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Web browsers have become an integral piece of our daily lives. Without them, we wouldn’t have access to many online resources like email, social media, shopping sites, banking apps, etc. In fact, it is safe to say that most people use a web browser every single day.
That being said, it is important to realize that even though we might think of ourselves as experts at navigating the Internet, we still don’t know everything about how it works. For example, we’re not aware of what happens behind the scenes when we open up a new tab or load a new page.
When it comes to cryptocurrencies, privacy and security are among the most important qualities to consider. The platform you use to trade crypto carries most of the responsibility of keeping your wallet and personal information safe.
However, you still need a secure web browser that protects your passwords, browsing history, and cookies. You can ensure security by keeping an image installed on a separate virtual server with your regular web browser to use exclusively for cryptocurrency operations.
If that is too complicated for you, then installing an encrypted browser helps.
Since privacy and security are the defining characteristics of an ideal crypto browser, the most secure browsers for cryptocurrencies are essentially a list of all modern browsers. However, if you want to browse crypto transactions securely, you need more than just that.
Brave is a Chromium-based browser with a built-in ad and cookie blocker (called Brave Shield) that stops advertisers from tracking you. You can also customize some features on Shields, such as device recognition blocking and script blocking. I activated Shields before doing some window shopping on Amazon, and I was pleased to see that it efficiently blocked 8 trackers. Blocking ads makes it faster than Chrome or Firefox because ads consume many resources that slow your connection down.
While regular ads can be blocked by default, Brave has its own advertising program (called Brave Ads) that displays selected ads. Its benefit is that it rewards you with a percentage of its ad revenue in BAT, which is Brave’s native cryptocurrency. The ads shown are based on your browsing history, which is stored locally on your browser. Since this data never leaves your browser, it doesn’t expose you to the privacy concerns that plague online advertising.
However, Brave was busted in 2020 for auto-completing the URLs of several cryptocurrency sites with their affiliate links. Whenever someone clicked on one of these links, they were taken to Brave’s affiliate site instead of the cryptocurrency one, which Brave profited from. While this has ceased, it raises some questions about Brave’s transparency and integrity.
Because it’s a version of Chromium (an open-source browser based on Google Chrome), it comes with some important security features built-in. Most notably, it automatically upgrades the sites you visit to HTTPS and uses sandboxing techniques. The HTTPS upgrade encrypts your online traffic, while sandboxing prevents any malware from leaving your browser and infecting your device.
Being a Chromium-based browser means that it’s compatible with Chrome extensions too. While this is convenient, you should be careful and only use extensions that don’t compromise your security and privacy. Although Brave is de-Googled, some users hesitate to use it because of its Chromium base (Google Chrome famously collects data on its users).
It also blocks browser fingerprinting, has a built-in password manager, offers customizable private windows, and provides WebRTC protection. The WebRTC protection stops websites from figuring out who you are based on tiny details (like your operating system, browser window size, graphics card model, and IP address). These details don’t reveal much on their own, but when they are linked together, they create a profile that can be used to identify you in a sea of millions of other internet users.
Some of your information can be collected by Brave too, so if you want to take your privacy to the next level, I recommend using a VPN. This will keep all your internet traffic encrypted so that no one can see what you are doing online.
Brave’s minor drawback is that it has some occasional bugs, which is typical for newer browsers. However, it has quick and regular updates, and the frequency of bugs is decreasing. But If blocking ads and scripts causes issues/bugs, then you can turn off Brave Shields to fix this issue.
If you’re an Android or iOS user, then you can use Firefox Focus, which is specifically built for these platforms. This browser provides better privacy protection than the regular Firefox because it blocks pop-up ads and any tracking attempts.
Also, Firefox makes it clear that it only collects non-identifying data to improve its software, which means none of your details will be sold to third parties. It’s also possible to optimize your Firefox browser for privacy, giving you greater control of your privacy settings.
I learned that Firefox is also an open-source browser, which means users can inspect its code and make modifications. Imagine that source code is like a recipe: Firefox shares all its ingredients and cooking instructions so you know exactly what’s going into the finished product. It also gives you permission to change the recipe to suit your tastes. Other browsers keep their recipes a secret, so you can’t thoroughly inspect them to ensure they’re as secure as they claim.
