Top 8 Most Secure Web Browsers in 2020

Last updated: October 27, 2020

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Which web browser is the most secure one in 2020? The quick answer is: “None of the ones most of us use.” To find the most trustworthy browser, we evaluated a bunch of them based on the following criteria:

  • Security features – are you protected from hackers and vulnerabilities?
  • Privacy options – how much of your data is collected? Are there any tools to protect your privacy?
  • Number of available secure extensions and add-ons
  • Multi-platform support

Let’s see how browsers rank from the #1 most secure to the one you shouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.

VPNSecurityPrivacyExtensionsPlatforms
1. Tor browserVery highVery highSomeNo iOS
2. Ungoogled Chromium
HighHighManyNo iOS, Android
3. BraveHighHighFewAll
4. FirefoxHighHighManyAll
5. SafariHighMediumFewmacOS, iOS
6. ChromeHighLowManyAll, Chrome OS
7. OperaHighLowSomeAll
8. EdgeMediumLowManyWindows 10, Android, iOS, Xbox One

Most secure private and mainstream web browsers in 2020

Below is the combined list of most secure mainstream and private browsers in 2020. Naturally, we find only the private ones at the top of our list, but that doesn’t mean that a mainstream browser cannot provide you with decent security and privacy.

Tor Browser logo

1. Tor Browser – the king of private browsers

Often hailed as the undisputed king of private browsers, Tor is an open-source Firefox-based web browser that comes with a plethora of security features that protect against browser fingerprinting. As the name implies, it runs on the Tor network. On top of that, it’s regularly updated to deal with all of the new security issues.

  • Security rating: very high. By default, Tor blocks all scripts and runs in the private browsing mode. When you close your browser window, nothing is saved. This includes cookies, history, and passwords. Thus, Tor provides a less streamlined, but more secure browsing experience. Flash and Quicktime are also blocked by default to prevent anyone from hacking into your device using their security vulnerabilities.
  • Privacy rating: very high. Tor is built with privacy protection at its very core. By using a vast network of “relays” to bounce traffic around the world, Tor makes it virtually impossible to track and identify what you’re doing online. And the HTTPS Everywhere integration ensures that your data is encrypted whenever you connect to a website. These features and more make Tor the absolute champion of secure browsers in terms of out-of-box privacy.
  • Available secure extensions: some
  • Supported platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS, Android

On the negative side, Tor browser blocks scripts that may result in websites loading erratically. What’s more, Tor significantly slows down your connection because of the multiple layers it uses to hide your traffic. We also don’t recommend it for novice users as tweaking Tor browser’s settings can easily leave you vulnerable.

The fact that Tor is so secure and privacy-friendly leads many to believe it’s all you need for protection. This may be true in many cases, but for maximum security, you should consider supplementing Tor with a secure VPN service, such as NordVPN.

Ungoogled Chromium browser logo

2. Ungoogled Chromium – sans Google privacy concerns

Google Chrome is an open-source project, and Chromium is its less intrusive version that still offers most of Google’s products. But there’s also an ungoogled version that removes all links to the company and sits high on our secure browsers list while still allowing to install Chrome Store extensions. It also benefits from the regular Chromium security updates and has a nice feature of forcing all pop-ups into new tabs.

  • Security rating: high. While Chromium already scores high in the security department, the ungoogled version takes an extra step, removing background requests to all web services. It also removes pre-made binaries from the source code. Ungoogled Chromium uses HTTPS when possible, disables automatic URL formatting in Omnibox, and disallows pinging an IPv6 address.
  • Privacy rating: high. To keep your privacy protected, ungoogled Chromium cuts all ties to Google and its products by removing all code specific to Google web services. This means you can say goodbye to Google Host Detector, Google URL Tracker, Google Cloud Messaging, and so on. Finally, it disables WebRTC, which was impossible in Chromium without a third-party add-on or VPN.
  • Available secure extensions: many
  • Supported platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux

Users should be aware that most settings require manual activation, making it not that friendly to those less familiar with cybersecurity. Being portable and requiring no installation, Ungoogled Chromium only partly solves the mobility problem of your secure browser as there’s still no support for mobile devices.

