March 29, 2022

Privacy Tip of the Week: Using Multiple Web Browsers to Protect Privacy

Posted by Rhiannon

Web browsers are your portal to the internet. They allow you to access and search the world of online information, stay connected with people halfway around the globe, work from anywhere, and more. Most people use one or two browsers for everything they do online, especially because the devices we buy come with browsers pre-installed. This is the most convenient way to access the web after all. Each browser remembers your preferences, search history, passwords, and more. However, if you want to improve your online privacy and digital safety, it may be safer to use multiple web browsers. Here’s why:

  • Why should you be concerned about your web browser?
  • How do you choose a safe web browser?
  • Which browsers are the best?
  • Which are the worst?
  • How does using multiple browsers protect your privacy?
  • What are some other browser privacy tips?

Why Should You Be Concerned About Your Web Browser?

Any company that controls your access to the web also controls much of the data you create while browsing. They can track every click you make and every website you visit, storing that data in a comprehensive search history. Many browsers also offer password storage, form auto-fill, and email services, which means they know information like your name, address, birthday, and more. By storing all of this information, web browsers make their services more convenient. 

Unfortunately, they also open you up to privacy and safety breaches. Browsers can sell your data to advertisers, which is the least concerning breach of your privacy. If required, browsers may be compelled to give your information to government agencies. They may also be attacked by hackers. In the span of a single moment, your private information may fall into the hands of another, without you even knowing it. 

These issues can be mitigated by using a secure VPN when you browse, or using a privacy-focused browser.

How Do You Choose a Safe Web Browser?

Knowing that your web browser is responsible for safekeeping a lot of your personal information, you should aim to choose a safe web browser, rather than a simply convenient one. But how do you know which browsers are safe to use? Ultimately, no single browser is perfect, but some are better than others. The most effective way to find a safe browser is to read the terms and conditions of the one you wish to use. This is where you’ll find information about how they operate.

The most important criteria are privacy and security, so look for sections that refer specifically to those elements. Here, you’ll learn their policies for sharing or selling your data with third parties, serving ads, encrypting your data, and more.

Which Browsers are the Best?

There are dozens of browsers on the market. Some are markedly better than others. Our list is only a small sampling:

  1. The Tor Browser. Tor is a browser focused on privacy rather than security (but hey, you can’t have it all, right?). It encrypts users’ internet activity to prevent snoops from seeing it, while also automatically clearing cookies and browser history. However, it’s not the most user-friendly option and an inept user may accidentally reduce its privacy-efficacy.
  2. Epic. When installed, Epic has every privacy setting turned on by default. Users must deliberately disable them, rather than the other way around. In this sense, it blocks cookies and ads, doesn’t allow websites to automatically track visitors, has no auto-fill, and uses the privacy search engine Duck Duck Go by default.
  3. Firefox. Firefox is one of the most well known browsers in the world, and also one of the safest. Its code is open-source, which means anyone can inspect it for breaches or misuse. In addition, it offers a privacy mode that protects against tracking, malware, and pop-ups. It does send usage and performance data to Mozilla but this feature can be disabled.

Which Browsers are the Worst?

While some browsers excel at privacy and safety, others are abysmal at it. They include:

  1. Microsoft Edge. Edge is the successor to the once ubiquitous, but now widely mocked, Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, the new iteration is just as mockable. It has only the most basic privacy features like pop-up blocking, and receives only two updates a year which gives hackers ample time to break into the existing security.
  2. Google Chrome. Chrome is the most popular browser in the world, but not well known for its privacy. It is notorious for tracking its users and collecting their data. They make tons of money showing users ads tailored to them based on their information. 

How Does Using Multiple Browsers Protect Your Privacy?

When surfing the web, you want to use the safest browser possible. But you can actually help further increase your safety by using multiple web browsers. This may seem counterintuitive, as many people believe this just gives more browsers access to your data, and that is true to some extent. However, this method limits the amount of information each browser gets and thus limits how much can be lost in a single breach or sale.

If you use multiple web browsers to protect your data, you can:

  • Limit your exposure to tracking
  • Protect your data from hacks
  • Easily delete your information
  • Separate your activities
  • Access unique features

Limit Your Exposure to Tracking

Web browsers can track your ventures through the internet with the use of cookies, which are bits of code stored on your device (no worries: cookies are usually harmless). These cookies allow them to build a profile about you, which may include your search history, interests, place of work, and more. In turn, that information is often sold to companies who use it to target you with advertisements. By using a variety of web browsers, you reduce the amount of information any one company can learn about you, thus keeping yourself more private.

Protect Your Data From Hacks

While you don’t have to allow a browser to store your information, it is sometimes simply more convenient. It prevents you from having to remember a variety of passwords and taking extra time logging in to your accounts every day. However, by allowing your browsers to remember your data, you run the risk of it being stolen in hacks and breaches. By using multiple browsers, you reduce how much of your information can be compromised in any single attack.

Easily Delete Your Information

When you do allow a web browser to store your information, there may come a time when you want to delete some of it. If you use a single browser, that task becomes much harder to do. This is because you have to go through and delete each specific item. By using multiple browsers, and dividing activities between them, you’re more likely able to delete information with a single click.

Separate Your Activities

We use the internet for dozens of activities, often every day. Those activities might include using social media, sending emails, reading the news, completing work, and even more. When crammed into a single browser, the activities overlap, make old content harder to find again, and generally reduce productivity. By using multiple web browsers, you can keep every activity separate. This is especially helpful to prevent blurring the line between personal and professional browsing.

Access Unique Features

Every browser has different features. They include plug ins, shared bookmarks on all of your devices, and more. By using more than one, you can have the best of all worlds.

What Are Some Other Browser Privacy Tricks

Whether you choose to use a single browser or multiple ones, you can help protect your privacy on all of them even further with these tips:

  • Disable cookies. While cookies (like the ones that store your passwords) can be helpful, they can also be invasive (like the ones that track you). If you want to increase your online privacy, disable all cookies.
  • Delete your saved passwords. Rather than allowing your browsers to store your passwords, use a password manager or other method for saving them.
  • Keep your browsers up to date. Outdated software may fall prey to hackers exploiting old security updates.
  • Use a VPN. VPNs encrypt your data and make you anonymous online.

Privacy is more important, yet more scarce, than ever. Fortunately, you can help make the internet more private for you by using multiple browsers and good digital habits.

Posted by Rhiannon

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