for ads that the site wants to display). Brave merely uses privacy as a selling feature. I’d uninstalled Brave early this year; as of then, it still betrayed user privacy to google fonts. Brave does block the little spies, so in effect Brave solidifies google’s monopoly position when it only allows google.

      But add in uBlock Origin to Brave or Firefox, and now you are finally cooking. That’s if you use it in advanced mode and block google and gstatic, etc. Also add Dencentraleyes or similar, and you are even better off because if a connection to google gets through, google can’t see what page you are on anyway… for now. There is a learning curve to this.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2404417

      Good luck using Brave, etc. in sites where such browsers are not welcome. Which are perhaps a lot? #2404396

      Sorry, I intended to post that at the end of this thread, but ended replying, by mistake, to an early comment.  I hope others will read it before they accept uncritically something that is only half the truth.

      I am all for making a busy life free from unnecessary complications and fear.

      Ex Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7) since mid-2020. Now: running macOS Big Sur 11.6 & sometimes, Linux (Mint)

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      Waterfox "Current" and (now and then) Chrome; also Intego AV and Malwarebytes for the Mac.

    • #2404471

      The latest upgrade.

      I don’t think I have ever heard of Brave, but it it seems to be well known.

      Slightly wary of the latest posts indicating Google sticky fingers…..

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