Firefox has been fully audited to ensure no leaks or security issues threaten your online privacy (most recently by cybersecurity firms Cure53 and Radically Open Security). I reviewed the latest audits, and I saw that developers and security professionals looked for vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit to steal your information. They found some minor issues, but these weren’t a risk to users, and Firefox fixed the problems immediately.
However, there were a couple of minor cons that I found when using Firefox. Firstly, finding the right extensions and configuring your browser settings for privacy and security can be quite time-consuming and difficult. These settings include disabling telemetry and enhanced tracking protection. Secondly, the padlock icon it displays to show a secured connection is tiny, which may cause you to overlook it and use an insecure site.
For an extra measure of protection, I recommend using Firefox with a VPN. Most VPNs have Firefox extensions, which makes it really easy to create a super-secure browser experience.
The Tor browser routes your data through the Onion network — a series of random nodes that make your traffic anonymous and untraceable. It encrypts your traffic three times by passing it through these nodes, preventing malicious parties from discovering your identity and location or tracking your online behavior.
With Tor, you get access to onion sites and the dark web, thanks to its network of private servers. Unlike a VPN, this network is decentralized, which means you don’t need to trust a private company with your data.
Tor uses DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine. It is similar to Google, but it gives you more relevant search results. It’s also far more secure — it doesn’t collect or share your data. It was nice to browse without having targeted ads constantly following me.
Also, none of your data is saved when you close your browser, making it very secure and private. Every window acts as its own private browser, so no data is shared between all the different windows you open.
Although Tor is built on Firefox, its developers warn that you shouldn’t use third-party add-ons because they may weaken Tor’s privacy features and reveal your private information. But since Tor already has some effective plugins, you don’t need anything else.
I was disappointed to discover that using Tor does not keep you fully anonymous, because your ISP can see that you’re using it. Also, certain websites are known to block IP addresses that are linked to the Tor network. Both these issues can be solved by using a VPN – check out how a VPN can increase your anonymity with Tor.
A minor issue I noticed is that Tor is slower than most browsers because your traffic has to travel through the Onion network’s nodes. This is secure, but it takes longer and slows your speeds because of high latency (loading a page took me 30-40 seconds). This wasn’t an issue for checking my email and browsing, but buffering made watching videos nearly impossible.
You should also be aware that the Tor network is highly reliant on US government financing and contains malicious exit nodes that significantly reduce your performance.
Waterfox is known as a Firefox fork, meaning it was initially part of Firefox’s open-source code before separating. This was done to create a secure and private version of Firefox that doesn’t require you to install separate privacy extensions. With it, you get a browser that feels like Firefox, with the strong privacy settings built-in.
An added benefit of Waterfox using Firefox source code is that it supports most Firefox extensions, including legacy add-ons that are no longer part of Firefox’s current catalog. I tested 12 plugins, including 2 discontinued extensions from Waterfox’s repository, and they all worked. Waterfox is fully customizable, which is a nice bonus. It also removes telemetry, startup profiling, data collection, and sponsored tiles to protect your privacy (without the use of add-ons).
Waterfox doesn’t track your online activity, but it does collect a tiny bit of information: your browser version and operating system. This is done to check for updates, which makes sense. To prevent online trackers from following you around, it also regularly deletes data stored on your browser. This is very efficient because it means that you don’t need to use browser cleaning tools or specialized extensions to clean your history.
I wasn’t too happy to find out that Waterfox was recently purchased by an ad company called System-1. The news broke on online forums like reddit and other websites in February 2020, and eventually Waterfox and System-1 made a formal announcement about the acquisition too. System-1 openly admits it collects data on its users, which is a bit concerning from a privacy standpoint.
Compared to Firefox, Waterfox has fewer updates, which means it isn’t always as secure as Firefox because you have to wait longer for security patches or bug fixes. On the plus side, the patches are generally just security updates, so you don’t have to worry about annoying updates to the interface (great for people who aren’t a fan of unnecessary change). While I was testing the browser, there was only one update, and I noticed no changes to the browser once I installed it.
