Browsing the web

I’m often asked about web browsers. Which once should we use? Is one better than the other? How can I protect my personal data and my privacy? (Update 2021-04-11).

2021-04-11: Updated with links describing data collections done by Google.

This article is mostly about macOS browsers, but except for Safari they are all available on Windows. Many of them are available for iOS and iPadOS.

I often hear from users they have different preferences for different browsers, and that is very fine, but I also hear concerns about privacy and how much things are tracked on different web pages.

In this article I will go through various different browsers, and give it a short description. It’s not a review of either of them.

Searching the web

DuckDuckGo logo

I know a ot of people are used to google everything, but I duckduckgo it!

DuckDuckGo respects your privacy. This is also why I wrote about private DNS servers, 1.1.1.1.

Google has really been great at delivering free tools for web developers, and combined with their search engine, they are able to track almost any movement of users on any web site, and if you use it on your phone they will track your location as well.

The search results are very different between the two, but to me DuckDuckGo is giving me the results that I want.

Browser extensions

Some browser let the user install extensions, that can somehow read through the content of any page being browsed and add some functionality to it. But be aware it can inject anything to your viewed page and share all the content with whoever it wants. These are reeally dangerous to use. I advise to only use extensions that are really trusted.

Browsers

Safari

For people, like me, that have gone deep into the Apple ecosystem, using this browser is a no-brainer. Bookmarks are synchronized between devices, as well as the “Reading List”. It’s also the default browser for Handoff, so when I’m on a web page on my iPhone, I get an icon in the Dock on the Mac, and can get this page viewed there with a single click.

It protects against most of the tracking cookies, like Google Analytics & Tag Manager etc. It also protects the user from being identified on certain parameters, that Safari will answer generically, so it equall to most everybode else.

For even more security and privacy, I use “DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials” app from App Store, which is a plug-in for Safari that can block tracking cookies etc. Maybe Apple does all of this already in the latest Safari.

This is the browser I use for 99% of everything.

Brave Browser

This is a browser with the same engine as Google Chrome, but with full security and privacy built in. It even has a private Tor Browser window (see below Tor Browser to learn more about this).

If you are not using Google, but need Chrome compatibility, this is a great browser for these cases.

The Chrome extensions I have tested this browser with is all working in Brave, so they can easily be used here.

Microsoft Edge

This is a relatively new browser from Microsoft, that I would recommend for everyone with Microsoft Office 365, at least for all the Microsoft web sites and services.

The user can login to the browser and get synchronized bookmarks etc.,as It will default accept needed cookies for Microsoft, and be secure about other cookies (blocking tracking cookies). 

Google Chrome

This browser is probably the most wide used browser. I recommend this browser if you are using Google G-Suite or the like from them. You can log in to the browser and get your bookmarks synchronized between your Google browsers on other devices (as well as share all your browsing, search history, online behavior, etc. with Google/Alphabet). It does not block tracking cookies. 

It installs an updating component called Keystone, that has been critizised (at least here: chromeisbad.com).

Update: Links describing data collections done by Google

If you do not use Google G-Suite or Android, I would recommend Brave Browser instead. 

Firefox

This is the browser from the Mozilla project. It’s great, keeps the user´s privacy (block tracking cookies), is fast, etc. Everything you want or need.

I’m not using it much, but some prefer this. At least on Windows I have seen it a lot.

Opera

This is a browser from Norway. Some people really love this browser, and the shortcuts it has. It respect privacy and block tracking cookies as well as other cookies not found by the other browsers, like wordpress.org.

If you read this article from Opera, wordpress will not be able to collect statistic about that.

I cannot prevent the WordPress cookie even though this is my site.

Tor Browser

This is the browser for the “dark net” and the .onion domain. It is a very specialized use. It will not disclose you to the web host you visit, as it will connect through 3 other computers before entering the internet from an “exit node”. It should be impossible to track your online behavior with this browser. The .onion servers does not include searching, but it is this domain, that is actually the “dark net”.