Think you know which web browser will keep you and your data safe online? The real answer may surprise you.
It turns out that ranking web browser security isn’t all that cut and dried. There are a lot of factors that go into safe browsing online, and when you take them all into account, perhaps no one browser can truly be called the safest.
For example, browser vulnerabilities are a top concern for those in IT today. But just looking at the number of vulnerabilities doesn’t tell you the whole story. By that measure, Opera would be the clear winner by far, with just a fraction of the vulnerabilities each of the other major browsers have. But if you take a closer look, you’ll see that the explanation doesn’t lie in Opera’s inherent security; it’s more likely that hackers aren’t wasting their time trying to exploit Opera because it has a market share of only about one percent.
And even for browsers with a larger market share, just having fewer vulnerabilities doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more secure. If a browser has fewer security vulnerabilities, but those vulnerabilities have been around for a while with no fix in the works, how does that make them any safer than other browsers? Hackers will gladly spend their time exploiting old vulnerabilities that no one’s bothering to fix, especially if other browsers are more quick to release security patches and render their work moot.
And vulnerabilities aren’t the only factor in browser security. There’s also the question of open source versus proprietary browsers. Is open source inherently more secure than proprietary software? Proponents argue that closed proprietary software could have surveillance software installed and users would never know it, while the transparent nature of open source software protects against that. But some security experts debate whether open source automatically means better quality and argue that it depends on the software.
Even if you can pinpoint the most secure browser, using it won’t protect you online completely. But using a browser that will keep you safe from hackers is a good start to staying safe online. Here’s how the most common browsers compare.