This is another Chromium-based browser, but Epic is unique because it can redirect internet traffic through its VPN, significantly reducing your online footprint. The VPN is an extension that acts as a built-in proxy server, and it has servers in the US, Germany, France, Canada, and India.
Being a proxy server means that compared to a full VPN, it can lack security features and might record your data. However, proxy servers can still be effective for hiding browser activity from third parties like your ISP. In addition to the VPN, Epic has a small number of pre-installed extensions as well.
Another benefit of Epic is that it automatically clears your browser history when you finish your session. It also doesn’t even see what you do online because it stores your browsing history on your device rather than the browser. This also means that it deactivates autofill, spell check, and auto-sync, which rely on having access to your data. I tested its cookie deletion capabilities by logging into my email and then shutting down the browser. Sure enough, I had to log in again when I restarted the browser because my previous usage history had been cleared.
Epic also blocks ads, web trackers, RTC calls, and crypto-mining. All this means that your online behavior or analytics won’t be recorded and that cryptocurrency miners can’t use scripts to hack your computer and mine cryptocurrencies.
While all this may seem epic, this browser can be rather inconvenient to use. It never records your favorite sites for easy access, and you can’t install any add-ons, such as password managers. I liked it for simple internet searches, but it was tedious for any online activity that involved logging in.
But considering how inconvenient it was, I was surprised to find that Epic was a smooth browser to use. I could do all my usual internet activities without noticeable slowdowns, and conduct proxy searches on its servers. The proxy searches were encrypted and prioritized SSL connections, which meant they were extra secure and hidden from third parties.
Pale Moon is a Firefox-based browser that focuses on customization. Unlike other Firefox forks, Pale Moon has been stripped back to increase customization and efficiency. It also uses a browser engine called Goanna, which is a fork of an old Firefox engine called Gecko. Since it’s older, it has more security vulnerabilities.
Pale Moon’s code is entirely independent of Firefox, so it maintains its unique extensions, the list of which keeps on growing. As the browser split from its predecessor early on, my testing showed that it’s compatible with some of Firefox’s old extensions, but not any of its newer ones.
As Pale Moon split from Firefox years ago, the user experience isn’t very similar. If you’re looking for something that behaves like Firefox, with all of Firefox’s latest updates and features, you won’t find it in Pale Moon. However, you will find a basic browser with options to protect your privacy.
While the browser doesn’t have any unique privacy features, it’s got the basics covered: It’s free from invasive settings and trackers that are present in other popular browsers. As I explored its settings menu, I found that you can even set it up to never record your browsing history or accept cookies from the sites you visit without initiating a separate private window.
It’s also worth noting that it’s currently working to fully support HTML5 and CCS3, so it may have some difficulties reading certain web pages. But once these functions are supported, it will be much more user-friendly.
Ungoogled Chromium is another Chromium-based browser. That means it offers a Chrome-like experience without any risk of your data being leaked to Google. And (because it uses the same base code as Chrome) you can even use the same Chrome extensions you’re used to. I put this to the test by installing a few extensions, including LastPass and uBlock Origin, and they all worked with no issues.
Daily software updates made Ungoogled Chromium stand out to me. During the 2 weeks I tested the browser, there were 3 updates — which means that if any security bugs are found, they’re fixed before hackers can exploit them.
Ungoogled Chromium can produce so many updates because of its open-source code — there are many developers hard at work looking for security flaws and ways to improve the browser. Unfortunately, no cybersecurity firms have audited the browser, so there hasn’t been the comprehensive type of review I’d prefer to see.
While I like Ungoogled Chromium’s regular updates, I was disappointed to see that you need to install the updates manually. Added to this is that there is a lot of customization. There’s no automatic update feature or even reminders, which is a pain. Should you choose this browser, be sure to always download patches and updates from the official website; otherwise, you could put your safety at risk.
Iridium is built from Chromium and is similar to Google Chrome, but with higher levels of privacy protection. If you want a Chrome-like experience with support for Chrome extensions, minus your data and online metrics being transmitted to third parties, Iridium is a very good choice.
The browser uses a unique, privacy-focused search engine as default. It’s called Qwant and it doesn’t use any of your personal details to drive its search results. When I searched, I was pleased to discover that I didn’t get results based on my location, browsing history, or any other personal information.
