Tip of the Week: Which Browser Is The Most Secure?

POSTED ON April 25, 2019

For most people the Internet browser is the most utilized application on their computer. With the flood of security risks on the Internet, it is useful to know which Internet browser is the best at keeping your data, identity, and network secure. First, we’ll touch on the size and scope of the Internet security industry. Then, we’ll look at how you can upgrade your security for free by installing a more secure Internet browser.

Cybersecurity Industry 
Given the Internet is rife with threats, an organization faces real risk by not protecting its information systems properly. One indicator of just how risky the Internet is for an organization, is to see how much money is being spent on securing computers and networks. The Internet security industry is on track to expand to annual revenues of over $170 billion by 2020. To address the abundance of threats, cybersecurity markets have begun to pop up for gadgets, appliances, cars, and other frequently utilized goods. Cybersecurity insurance is also now being offered by major insurers. Pricewaterhouse Coopers estimates that $7.5 billion will be spent on data insurance by 2020.

Another indicator that cybersecurity is prioritized by many businesses is how major financial institutions address these risks. Organizations like J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo, with their extensive risk-averse financial services, spend upwards of $1.5 billion per year on cybersecurity.

Start with Browser Security
The browser is generally where the data stored on the Internet is distributed to users. As a result, small businesses who don’t have the financial resources to spare have come to rely on their browser’s built-in security features to do a lot of the heavy lifting in their cybersecurity strategies. By understanding which browser gives you the best opportunity to be secure while maintaining the productivity you need to succeed.

Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Microsoft’s new Edge browser are currently the most utilized browsers on computers that run Windows or macOS, while Chrome, Safari, and UCBrowser are most popular on mobile. We’ll look at some of these browsers (and their security features) to help you decide if a particular browser will work for your needs.

One capability all modern web browsers utilize is something you should look for in virtually all the websites you visit, the ability to produce secure connections. In the browser, any site that has a secure connection will feature the protocol “https://”. By encrypting data sent and received through the browser, it keeps the transmission of data from being intercepted, stolen, or leaked.

With that in mind, we’ll go through the most popular browsers to see what they offer users in the way of security and privacy:

Google Chrome
Google Chrome is the most popular Internet browser in the world. To augment its security, Chrome features a powerful “sandbox”. The sandbox is an encrypted environment that attempts to keep the communication between the user and the website separate to offer another layer of security. Google also has the fastest response time to security threats. One potential security problem users face when using Chrome is if they use Chrome apps. The Chrome apps themselves may not have weaknesses, but the more endpoints that potentially expose users, the higher the risk is.

Privacy in Google Chrome is another matter altogether. Google’s plan is to know as much as possible about each of their users, so privacy isn’t their main concern. The complete lack of privacy you have in Chrome does provide some value to the user in the way of targeted advertisements, content, and more; but if you are looking to stay off the grid, using Google Chrome may not be your best option.

Mozilla Firefox
Firefox’s practicality is coming into question because of age and amount of resources spent on development in comparison to the bigger players. Firefox lacked a “sandbox” for years and only more recently has implemented the technology. Firefox’s JavaScript plugins all share the same namespace (a “container” where some information is stored), which can expose users. The best way to utilize Firefox, is by understanding industry best practices and not diverting from them.

However, privacy in Firefox is the industry standard. Since it is open source software, and not tied to some major corporate entity, the software makes a point to protect the privacy of its users by not tracking or collecting much data at all.

Apple’s Safari 
Apple had tried making Safari for other platforms but wasn’t able to gain traction, so you’ll only find it as the default browser on every Apple product. For years, Apple’s claims that their products were the most secure held true, but today’s malware developers target Safari as well. Since macOS has become a target like any other computing platform, Apple has been extremely good at providing timely fixes and updates.

Apple is, like Google and Microsoft, tracking everything that you do in their software to help provide a better service. This isn’t ideal for personal privacy, but on Apple’s devices, Safari is still the best functioning and most feature-rich browsing experience. That said, if you must use a mix of Windows and Apple devices, you may find a more cross-platform browser such as Chrome to be a better fit.

Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 
Since so many computer users use Windows, Microsoft’s browsers generally are utilized with frustration most of the time. The new Edge browser has replaced Internet Explorer and has enhanced security significantly. If you are still using Internet Explorer, we recommend you switch immediately to one of the other browsers on this list. Only time will tell if Microsoft’s browser will be a practical option for users. From a security standpoint the Edge browser utilizes the sandbox technology that the Chromium browsers do, and like Chrome, offers apps inside the software. That said, there is still indecision about Edge’s reliability and overall usability.

Privacy in Microsoft’s browsers is basically not there as they have followed the growing trend of collecting every piece of data that they can. There are options to make it less obvious, but users should be happy that Edge isn’t Internet Explorer.

At Agilitec, our team primarily utilizes Google Chrome due to its combination of security, speed, and popularity. We use a mix of Windows and Apple machines and like being able to setup browser extensions and shortcuts that get automatically installed and updated on all the machines we use. If we had to choose a browser (and we often help our customers with this choice), we would recommend using Chrome while keeping a close eye on what browser extensions are being used and what data-sharing permissions those extensions have. Regardless of the browser you utilize, make sure you are using HTTPS secure connections where available and you are keeping your browser and operating system up to date on the latest version and with the latest security patches applied.

Security in your browser is something you cannot do without, for more information feel free to contact us at (702) 720-1700.

About the Author: Agilitec IT
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