Brave browser logo

3. Brave – lightweight and secure browser

While Brave is a relatively new Chromium-based private browser, it already supports all major platforms – something that Tor and Ungoogled Chromium are yet to achieve. Mainly developed by Brandon Eich, a former Mozilla contributor and the creator of JavaScript, Brave is lightweight, secure, and made specifically with privacy in mind.

  • Security rating: high. Out of the box, Brave blocks browser fingerprinting, scripts, and cookies by default. It also has a solid ad-blocker and provides the HTTPS Everywhere integration, as well as relatively frequent security updates.
  • Privacy rating: high. With a completely de-Googled codebase and customizable private windows, Brave further boosts its credentials with its complete lack of privacy scandals and/or concerns. That said, it’s still a work-in-progress. Until Brave adds more entries to its collection of secure add-ons, it’s difficult to recommend it as the most secure browser available.
  • Available secure extensions: few
  • Supported platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS

Overall, Brave is an excellent choice for those who don’t mind using an experimental piece of software and don’t struggle with minimalist functionality. Its only downside is its comparatively low number of supported browser extensions. Some users may also not like the introduction of ads as a means to support the initiative.

Firefox Browser logo

4. Firefox Browser – the safest mainstream web browser

Although Tor may be the most battle-ready private browser out of the box, Firefox has such massive plugin support that you can configure it to compete for the top spot. Like Tor, Firefox is also open-source. Unlike Tor, it’s been fully audited and doesn’t suffer from speed losses.

  • Security rating: high. If you download a few privacy plugins, Mozilla Firefox can be your answer to online dangers. The main reason why Firefox is a great alternative to Tor is that you can use it for secure browsing and easily switch to full-featured browsing. Besides, there’s a privacy-oriented Firefox Focus browser for Android and iOS.
  • Privacy rating: high. Like Tor and unlike Google’s Chrome browser, Firefox doesn’t track your browser history. It’s also updated regularly to deal with new security threats. Unless you’re looking for hardcore security, Mozilla Firefox is your best choice.
  • Available secure extensions: many
  • Supported platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS

Mozilla Firefox is mostly based on customization and is perfect for those who want a completely personalized browsing experience. Remember that it can take a fair bit of time to find all of the right plugins that you require, so make sure you’re willing to invest the time needed to make Firefox the perfect browser.

You can learn more about its security and privacy features by reading our full Mozilla Firefox review.

Safari

5. Apple Safari – the most secure default browser

Since Google’s Chrome exploded onto the web back in 2008, pretty much every default browser has suffered in its wake. Safari is no exception – its Windows version has been discontinued since 2012, making it available to Apple users only. That said, we still consider it a fairly secure browser in general, and probably the most secure default browser despite its sluggish update delivery.

  • Security rating: high. Safari runs websites in a sandbox, which prevents unauthorized data access and malicious code from one of your tabs taking over your entire browser. This is done by separately quarantining each open tab. Other cool features include a built-in password manager, protection from phishing and fake websites, as well as a private browsing mode.
  • Privacy rating: medium. Although Apple is known to have been accused of data collection in the past, the company’s decision to have users opt into data gathering techniques has made Apple’s products a lot more attractive from a privacy standpoint. Still, it’s creators are part of the NSA’s PRISM program, were hoarding Safari browsing history and even collected it when users were in private mode.
  • Available secure extensions: few
  • Supported platforms: macOS, iOS

Google Chrome logo

6. Google Chrome – secure, but short on privacy

Over a decade since its introduction, Google Chrome is now the most popular web browser on the planet. While it scores exceptionally high in terms of security because of frequent updates and an abundance of useful features, many (including us) would hesitate to call Google Chrome a “secure browser.” Here’s why.

  • Security rating: high. With features like automatic download scanning, automatic updates, automatic phishing and malware website warnings, Incognito mode, and sandbox tabs, Chrome is certainly no slouch when it comes to security. Not to mention the fact that Chrome has been the back-to-back winner of two Pwn2Own hacking events. Despite trying their hardest to find vulnerabilities within the browser, hackers just couldn’t crack its defenses.
  • Privacy rating: low. All the privacy options in the world couldn’t make us recommend Chrome as a privacy-friendly browser. The primary reasons for that are Chrome’s interaction with your Google account and the Sync feature, which automatically collects your data and sends it back to Google, including things like your browsing history, website permissions, and search history. What’s more, the mobile version of Chrome provides Google with your location data as well.
  • Available secure extensions: many
  • Supported platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome OS

If you want to learn more about Chrome’s privacy concerns and its security features, check out our full Google Chrome review.

