Google Chrome is a widely popular web browser with many fantastic features. For those who prioritize higher levels of privacy and security, however, alternatives are available.
Security and privacy concerns
Chrome has come a long way over the past year toward revamping its privacy and security measures. Many security flaws have been fixed and a new set of privacy settings make it much more competitive in these areas. However, some concerns remain such as:
- Prevalence of malicious extensions. Extensions provide Chrome users with useful and interesting functionalities difficult to replicate in other browsers. Being so popular and attractive to developers has drawbacks, though. It is estimated that newly-discovered malicious extensions have been downloaded over 30 million times. Attackers use these extensions to record browsing history and login credentials. Luckily, Google is responsive to these threats and takes down malware extensions quickly once it is caught.
- Not so incognito mode. Think Chrome’s incognito mode keeps your browsing completely private? Not so fast. (Hear that? That’s the sound of millions of men gulping collectively.) It’s long been known that internet providers can still see what people are browsing in incognito mode, but now a $5 billion class-action lawsuit claims that Google itself still collects your incognito data for advertisers. If true, hopefully Google will address this in the future.
If you want to take your browsing security and privacy to the next level, there are plenty of great options.
7 safer and more private Chrome alternatives
Brave (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux). This relative newcomer (first released in 2016 by the founder of Mozilla) has a host of uncommon selling points. It’s blazing fast, with up to 6x faster page load times compared to the competition. It also has an interesting rewards system where users earn crypto tokens by viewing privacy-respecting ads. These tokens can then be awarded to your favorite content creators. Even disregarding these unique features, it happens to be one of the most privacy-focused browsers available. Features include:
- No collection of your personal information and data to sell to advertisers.
- Integrated ‘Shields’ block ads, scripts, and unnecessary cookies.
- HTTPS checks ensure you’re browsing on secure websites only.
- Automatic ‘Do not track’ requests are sent when visiting websites.
- Browsing data is cleared upon closure of the application.
- Open-source design.
- Optional paid VPN and firewall services (iOS only).
Cake (Android, iOS). This mobile-only browser incorporates unique functionality that sets it apart in the space. The main example of this is its ability to swipe through search engine results organically. It’s always nice when developers tailor user experiences to the platform. Cake also has a suite of privacy and security-related capabilities such as:
- Anonymous browsing that won’t be tracked by the company.
- Password protection features.
- The Private Time Bomb. You can configure the browser to close private tabs after a certain amount of time has passed, or when the application is closed.
- HTTPS everywhere functionality that confirms the entire website you’re browsing is secured properly.
Firefox (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux). The once mighty browser giant has seen its market share dwindle over the past decade, but recent releases prove its still a fantastic product. It features:
- Private browsing with automatic protection against pop-ups, phishing and trackers.
- Warnings when websites attempt to install add-on programs.
- Open-source design. Since Firefox is so mainstream, you are assured the code has been studied thoroughly by thousands of developers worldwide.
- You can shut off potentially problematic functions such as Telemetry.
Safari (macOS, iOS). Safari is the most popular browser for Apple devices. Technically, there’s a Windows version as well but it is currently unsupported by the Apple development team so we only recommend using it for macOS and iOS. It offers:
- This confines malicious code to the browser tab in which it is run. So, the entire browser isn’t compromised and your personal information is protected.
- Tracking prevention. Through machine learning algorithms, Safari is able to identify advertisers and remove their trackers automatically.
- Malware prevention. Sites are scanned for malware and won’t be loaded if any is found.
- Password creation and storage. Strong passwords can be created automatically and stored for later auto-fill use.
Epic (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS). The Epic Privacy Browser is an open-source option that is built on Chromium (like Chrome). So, users should receive a familiar browsing experience while still reaping the benefits of its privacy features such as:
- VPN services from a selection of servers in 8 different countries. This blocks your IP address from being seen by the sites you visit.
- Removal of auto-fill for search engine queries. Unbeknownst to many, auto-fill forms can be used by hackers to steal personal information. By setting up forms with hidden fields such as the users’ home addresses or credit card numbers, malicious agents can pry sensitive data from people.
- Cryptocurrency miner script blocking. Some websites install cryptocurrency mining programs on users’ computers that tie up significant portions of their computational resources.
- Fingerprinting protection. Fingerprinting is when advertisers analyze small bits of identifying information together to identify a user. Examples include browser window size, plugins installed, browser version, system fonts, input devices, etc.
DuckDuckGo Browser (Android, iOS)
DuckDuckGo is most known for its search engine that provides more privacy than Google. Piggybacking off of this, they now have their own privacy-focused browser for mobile devices. There are also DuckDuckGo extensions for many popular desktop browsers that provide some of the same functionality, so look into those as well if you’re interested. Benefits include:
- Privacy grades. See how your favorite websites stack up on privacy concerns.
- Encrypted connections. Like many of the other options on the list, DuckDuckGo forces the secure HTTPS protocol when connecting to websites.
- Native integration with the DuckDuckGo search engine. This one’s obvious. DuckDuckGo doesn’t track your searches, giving you much more control on how your information is shared.
- Tracker blocking. This lets you know how many trackers were blocked on each page of site.
Tor (Windows, macOS, Android, Linux).
Tor is an anonymous web browser that has achieved significant notoriety for allowing access to the “dark web”. It can actually browse any typical HTTPS website as well, however. We don’t recommend general internet surfers use Tor, but for those most concerned about privacy it offers:
- Heavily encrypted traffic. Tor operates on a decentralized network of server nodes scattered throughout the world. All traffic passing through these nodes is heavily encrypted to increase privacy. Unfortunately, this also means that it is much slower than traditional browsers.
- Extremely secure network. The network of server nodes is incredibly difficult to hack due to this decentralized nature. However, individual browsers are still susceptible to attacks.
Again, general users should probably not use Tor. It is slow, and while not illegal, has a reputation for providing a platform for illicit activities. This could rouse suspicion from friends, family -or worse yet- governmental agencies. If you have no reason to browse the dark web, stick with any of the aforementioned alternatives above.
If you have to use Chrome
If you have to use Chrome for any reason, or you’re just stubborn and like what you like, you can increase your security and privacy by doing the following:
- Only use safe extensions. Before installing any extension, do a search on it to find out about the developer and any safety concerns it might present.
- Change your settings. Turn off your syncing so that information isn’t shared throughout the entire Google ecosystem. Navigate to the ‘Privacy and Security’ tab of your settings and adjust them as needed.
Axel’s commitment to privacy and security
We hope you have a better understanding about your browsing options. Many of these web browsers have similar feature sets, so try them out until you find the one that best suits your needs.
In today’s digital age, privacy and security are important topics. We take these issues very seriously and are committed to providing products that increase the privacy and security of our users. The Axel Go filesharing platform is designed with these considerations at the forefront. Utilizing rock solid blockchain encryption, you can be sure your files are secure, private and accessible. Download it for free today and get the peace of mind you deserve. Axel: Securing data at rest and in motion.
 Joseph Menn, “Massive spying on users of Google’s Chrome shows new security”, Reuters, Jun. 17 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-alphabet-google-chrome-exclusive/exclusive-massive-spying-on-users-of-googles-chrome-shows-new-security-weakness-idUSKBN23P0JO
 Jonathan Stempel, “Google face $5 billion lawsuit in U.S. for tracking ‘private’ internet use”, Reuters, Jun. 2 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-alphabet-google-privacy-lawsuit-idUSKBN23933H