Your web browser is a fast way to the world, but unfortunately it's not one-way. When you access the web, you open up the possibility of malware and cyber attacks getting onto your computer. That's why one of the first steps in creating good online security is to choose a secure browser.
When you have one or maybe two browsers installed on your computer, you are automatically at risk of cyber threats. This can happen when you want to install an application or when you access a particular website and want to download its content onto your computer.
What is a secure browser?
A secure browser is a web browser with extra security measures that help prevent unauthorised or malicious activity while you are surfing the web.
These browsers have a whitelist of approved programs and activities, and they prevent functions and actions that are not on the approved list from working.
Why should I use a secure browser?
There is anti-virus software that can tell you and help if viruses have found their way onto your computer. It's important to have that kind of protection, but it's (perhaps) even more important to prevent certain malicious actions from happening in the first place, and that's where a secure browser comes in. It's a proactive way to stay safer on the internet.
Secure browsers help prevent or limit third-party tools, such as cookies. Cookies collect your private information, such as the websites you've visited, usernames and passwords, and other tracking data. Secure browsers also do not share your identity, like some of the less secure browsers.
If you use a VPN (Virtual Private Network), it only hides your IP address, location and data sent during your browsing. Your browser can still help reveal your identity, for example through data leaks.
Different browsers with high security
If you're not sure which browser to use, there are several browsers to choose from. We review a number here, but there are of course other browsers that can be used too.
There is no single browser that provides 100% protection against cyber threats. There are, however, many browsers that offer high security and each has its own advantages.
Firefox is a robust browser, both in terms of protecting your privacy and security. It is easy to customize and offers a lot of privacy features. Mozilla Firefox is also regularly updated, which is important in terms of keeping the browser secure.
Google Chrome is a very user-friendly internet browser. It is intuitive and easy to use and includes a number of security measures.
Safe browsing features warn users if they are entering phishing websites or websites with malware embedded. The Chrome browser is optimised for multiple devices. However, Chrome has some built-in data collection tools which can make the browser a little slow.
Google Chromium is the open source version of Chrome for those who want more control over their browser.
Chromium does not contain the same proprietary code as Chrome, so it can be easier to integrate third-party software. The Chromium browser requires the user to manually update it, which can be a disadvantage if the user does not remember to keep their browser updated regularly.
Brave is a less popular browser, but still a very good browser where security is top-of-mind. Every time you close Brave, it asks you what data you want to delete.
It has several good features, such as HTTPS Everywhere, which encrypts your communications on selected websites, and script blocking. It's easy to customise, so you can choose how safe and private you want to be online.
Tor is a very secure browser option. As well as having features like clearing all cookies when you shut down websites, Tor anonymises your identity and behaviour.
It also offers integrated applications and smart features to secure your privacy, such as NoScript, which blocks potential malicious scripts.
Microsoft Edge is a browser for Windows computers and is an improvement over its predecessor Internet Explorer. Edge was developed with Windows 10 integration in mind, which has created a powerful and more efficient browser that has Cortana (Windows' answer to Alexa and Siri) integrated and several Microsoft Store extensions.
Edge's biggest advantage is that it's Windows 10 computers' native browser, so it should integrate easily with the Windows OS system in terms of power consumption and data security.
Its built-in security features, called Code Integrity Guard (CIG) and Arbitrary Code Guard (ACG), preventis the computer in downloading malware and loading it into the computer's memory.
Safari is a graphical web browser developed by Apple for iOS, iPad OS and macOS. The Apple Safari browser is very secure as it uses a number of basic security features such as Automatic Strong Passwords and Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.0.
These features are enhanced by a built-in password strength analyzer, "Sign in with Apple" functionality, Apple Pay features and increased speed and encryption. One drawback, however, is that it's only available on Apple devices, so you can't use it if you're using Android.
How to check if your browser is up to date
It's very important that you install updates regularly if your browser doesn't do so automatically. You should always have the latest version of an update.
In Chrome: To check if you're running the latest version, click on the three dots in the top right corner, then click on "Help" and "About Google Chrome".
In Edge: Here, click on the three dots at the top right, then on "Help and Feedback" and "About Microsoft Edge".
In Firefox: Here, click on the three lines at the top right and then on "Help" and "About Firefox" on Windows or open the Firefox menu and select "About Firefox" if you are using a Mac.
NOTE: Your browser can be set to English or Danish. However, the menu items you click are the same.
Security in Google Chrome
Google Chrome is one of the most popular browsers and is an obvious choice for most people.
Chrome includes a few features that control the privacy and security settings of your browser. You can see them by clicking on the three dots in the top right corner, then clicking on "Settings" and "Privacy & Security". The first is the "Privacy Guide", which you can run by clicking "Get started".
Chrome's Privacy Guide walks you through the most important security settings in Chrome, but you can also access them all separately. In the "Privacy & Security" menu item in Chrome Settings, you can select "Security" and then "Enhanced Protection" to see and access the most complex security settings.
Turning these settings on will give you higher browser security that can identify threats in advance, but it means sharing more personal data with Google that is collected from visited websites so that content can be analysed by Google.
When in "Security", check that the "Always use secure connections" and "Use secure DNS" settings are both enabled. Both implement the most secure protocols for website connections where available.
There are a few other settings that are good to change through the settings in Google Chrome. Select "Privacy and security" and then "Cookies and other website data". Here you can choose to block third-party cookies. This is the type of cookie that can track you across multiple websites when you use the internet.
Once you are in "Privacy and security", you can select "Website settings". Here you can see which websites are allowed to access your key data, such as your location, and important elements of your computer, such as your webcam.
The security of Microsoft Edge
To access the main security settings in Microsoft Edge, click on the three dots in the top right corner and select "Settings" and then "Privacy, Search and Services".
At the top of the page, you can choose how much Edge should prevent/minimize cookies and trackers. You can choose between "Basic", "Balanced" and " Strict", and the different options each have their pros and cons.
Under the "Clear browsing data" menu item, you can clear all your browsing data, including your cache that the browser has stored. Here you can also set it to delete data every time you close the browser, helping to protect your privacy and internet behaviour.
As with Google Chrome, you can block third-party cookies. You can do this under "Cookies and website permissions". Inside this section, you can also see a list of all the permissions that individual websites have.
Virtually all browsers have built-in security measures, but some have only a minimal number. Secure internet browsers, and adjusting your browser's security settings on your computer, are a good help on the road to good online security.
But always remember to be careful withd suspicious websites, pop-up ads and messages you receive online or through email. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to be vigilant and use your common sense.
Sofie Meyer is a copywriter and phishing aficionado here at Moxso. She has a master´s degree in Danish and a great interest in cybercrime, which resulted in a master thesis project on phishing.