 

Opera browser logo

7. Opera – the lack of plugins is its Achille’s heel

For a long while, Opera was a fairly underrated browser. Launched back in 1995, Opera has been considered one of the faster and more secure of the non-default browsers for decades. Sadly, if including a dubious VPN that tracks bandwidth and usage wasn’t enough, it was acquired by the China-based Golden Brick Capital company, continuing to raise concerns about its privacy practices.

  • Security rating: high. Opera has built-in features, such as the ability to route your traffic through their servers and a very robust ad-blocker. It’s also very good at compressing your traffic so it might be great if you have a slow connection.
  • Privacy rating: low. As we mention above, a pre-installed VPN that logs your online activity and a bunch of opt-out tracking options pretty much speak for themselves. If you want to keep your browsing private, don’t use Opera.
  • Available secure extensions: some
  • Supported platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS

The main problem with Opera is that it needs plugins to be completely secure. This may not seem like a huge problem for Firefox or Chrome users, but due to its low popularity, finding the right plugins for Opera is much harder.

If you’re still undecided, read our full Opera review to learn more about how Opera compares to other secure browsers on the market.

Microsoft Edge logo

8. Microsoft Edge – avoid it at all costs

Leaving Internet Explorer and its numerous vulnerabilities behind, Microsoft built Edge on the Chromium platform and upped the ante in terms of technical security. That said, its sparsely timed updates and lack of tracking protection features still put it behind most browsers.

  • Security rating: medium. Running your tabs in a sandbox, Chrome-style, limiting extension support, and adding the SmartScreen Filter from Internet Explorer is all well and good. However, Edge’s long list of vulnerabilities knocks it down a couple of notches when it comes to security.
  • Privacy rating: low. For some weird reason, Microsoft Edge has not included any tracking protection features in its InPrivate browsing mode, which means you’re being tracked and monitored even when you think you’re “incognito.”
  • Available secure extensions: many
  • Supported platforms: Windows 10, Android, iOS, Xbox One

Secure your browser with a VPN

No matter which browser you choose, securing your connection with a VPN is still a must.

A VPN routes your traffic through a remote server, encrypting your connection and hiding your IP address in the process. This means that anyone trying to spy on you will only see that you’re connected to a VPN, not knowing which websites you’ve been visiting or where you’re connecting from.

We recommend NordVPN for securing your browser because it’s the safest VPN available, providing you with military-grade encryption, no-logs, and good connectivity.

NordVPN
NordVPN
VPNpro rating: 9.6 / 10

What’s a secure browser, anyway?

Secure web browsers are ones that don’t track your activity and do their best to avoid vulnerabilities that might allow hackers to exploit loopholes in their coding. Contrary to popular belief, today’s mainstream browsers are no longer the easiest of targets for attackers to compromise.

Built-in security features like download protection, malicious website detection, and automatic “do not track” requests made mainstream browsers like Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome a lot “safer” from a security standpoint.

On the other hand, mainstream browsers that enable you to browse in so-called “private” windows can still track your activity and send your data to third parties.

Understanding private browsers

Private browsers, as we understand them today, are focused on giving users more control over their online privacy.

With that in mind, private browsers like Tor and Brave usually come with additional protective features or simply without Google integration and can better address the privacy needs of more demanding users.

These are browsers built specifically for privacy aficionados and are usually designed to block all manner of trackers and potentially hazardous scripts.

Using more than one secure browser

Another security measure we recommend for online safety is to use more than one browser. Most of us want to browse the web while being connected to multiple accounts. This is convenient, but it also makes it easy to track your activities and link them to the same identity.

The solution here is to set the rules for using each browser. For example, you may want to use Mozilla Firefox for your daily tasks that require logging into email and other accounts. The second browser, e.g. Brave browser, can be reserved for browsing in private mode while being logged out. Finally, the Tor browser can be reserved for tasks that require maximum privacy and security.

Feel free to create your own set of rules and use different browsers, just make sure not to break them. And when it comes to logging in, never save your passwords in the browser. If you have too many passwords to remember – it’s high time you started using a password manager.

