10 Best Secure Web Browsers for Privacy in 2020 (TESTED)

Benjamin Walsh Last Updated by Benjamin Walsh on October 12, 2020

You might be happily using a popular browser like Chrome, Safari, or Firefox without knowing that your privacy’s at risk. That’s because your browser stores vast amounts of personal data, like your website history, login credentials, and autofill details. Even in “private” or “incognito” mode, your browser may still reveal your location and device to third-party sites, trackers, and advertisers.

That’s why it’s critical to use a trustworthy browser. I tested over 20 browsers and found the 10 best options for 2020, all of which will safeguard your sensitive data instead of sharing or selling it.

To maximize your privacy, I also recommend you use a quality VPN in combination with a secure browser. Unlike a browser, a VPN encrypts your entire internet connection (not just your browser traffic), so you’re completely hidden from spying third parties.

Try a quality VPN for free for 30 days!

Quick Comparison Table: Which Browser Is the Most Secure in 2020?

Secure Browser Security Privacy Extensions Platforms
1. The Onion Router (Tor) Excellent Excellent Some No iOS
2. Ungoogled Chromium Excellent Excellent Some No iOS or Android
3. Epic Privacy Browser Good Good Some All
4. Mozilla Firefox Good Good Many All
5. Brave Excellent Excellent Some All
6. Apple Safari Good Average Some Mac and iOS
7. Vivaldi Good Average Many No iOS
8. Opera Good Average Many No iOS
9. Google Chrome Good Below Average Many All
10. Microsoft Edge Average Average Some All

Safety Tip: The right secure browser can be an effective privacy tool, but it doesn’t offer the same level of security that a VPN does. A VPN encrypts your entire internet traffic (not just the browser), so you can protect your personal data at all times. Try a top-rated VPN for free for 30 days!

How I Tested and Ranked Each Web Browser

I used the following criteria to evaluate each browser:

  • Advanced security features: Secure browsers should have zero weak spots for hackers to exploit, and regularly update its defensive features.
  • Strong privacy policy: Your personal data shouldn’t be tracked, shared, or sold to make money. At the very least, you’ll have the option to opt out of data collection and any other practices that breach your privacy.
  • Support for secure extensions: Extensions can boost your browser’s functionality, but not every extension is secure or private. Some will even track everything you do during a browsing session. Secure browsers should block any extensions that may compromise your device’s security.
  • Multi-platform support: Browsers need to be compatible with Windows, Android, Mac, iOS devices, and other popular devices.

10 Best Secure Web Browsers (Tested October 2020)

1. The Onion Router (TOR) — Highly Secure With Encrypted Connections for Privacy

Screenshot of Tor Browser homepage with icons and search engine features highlighted

  • Hide your location and prevents you from being tracked by third parties
  • Never collects or shares your browsing data
  • Works on Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux

Short for The Onion Router, Tor is a highly private browser with multiple layers of encryption layers to protect your online activity. When you connect to Tor, your data flows through multiple volunteer “nodes” (individual computers that are part of the network). It’s practically impossible to trace any data back to your device. This makes Tor an excellent browser if you’re a journalist, whistleblower, or conducting sensitive research in a country with restrictive internet laws.

Tor comes pre-installed with 2 extensions: HTTPS Everywhere (automatically upgrades website security) and NoScript (prevents vulnerable software like JavaScript from running). I don’t suggest adding any further extensions as this could affect your privacy in unknown ways..

Unfortunately, Tor is quite slow as your data needs to jump through several nodes before it reaches the internet. I found it took up to 30 seconds to connect to a website.

Visit Tor Browser

2. Ungoogled Chromium — Daily Updates to Guarantee the Latest Security Features

Screenshot of Chromium's homepage

  • Never tracks, collects, or shares your browsing data
  • Removed all code specific to Google web services (e.g. Google Host Detector)
  • Works on Windows, Mac, and Linux

Ungoogled Chromium is a Chromium-based browser, which is a free and open-source software originally started by Google. However, it’s much more secure and has no links to the tech giant. In fact, Ungoogled Chromium has completely freed itself from Google’s trackers and host detectors (tools that identify your IP address). None of your browsing history is logged or shared with any third parties.