An interesting thing about Iridium is that it doesn’t allow you to sign in to Google. I was surprised when I couldn’t access my Gmail account during testing, but this is just another way the browser shows its detachment from the tech giant. The developers argue that being able to sign in to Google and pass along all your info defeats the purpose of using the browser in the first place.
Even though it’s compatible with Windows and Mac, Iridium doesn’t support iOS and Android devices, so it’s not a good choice if you’re looking for something that’s mobile-friendly. Another downside is that you need to install updates manually. It’s a privacy feature, but I found constantly checking for updates to be inconvenient.
MetaMask Extension is a browser extension aimed to help you seamlessly connect with the cryptocurrency market places. This is one of the easiest gateways to the decentralized web enabling on-chain crypto payments. You can use it to send Ethereum, tokens, or collectibles anywhere, within seconds. And your digital private keys always stay safe in your pocket with MetaMask.
Crypto Browser App is a mobile app which provides Blockchain, crypto news, charts and events from around the world. You can use the app to stay updated with the latest ICO and STO releases and coins trading information.
TokenPocket Wallet is a multi-chain wallet that supports some of the main coins on the market, allowing you to buy, sell and trade them using your mobile device. It currently supports Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), EOS, TRON (TRX), IOST, Cosmos and Binance Coin (BNB).
With its powerful Web3 browser, you can interact with Decentralized Applications (DApp) and trade your ERC20 tokens, BTC and EOS in decentralized exchanges (DEX), play blockchain games directly inside the wallet. You can also get free airdrop, get your staking reward through some (PoS) mining pools and join the Decentralized Finance (DeFi) like MakerDAO.
MinerBlock Extension is a free browser extension that helps protect you against malicious script attacks where hackers use your web browser to mine cryptocurrency.
The extension uses two different approaches to block miners. The first one is based on blocking requests/scripts loaded from a blacklist, this is the traditional approach adopted by most ad-blockers and other mining blockers. The other approach which makes MinerBlock more efficient against cryptojacking is detecting potential mining behavior inside loaded scripts and kills them immediately.
Quicrypto App is a mobile app which offers a perfect solution for people who want to earn Bitcoin (BTC) and other crypto without spending any money. You can earn free crypto in many unique ways including playing games and completing surveys.
Safari is the native browser on Mac devices. It keeps you secure by blocking third-party cookies, pop-up ads, cross-site tracking, and malware. It also has anti-fingerprinting tools and machine-based learning protection, which helps quickly detect threats. I liked the built-in password manager and how easy it was to delete my browser history.
It also “sandboxes” every tab, so if you accidentally click a malware-infected link, it will only affect that window. The rest of your device is protected. However, ethical hackers managed to escape the sandbox in 2019, so this isn’t a fail-safe.
Safari’s privacy concerns make it rank low on my list. Apple is a part of PRISM, a mass surveillance program in the US, which allows the NSA to collect information like your search history and emails from Safari’s servers. Also, researchers from Google’s Information Security Engineering have proved that Apple’s ITP system leaks Safari users’ browsing history.
Another inconvenience is that Safari updates occur very randomly, meaning that there could be very little time between one update and the next.
Chrome has some adequate security features, like automatic updates, malware and phishing warnings, download scanning, and sandboxed tabs. Also, it won a couple of Pwn2Own events because hackers couldn’t breach its defenses.
As a closed-source browser, Chrome would usually concern me because Google isn’t transparent about its coding. But with its robust security features, I’m not concerned.
You can also block all cookies and trackers in its settings and download many browser extensions to boost security. Popular extensions are Privacy Badger and uBlock Origin, which actively block ads and malware. However, there’s no automatic encryption for HTTPS.
Unfortunately, Chrome raises some major privacy concerns because Google owns it. Google uses Chrome as a data collection tool. Even worse — it makes money by monitoring your browsing activity and creating targeted ads.
I initially liked that I could sync my Google account and easily access my saved passwords and browser history across devices. Then I realized this means that Chrome stores even more information than I thought, like my browsing history, bookmarks, passwords, and settings. While it may be a convenient and easy browser to use, the trade-off for privacy is huge.
It was also really laggy when I tested it because it uses more RAM than most browsers, which significantly slowed my laptop.