Popular secure browser add-ons

As you’ve probably figured out already, a lot depends not on the browser itself but on the available add-ons. That’s why popular browsers have an edge over the likes of Safari or Opera. Below is a list of popular add-ons that should help enhance your security and privacy, given that your browser supports them.

  • uBlock Origin – probably the best ad blocker for browsers that also comes with tracking protection and serves as a better alternative to Chrome’s Safe Browsing
  • HTTPS Everywhere – this add-on forces websites to use a secure HTTPS encrypted connection whenever it’s possible
  • Decentraleyes – fights tracking via content delivery networks (CDN)
  • Cookie Autodelete – deletes unused cookies automatically
  • Privacy Badger – effectively blocks spying ads and trackers

While these add-ons are tried and tested, always be cautious when installing any third-party applications, especially if they are free. Trusting a high Google or App Store ranking is ill-advised – you should always search for an external review from an authoritative source.

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10 comments
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  1. Jebus

    Firefox is the least secure of these. It’s sandboxing and other security features are a decade behind. Safari and Ungoogled Chromium are probably the most secure; Tor, being built on gecko, suffers from the same issues and imo needs to be rebuilt on WebKit or Chromium asap.


    1. Josh

      I strongly disagree with Ungoogled Chromium being secure. The way I see it, you have to compile it yourself to stay up to date on security updates. No one does that.

      If you don’t, you have to settle for ancient versions of it, compiled by randomers.

      Very secure indeed…


  2. Kody

    I actually disagree that Opera has low privacy. If you configure the correct settings, it’s as private as it gets imo. You can configure 3rd party cookies to be automatically rejected. You can turn on anti-tracking and privacy protection, and then configure the easylists to be pretty aggressive just with a toggle button. Plus, the built-in VPN (though it’s more of a proxy) still masks your IP and can make you look like you’re in a totally different country.

    If you wanna get hardcore, you can go to the opera flags page and turn on some more settings that even further shield your privacy.

    Configured correctly, Opera is both as secure and as private as it gets. dns-over-https built into it as well? Legit. I could go into detail if anybody wants me to, but, Opera is very powerful in all of these regards, very underrated here.


    1. Julie Cole Author

      Hello, Kody! Thanks for the comment. While you made some valid points, I must stress that the two main reasons why Opera’s privacy was ranked so low are its Chinese ownership and the fact that its built-in proxy logs more than it should. If every Opera user followed your advice and made the necessary changes, I could say that this browser can be listed above Chrome. However, the latter offers plenty of plugins, which are a more user-friendly way of increasing privacy.


  3. Andre Barnard

    I’ve been using Brave now for a few years switching from Firefox. Brave is all the above you say about it, but for me is the combination of all the security and privacy features built right into the browser combined with lightning speed. I tested it against Firefox and Chrome and it came out tops!


  4. JohnIL

    People really interested in private connections should invest in a VPN subscription, paid VPN’s generally encrypt your data and don’t sell it. Free one’s generally do not encrypt data and may keep on their server for other purposes. Opera isn’t a great VPN but probably good enough for a consumer. Opera owned by a Chinese investment firm now, so I find that a big question mark. Firefox falls behind on malware protection, Chrome may not be so private. But its always rated high in security. Edge browser is way overlooked because its SmartScreen is probably one of the best for blocking rouge sites with malware.


  5. Fern

    I’d never heard of Tor Browser before, but I’m a huge Mozilla FireFox fan. I’m glad to know that it ranks so well with the additions of plugins!


  6. Thomas French

    I’ve been using FireFox for several years now but after reading this I think I should probably look into the Tor Browser. I need a secure web browser that can give me complete privacy, so using Tor along with the NordVPN account that I’ve had for a while, I should be in good shape.


  7. Rita S

    Tor Browser sounds really interesting. I’m not sure I’ll try it though. I’ve been using Mozilla and Chrome depending on what I’m doing online and it suits me just fine. Thanks for the list though.


  8. Imogen Brodzky

    Sometimes I think Internet security is a mirage. I keep reading about data breaches ranging from credit card companies to websites to credit reporting agencies. Didn’t know Mozilla Firefox was still good. I stopped using it some time back. Would never use Opera as I hear it’s weak on security. I use a VPN but I want a secure browser to secure things.

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