Unlike many browsers, Ungoogled Chromium has daily updates to its software. This keeps the browser highly-secure, since any known weaknesses are immediately patched. However, you’ll have to update the browser manually (there are no automatic prompts or reminders). As a safety precaution, make sure you only download new updates from the official website.

Visit Chromium

3. Epic Privacy Browser — Automatically Deletes All Browsing Data

Screenshot of Epic Privacy Browser homepage with features highlighted

  • Blocks ads and trackers
  • Never collects or shares your browsing data
  • Supports Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS

Another Chromium-based browser, Epic Privacy Browser is a Chromium-based browser with strong security and privacy practices. All your browsing activity is stored locally in your device and automatically deleted once you close the browser. All ads and web trackers are blocked as well, and none of your browsing activity is shared with third parties.

Epic Privacy Browser only supports a small selection of pre-installed extensions, which is good to see as many unsafe extensions will track your device. One of its most useful extensions is the built-in proxy with servers in the US, Canada, France, Germany, India, and a few more countries.

The only minor concern I have is Epic Privacy Browser’s true open-source nature. While Ungoogled Chromium allows anyone to access its code online, Epic only lets you access the files if you contact the team directly and provide information on your background first.

Visit Epic Private Browser

4. Mozilla Firefox — Highly Customizable and Supports Many Browser Extensions

Screenshot of Firefox's homepage with features highlighted

  • Blocks ads and trackers
  • Collects some data when you use certain features (e.g. search and location)
  • Works on Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, and Linux

Mozilla Firefox has strong privacy protection features, and it supports a wide range of extensions for further customization. Plus it regularly releases automatic browser updates, so you don’t have to worry about potential security issues.

The browser blocks all ads and trackers, and none of your browsing history is logged. Firefox does collect non-identifying data about how you use the browser, but it’s never sold or shared with third parties. The collected data is purely for software improvement and you can opt out at any time.

While it does take some time to find all the right plugins and extensions for your needs, it’s worth the time if you want to safely use Firefox as your go-to browser.

Visit Mozilla Firefox

5. Brave — Good for Privacy and Security (Even With Unique Ad Platform)

Annotated screenshot of Brave browser homepage, highlighting features and customization settings

  • Blocks ads and trackers
  • Doesn’t keep any identifying logs
  • Works on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux

Running on Chromium, Brave is a relative newcomer on the market but comes with a range of strong security and privacy options. All your browsing data is stored locally on your device, so you can delete it whenever you like — Brave can’t see or access any of your data at all.

You’ll also find blockers for ads, trackers, and browser fingerprinting (stops websites from detecting your operating system and device). I especially like its Private Windows feature, which connects you directly to Tor for greater anonymity.

Some users might be nervous about Brave’s introduction of ads (“Brave Ads”). However, I don’t find any large cause for concern. The browser still natively blocks all invasive trackers, so you won’t be targeted by spyware posing as ads. All ad matching occurs directly on your device, where your browsing history is saved, so none of your private data is shared or sent with any third parties.

Visit Brave

6. Apple Safari — “Sandboxes” Tabs for Overall Browser Security

Screenshot of the Safari secure browser homepage

  • Blocks ads, trackers, and malware-infected websites
  • Stores browsing data locally (but it’s easy to delete)
  • Only available on Mac and iOS

Apple Safari offers its own secure browser for Mac and iOS devices, and it’s quite impressive in terms of its privacy protection. Every individual tab is “sandboxed”, which means that each tab is a self-contained browsing session. This compartmentalization ensures that if an open tab is infected by malware, all your other open tabs (and the browser as a whole) will remain safe.

You can store all data locally on your device (not on the browser), and activate blockers for trackers, ads, and malware. Even if you want to store data on the browser, I found it easy to locate and delete my browsing history and cookies. There’s also an in-built password manager and private browsing mode.

Safari only supports App Store browser extensions, but make sure that you’re careful in your selection. Some of these extensions can track your activity, so your data privacy isn’t always protected.

