Software Security

What is the Most Secure Web Browser? Comparison of the 6 Most Popular Browsers « TipTopSecurity

Oct, 2016

Software Security

It’s been virtually three years since my last comparability of browser safety. There have been some considerable modifications since then, so let’s take another look.

Why this doesn’t matter as a lot as you could assume

Would you park your Maserati in a nasty part of city and say, “It’s okay. The doors are locked!” No. As a result of door locks and alarm methods don’t matter in the event you do dumb things together with your automotive.

The identical might be stated of browsing the net. Visit sufficient shady websites or click the fallacious links and it gained’t matter how secure your browser is or what antivirus you employ. You will remorse it eventually.

So take what you study right here with a couple of grains of salt. We safety nerds wish to make an enormous deal about every part. Is it essential which browser we use? Positive, however with a caveat. Our conduct is much more necessary than nitpicking security measures and vulnerabilities.

I make this point merely for example that, in the finish, the majority of the duty is yours. There’s solely a lot a browser can do to protect you. I can safely say that each one of these browsers are acceptable to some extent. All of them make a very good effort to maintain you protected. With that stated, there are undoubtedly some that I might advocate above others.

The Real Browser Safety Check

Time is the solely real check of how secure a browser is. We simply can’t understand how secure they’re until hackers have poked at them with their Cheetos-stained fingers for a while. The factor is, vulnerabilities will all the time exist regardless of how gifted the programming staff is. Simply ask Google, Microsoft, Apple, or Mozilla. Many years after their software is launched, we’re nonetheless finding problems with them.

All software has something go flawed ultimately. The question is not whether vulnerabilities can be discovered, but what might be carried out about them. How does an organization reply when an exploit of their browser is discovered and the way shortly do they get a patch out?

Thankfully, all the browsers I listing right here (besides one) have been around for a very long time. And all of them get safety patches and updates in a comparatively well timed trend, so we gained’t cowl that facet in much detail.

Simply watch out in case you determine to use a extra obscure browser that’s not listed right here. Smaller improvement teams sometimes mean slower response occasions to safety issues.

Comparison Chart

*About the Browserscope score

This rating exams only certain parts of general security and shouldn’t be relied upon solely. The Browserscope undertaking is an open supply venture and recently improvement has been spotty and should not mirror the newest options. In addition to, no browser here scores under 14/17 anyway, so there isn’t much variation. For extra particulars on what features are included in the check, take a look at the web site.


Maintain scrolling if you want to know more about each individual browser and why I scored them this manner. Otherwise, listed here are my recommendations.

Google Chrome seems to be the most suitable option for safety nowadays. It’s based mostly on an excellent engine and has a history of getting new safety patches applied the most shortly.

Firefox, I’m unhappy to report, is not a contender for greatest security. However If privacy is more of a concern for you, then Firefox is the one I recommend the most.

You’ll be able to’t go mistaken with Opera. If you’d like one browser that does each security and privateness very nicely, then it will be your most suitable option. Opera is based mostly on the similar engine as Chrome and has comparable privacy polices to Firefox. I put Opera in “second place” solely by the thinnest of margins in both these areas.

Safari, as all the time, is perfectly high-quality. There are not any major issues with its WebKit engine and Apple has a history of taking safety very critically.

Microsoft Edge is additionally shaping up to be a great contender. However it solely got here out just lately so it’s a bit of too quickly to know for positive.

Simply avoid Internet Explorer. For the love of every part holy.

Browser Safety Critiques

Google Chrome

Google has lengthy had a strong status for security. Plainly status is only getting stronger.

In the most up-to-date Pwn2Own hacking competition, Chrome got here out ahead of each different browser with just one exploit being efficiently executed.

It also sports the strongest sandbox of any browser. A sandbox is an isolated surroundings which attempts to keep the internet contained and away from your system. Regardless that it has been proven to be weak earlier than, it’s nonetheless a essential function for the trendy web.

It’s additionally value mentioning that historically, Google has had the quickest response time to security vulnerabilities. The difference is slim, but nonetheless value mentioning.

For all this safety, there are all the time sure to be some weak spots. To not be missed, the use of Chrome apps could also be one of these weaknesses. But since this isn’t a evaluation of third celebration purposes, I gained’t embrace them in the remaining verdict. Simply remember that for those who use downloaded Chrome apps from the Chrome Web Retailer, you’re opening new attack vectors in your browser.

Chrome is now a mature browser. It’s been around for a decade and has confirmed to be a strong workhorse. Google’s enterprise is the web, so it solely seems natural for them to have such a deal with on it. If all you’re on the lookout for is a safe browser, Chrome can be the one to have.

However security is solely half the story. Chrome loses some sparkle if you throw privateness considerations into the combine. Google makes its billions by understanding things about you. They gather and store all the things. And what’s the greatest solution to gather that info? With a browser.

Google makes money through the use of focused promoting on you. That signifies that your shopping historical past, location, purchases, music preferences, subscriptions, on and on, are stored and analyzed extensively. They’ve even gone as far as removing ad-block software from the Google Play store with the intention to’t use it to dam their advertising.

You might not care. There’s so much monitoring completed on the web today that it in all probability gained’t matter in case you use Chrome or not. I imply, you already use the Google search engine, right? To not mention Gmail, Google Drive, YouTube, et al. Those are all Google providers as nicely. However installing their software program on your pc takes the privacy concern up a notch that some individuals gained’t like.

In fact, I don’t consider Google is going to misuse anything. It’s just good to maintain this in thoughts when you use their products.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox Logo

This saddens my coronary heart one thing fierce, but Firefox has lost its edge. It’s just turn into too long in the tooth. The underlying structure of Firefox was designed for a 2004 internet and it simply can’t sustain today.

