Pri­vate browsers

Pro­tect your pri­vacy as you ex­plore the web with our pick of the most se­cure browsers

Web User - - Contents -

Epic Browser | www.epicbrowser.com | ★★★★★ FEA­TURES ★★★★★ PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ ★ EASE OF USE ★★★★ ★

Wh What we liked: Bas­based on Google Chrome, Epic Browser is a fast browser built for every­day use thathat of­fers the per­fect­fec com­bi­na­tion of pri­vacy fea­tures and us­abil­ity. The pri­vate­brows­ing mode that you find in most browsers is al­ways switched on in Epic, so it deletes your brows­ing data (cook­ies, his­tory and lo­gin data) when­ever you close it. Epic also of­fers com­pre­hen­sive built-in ad and tracker block­ing, no­ti­fy­ing you of how many track­ers it’s blocked on a par­tic­u­lar web­site and even show­ing you who is track­ing you in other browsers.

Epic tack­les a range of known pri­vacy vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that other browsers of­ten over­look, such as in­stal­la­tion track­ing, and ad­dress-bar and URL track­ing. It also pro­tects against ‘ fin­ger­print­ing’, a method of track­ing that can be used by your ISP even when you use a VPN. Searches are anony­mous, too: when­ever you use a ma­jor search en­gine, the browser au­to­mat­i­cally di­rects your searches through a proxy so no as­so­ci­a­tion is made with your IP ad­dress.

Epic is set by de­fault to re­quest en­crypted con­nec­tions but when you need to guar­an­tee a se­cure con­nec­tion, you can man­u­ally en­able its proxy to hide your IP ad­dress and en­crypt your brows­ing. Like us­ing a VPN, this pro­tects you when you’re us­ing pub­lic Wi-fi net­works and you can also use it to ac­cess con­tent that’s blocked in par­tic­u­lar re­gions.

One stand­out fea­ture not re­lated to pri­vacy is the op­tion to down­load au­dio and video from sites such as Youtube, Face­book, Vimeo and Sound­cloud. For con­ve­nience, Epic lets you im­port book­marks from other browsers, and you can also save your ac­count cre­den­tials for faster lo­gins.

How it can be im­proved We could find al­most no fault with Epic Browser, but if we’re be­ing picky, it’s proxy tool doesn’t pro­tect your anonymity with the same so­phis­ti­ca­tion that Tor Browser does.

OUR VER­DICT If you want to re­place your every­day browser with one that takes your pri­vacy much more se­ri­ously, Epic Browser is per­fect for the job. It’s fast, easy to use and of­fers all the tools you need to stay anony­mous on­line.

Tor Browser | www.tor­pro­ject.org | ★★★★ ★ FEA­TURES ★★★★ ★ PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★ ★★ EASE OF USE ★★★★ ★

Wh What we liked: Tor Browser is a mod­i­fied ver­sion of Fire­fox that pro­tects your iden­tity by di­rect­ing all your traf­fic via a net­work of thot­hou­sands of vol­un­teers. First de­vel­oped by the US Navy to pro­tect gov­ern­ment com­mu­ni­ca­tions, it’s in­cred­i­bly se­cure – but you don’t have to be an IT ex­pert to use it. When opened, the browser au­to­mat­i­cally launches the nec­es­sary pro­cesses to route your traf­fic through the Tor net­work. It then fur­ther pro­tects your pri­vacy us­ing the No­script and HTTPS Ev­ery­where add-ons, which block all ma­li­cious scripts and en­sure en­crypted con­nec­tions are made wher­ever pos­si­ble. From Tor Browser’s se­cu­rity set­tings, you can use the slider to choose a se­cu­rity level that best suits you. In the high­est po­si­tion, Javascript and some fonts, images and HTML-5 el­e­ments are blocked to of­fer max­i­mum pro­tec­tion. Tor can be run as a por­ta­ble app from a USB mem­ory stick and, like Epic Browser, it deletes all your brows­ing data as soon as it’s closed. How it can be im­proved: Be­cause your traf­fic is al­ways routed around a net­work of other com­put­ers, Tor Browser is no­tice­ably slower than our Gold Award win­ner. With no op­tion to save lo­gin cre­den­tials, it’s also less convenient than Epic Browser.

OUR VER­DICT Tor Browser is ar­guably the most pow­er­ful tool for main­tain­ing your anonymity on­line. How­ever, we’d rec­om­mend it only as a sec­ondary browser (rather than a re­place­ment for your every­day browser) be­cause of its slower per­for­mance.

Opera | www.opera.com | ★★★★ ★ FEA­TURES ★★★ ★★ PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ ★ EASE OF USE ★★★★ ★

Whatwh we liked: Operaope doesn’t spe­cialise in pri­vacy in the way our other award win­ners do, but its re­cent in­tro­duc­tion of an un­lim­ited VPN makes it an ex­cel­lent choice for any­one who wants to hide their IP ad­dress and browse anony­mously at the click of a but­ton.

Af­ter en­abling the VPN from Opera’s Set­tings menu, it can be switched off and on from the ad­dress bar, and you can choose from five dif­fer­ent vir­tual lo­ca­tions. The browser comes with a built-in ad blocker and you can also set it to send a ‘ Do not track’ re­quest to web­sites for times when you’re not us­ing the VPN.

Like our other award win­ners, Opera has a pri­vate-brows­ing mode that clears all your brows­ing data when it’s closed. How­ever, be­cause this isn’t en­abled by de­fault, you can choose to reap the per­for­mance ben­e­fits of sav­ing brows­ing data such as cook­ies and web his­tory, and en­able pri­vate brows­ing only when you need it. How it can be im­proved: Opera doesn’t block track­ers as com­pre­hen­sively as Epic Browser un­less you’re us­ing the VPN. Be­cause the pri­vate-brows­ing fea­tures aren’t ‘al­ways-on’, there’s al­ways a risk you’ll for­get to en­able them.

OUR VER­DICT If you want a browser that’s good for any web ac­tiv­ity, Opera comes highly rec­om­mended. Its VPN and pri­vate brows­ing pro­vide to­tal anonymity on­line when re­quired, but it also of­fers all the pow­er­ful tools you’d ex­pect from a mod­ern browser.

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