Visit Safari

7. Vivaldi — User-Friendly Browser but Privacy Policy Is Weak

Screenshot of Vivaldi homepage with some features highlighted and annotated

  • Blocks ads and trackers
  • Collects identifying data and tracks your device’s location
  • Works on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android

Vivaldi is a Chromium-based browser that’s very easy to use and navigate. However, you’ll need to customize the privacy settings before you use it. I suggest selecting “block trackers and ads”, as well as opting into “Phishing and Malware Protection”. You can also turn off several Google features, including auto-fill, safe browsing, and search suggestions.

Unfortunately, I did have a few privacy concerns. Vivaldi requires you to register your name, birthday, and email to create an account. In addition, the privacy policy is quite intrusive — your device is assigned a unique ID and its location is tracked daily.

Visit Vivaldi

8. Opera — Decent for Privacy With In-Built Proxy Service

Screenshot of Opera homepage with VPN and sidebar highlighted

  • Blocks ads and trackers
  • Private browsing mode doesn’t collect or store any personal data
  • Works on Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux

Opera is a Chromium-based browser with decent privacy options. You can choose to block all ads and trackers, as well as store all browsing data on your device. There are also in-built privacy tabs, which operate similarly to other browsers’ private or incognito mode.

The most unique feature is Opera’s pre-installed VPN, which operates more like a proxy service. Unfortunately, you can only choose from 3 vague server locations (Americas, Europe, and Asia), so you’ll never know which country you’re actually connected to. This comes with significant privacy risks, especially if you’re browsing sensitive online topics or downloading torrents.

Visit Opera

9. Google Chrome — Popular but Shares Your Data with Google

Screenshot of Google Chrome homepage with some features highlighted

  • Provides the option to block cookies and trackers
  • Browsing data is tracked, collected, and shared with Google
  • Available on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux

Chrome is a popular browser but very few users know the full scope of its privacy failings. Chrome shares all your online activity and data with Google, as well as third-party advertisers. Your personal data is then used by advertisers to target you with personalized ads.

Despite its privacy shortcomings, Chrome is relatively secure and undergoes regular updates to eliminate known weak spots. If you want to keep using Chrome as your main browser, I highly recommend you block all cookies and trackers in “Settings” (this must be enabled manually). You can also download browser extensions to block ads and malware, such as uBlock Origin or Privacy Badger.

Visit Google Chrome

10. Microsoft Edge — Reasonably Secure but Known to Have Vulnerabilities

Screenshot of Microsoft Edge homepage with some features highlighted

  • Blocks ads and trackers
  • InPrivate browsing mode doesn’t store or track any personal data
  • Works on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS

Microsoft Edge is a decent browser but it has a history of vulnerabilities. While most known issues have been fixed, there’s always the possibility that new weaknesses will be discovered. To keep your device safe, I suggest you download the Microsoft Defender extension (detects and blocks malware) and switch on the block for ads, trackers, and cookies. It’s also best practice to always use the InPrivate private browsing mode, which doesn’t store your activity or link it to your Microsoft account in any way.

Visit Microsoft Edge

3 Easy Tips for Safer Browsing on the Internet

1. Get a VPN to Encrypt Your Internet Traffic

Even the most secure browser on the market doesn’t encrypt your internet connection. Unfortunately, an unencrypted connection can let hackers, government agents, or your Internet Service Provider (ISP) see precisely where you are and what you’re doing.

A VPN will protect you by encrypting your traffic and hiding your Internet Protocol (IP) address. I’ve tested 157 VPNs and the best option I’ve reviewed for 2020 is NordVPN. It has powerful privacy and security features, including a kill switch, military-grade encryption, and a strict no-logs policy. You can even use NordVPN to unblock streaming services like Netflix and anonymously download torrents.

But don’t take my word for it. You can try out NordVPN risk-free with the 30-day money-back guarantee. I signed up myself to confirm the process, and it works! It was quick and easy to get a full refund over the 24/7 live chat service.

Screenshot of NordVPN customer service rep processing a refund
It was easy and hassle-free to get a full refund from NordVPN

Try NordVPN for free for 30 days!

2. Use a Private Search Engine for Uncensored Web Browsing

Popular search engines — like Google Bing, and Yahoo — will monitor and store your search history. It doesn’t matter what browser you’re using or if you’ve switched to incognito mode — your preferences and clicks are still being tracked. Unfortunately, popular search engines also control the results appearing on the page. You’ll only find links that you’re “allowed” to see.

