It’s easy to forget what using the internet was like 10 or 20 years ago. Most of us were stuck with Internet Explorer. It was slow, disorganized, and full of dangerous security flaws that could make the dreaded “blue screen of death” pop up in an instant.
The release of Chrome (2008) and Firefox (2002) made the modern internet experience possible. Everything you do online, and even all the apps you use — from maps to social media and more — began as browser-based experiences.
Nonetheless, a lot has changed over the last decade. The world’s top browsers now also have their share of problems. As you ditched Explorer ten or so years ago, it’s time to move on from Chrome and Firefox.
Here are a few reasons why, along with some better options for safer browsing.
What’s Wrong With The Most Popular Browsers?
To be fair, some browsers are worse than others. The worst offender is also the most popular, Google Chrome. Chrome accounts for around 60% of all browser usage worldwide. It’s fast, customizable, and syncs with the Google product ecosystem.
The problem with Chrome is that to get all these great features, you must trade your privacy. Chrome tracks almost everything you do online — and not only for Google. Chrome welcomes trackers from advertisers, websites, and any other interested party.
In one week of using Chrome, you can catch thousands of cookies that these parties use to build a profile about you. Worse yet, it’s not always where you’d expect them. It makes sense that Amazon might follow you around to offer product suggestions. But these cookies also pop up on insurance websites, student login portals, etc.
And considering Chrome is also the browser that’s most targeted by hackers, it’s super easy for your data to fall into the wrong hands.
Firefox and Edge Aren’t Much Better
Microsoft may never entirely dodge the bad reputation Internet Explorer created. Edge has made considerable improvements in stability and performance but has come under fire for privacy issues.
Edge sends an identifier when it’s communicating with websites that are directly linked to your hardware and apps running on the device. It creates a range of security risks. What’s more, the newest version of Edge is built on Chromium source code (the same as Chrome). So it suffers similar privacy and security issues as Chrome.
Firefox is a little better — the non-profit Mozilla doesn’t sell your data to advertisers. But data researchers have found issues in the way Firefox uses telemetry data. It is information about your device, including hardware, CPU, and memory. Cybercriminals can use this information to determine the identity of internet users.
What Browser Should You Use Instead?
You have many choices when it comes to your web browser. There’s more than Edge, Chrome, and Firefox. Of all the major browsers, Safari is more secure with its built-in safety tools.
But you can do even better with an alternative browser. Two options you should check out are Brave and Epic Browser.
The Mozilla foundation designed Brave to be an even more private and secure version of Firefox. It blocks website trackers and ads and includes a variety of security features. It also uses the Chromium source code (but it’s built around security unlike Edge). So it looks and feels familiar, and it is compatible with many extensions you’re using now.
Epic Browser is another option that’s likewise built on Chromium. Using it is like always browsing with “incognito mode” enabled. Epic never stores or shares your data. It also deletes any session data right after you close the browser. At the same time, it uses proxies to increase your privacy.
One More Thing You Need to Know
You can’t go wrong with Brave, Epic Browser, or another privacy-centric browser. But to ensure the safety of your online activities, you also need a VPN.
A VPN (or virtual private network) both encrypts and anonymizes your internet connection. It means advertisers, your ISP, hackers, or anybody else can’t track what you do online. Enabling one is the easiest way to achieve online privacy.
Best of all, when using a VPN, it extends your protection beyond your web browser. It also includes any apps you use to make incoming and outgoing data secure.