Actually, at the Pwn2Own competitors previously mentioned, no one even tried hacking Firefox. I assume it just isn’t a critical contender anymore. Principally, Mozilla hasn’t made sufficient current safety improvements for it to be taken critically.

One of Firefox’s largest shortcomings is that it does not use a sandbox to maintain the web separated out of your system. Today I contemplate a sandbox important for most users. Each other browser I cover here makes use of a sandbox of some variety.

We’re additionally discovering some major problems with Firefox’s architecture. For example, one of the worst is that JavaScript plugins in Firefox share the similar namespace. This exposes all of your different plugins to potential assault by a malicious plugin you might have unknowingly put in. It’s really not a great thing in case your password storage plugin is uncovered like that, for example. The worst part is that this is constructed into the primary structure so can’t be fastened.

Principally, it’s time for Mozilla to scrap Firefox and rebuild it from the floor up, very similar to what Microsoft did with Edge and what Opera did three years in the past (see under).

That doesn’t necessarily imply you shouldn’t use Firefox anymore. It’s not going to matter a lot so long as your searching habits are protected and also you’re not putting in evil plugins. And it’s nonetheless getting well timed security updates for the things that they will repair.

As all the time, Firefox’s strongest level is its privacy. In truth, it’s their mission. Mozilla collects very little knowledge and doesn’t commerce info on its users. Not to mention that Firefox is utterly open supply, which none of the other browsers right here can declare. Meaning anyone can open up the source code and make sure there’s nothing shady inside.


Opera Logo

Opera is the oldest browser on this comparison, a number of months older than Internet Explorer in reality. And like Firefox, Opera was really starting to point out its age. That is, till in 2013 when it went by way of a serious overhaul.

Just shortly after writing my last browser comparability, the Opera builders ditched its proprietary engine in favor of Chromium – the similar engine utilized by Chrome and lots of other obscure browsers. Because of this, Opera has made an enormous leap forward in safety. It now uses sandboxes for searching and has all the other inherent security measures made obtainable in Chromium.

In contrast to Chrome, nevertheless, Opera lacks help for Chrome Apps. That could be an inconvenience for some, however where security is involved, the fewer attack vectors the better.

Also, having a really small market share (about 1-2%) makes it a much less juicy goal for hackers. This is referred to as security by way of obscurity, which doesn’t truly improve its security, however it also doesn’t harm.

Opera additionally has a very conservative knowledge assortment policy, just like Mozilla, even when they’re not making as huge of a deal about it. That stated, they’re still not absolutely open supply, so it finally comes right down to trust.

Opera has actually matured as a browser in the previous couple of years and I don’t hesitate to advocate it anymore.

Microsoft Edge

IE Logo

We have now a brand new entry in the lineup: Microsoft’s Edge browser. It’s only out there on Home windows 10 where it has replaced Web Explorer as the default browser.

Edge doesn’t appear to be a totally new browser. It’s almost certainly a stripped down model of IE. But this will only be an enchancment. It not supports ActiveX or Browser Helper Objects which also kills help for toolbars. These features have been widespread assault vectors in IE and won’t be missed. The end result is a way more lightweight, quicker, and undoubtedly safer browser.

Right here’s an inventory of features not supported by Edge

As well as, Edge uses a sandbox to help isolate the web from the working system. This makes it more durable to realize access to your system by way of the browser. IE has had a sandbox in some type ever since version 9, but with questionable effectiveness. This seems to not be a problem in Edge. At the very least not but.

One promising sign is that Edge handed its first real trial by hearth with aplomb, at the 2016 Pwn2Own hacking contest. It fared better than each browser besides Chrome. Thus far so good.

It’s potential that, being based mostly on IE, some of the similar vulnerabilities may have transferred to Edge. And Edge is still young, the first public model having been released only one yr in the past as of this writing. So we will’t get ahead of ourselves and make any assumptions at this point. Nevertheless it appears promising.

As for privacy, the similar situation nonetheless exists as with Internet Explorer. Edge is utterly closed supply and constructed by Microsoft. For those with critical privateness considerations it’s something to remember.

Apple Safari

Safari Logo

This evaluate is only for Safari on Mac. Safari on Home windows was abandoned a long time in the past and will never be used.

Apple Safari continues to be an excellent contender, regardless of having three out of three hacks towards it profitable in the previously talked about Pwn2Own contest. Apple has sometimes been excellent about releasing patches in a timely style.

Safari is the last main browser to be utilizing the WebKit engine since Chrome deserted it in favor of Chromium (which is just a fork of WebKit). That’s not a nasty factor as WebKit is a proven engine and does not have any recognized major points.

If security is your concern, Safari is a sensible choice. But as regular, it’s not open supply and is offered by a serious tech firm that is finally in it for the profit. That puts it in primarily the similar boat as Microsoft Edge and Chrome. I don’t assume Apple would use their collected knowledge for something dubious, nevertheless it’s just good to remember.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

IE Logo

Don’t even hassle with IE anymore until it’s completely mandatory. Only the latest version (11) is nonetheless being updated, but who is aware of for a way long. All variations 10 and under are not receiving safety updates as of the beginning of 2016. IE is positive to be deserted completely sometime soon and its retirement can’t come early enough.

Unfortunately there are some internet purposes that also require legacy extensions like ActiveX which is why it hasn’t utterly disappeared. That’s why IE11 is still included in Windows 10 as a backup to Edge. It’s buried someplace in the menus if you’ll find it. But I say depart it buried.

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