I recommend using a private search engine like DuckDuckGo or StartPage. These search engines are committed to keeping your web searches completely private. There are no user or search data logs, censored results, or tracker-filled ads.

3. Switch to Anonymous Email to Send Encrypted Messages

Your browser might be secure, but your email is still vulnerable to third-party hacking and surveillance. Fortunately, an anonymous email service will encrypt the contents of your messages. Services like ProtonMail and Tutanota will even let you create an anonymous email address for free. You can even sync up your inbox with regular email providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook.

FAQ

😎 What’s the best browser without ads and tracking?

I tested the best secure browsers for 2020 and the #1 choice without ads or tracking is The Onion Router (Tor). It doesn’t track your online activity or log your data, and it regularly updates any weak spots in the software. This is in stark contrast with popular browsers (like Google Chrome), which sell your private browsing data to advertisers and other third parties.

If you want to avoid being tracked entirely, the best option is to download a quality VPN. A VPN encrypts your entire internet connection — not just your individual browser. This means you can safely use apps and programs (like Netflix and Bittorrent clients) without anyone spying on your activity.

😇 What’s the most secure browser for Windows, Android, Mac, and iPhone?

All the top 10 secure browsers for 2020 work well on some or all of these devices. The Onion Router (Tor) is ideal for online anonymity, although it’s not available on iPhone or iPad. Epic Private Browser is another top choice for everyday use, and it supports Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. All browsers take less than 1 minute to download and install across all devices and operating systems.

🤓 What are some popular browser extensions for privacy?

Here are the most secure browser extensions, which I tested with the 10 best secure browsers for 2020:

  • HTTPS Everywhere — Automatically upgrades every website you visit to HTTPS (instead of the insecure HTTP)
  • uBlock Origin — Blocks known ads, trackers, and malware in your browser
  • Privacy Badger — Blocks new and unknown ads, trackers, and malware
  • Disconnect — Allows you choose specific trackers to block on individual websites

Should I use more than 1 browser?

Yes, you should use more than 1 browser (and I suggest you choose from this vetted list of proven secure browsers). You’ll have more control over your personal privacy when you use different browsers for certain online activities. For instance, you could use Epic Privacy Browser for your everyday browsing but switch to Tor for more confidential matters.

That being said, even a secure browser won’t keep you completely safe online. I suggest you use a quality VPN if you’re seeking privacy and anonymity. A VPN will employ military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and advanced security protocols to prevent hackers, legal authorities, and other third parties from spying on your device.

What’s a secure browser?

A secure browser is one that doesn’t track your online activity or log your data, and actively avoids software vulnerabilities. Most of the popular browsers have some security features to protect you, like blocking malicious websites and suspicious downloads. But even with these features, browsers like Google Chrome will track your activity, including when you’re using its Incognito mode.

What’s a private browser?

A private browser lets you use the internet without storing your browsing data, including a record of sites you’ve visited, search queries, and login details and passwords. One of the most well-known private browsers is Google Chrome’s Incognito mode.

The trouble with private browsers is that while they don’t store temporary activity data on your device, your activity can still be seen by your ISP, the network you’re using (at school or work, for example), or anyone watching. The websites you visit can also see your browsing session. If you want to avoid storing browsing data and keep your online activity anonymous, I suggest you use a secure browser from this tried-and-tested list.

Combine a Secure Browser With a VPN For Maximum Privacy

It’s not always obvious to understand whether a browser is truly secure or not. However, every browser on this page offers a decent level of privacy (even if you need to adjust the settings on your own).

To further improve your online security, I highly recommend combining a secure browser with a VPN. With a quality VPN, you can hide your real location and encrypt your entire internet connection. This ensures that no one can see where you are or what you’re doing online — not even your VPN itself. The best VPNs (like NordVPN) even have a money-back guarantee, so you can try it out without any risk.

Try NordVPN for 30 days risk- free!

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Benjamin Walsh
After earning his degree in Business, Ben decided to pursue his passion for marketing, writing and content development within the technology and cyber security industry. He would like to continue traveling and embracing other countries and cultures while furthering his career.