The Internet browsers with the best and worst privacy

A research paper published by Trinity College Dublin professor Doug Leith found that Microsoft Edge has the worst privacy of the world’s most popular web browsers.

Leith’s paper analysed the privacy of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Brave, Edge, and Russian browser Yandex.

The research focused on how the browsers send data and how this could be used to track users.

It found that Brave is the most secure of the browsers, while Chrome, Firefox, and Safari all received medium ratings.

Edge, alongside Yandex, was the worst-ranked of these browsers.

The least secure browsers

“From a privacy perspective Microsoft Edge and Yandex are qualitatively different from the other browsers studied,” explained Leith.

“Both send persistent identifiers that can be used to link requests (and associated IP address/location) to backend servers. Edge also sends the hardware UUID of the device to Microsoft and Yandex similarly transmits a hashed hardware identifier to back end servers.”

Leith said that as far as he could tell, this behaviour cannot be disabled by users.

“In addition to the search autocomplete functionality that shares details of web pages visited, both transmit web page information to servers that appear unrelated to search autocomplete.”

Leith said both Edge and Yandex send identifiers that are tied to hardware, and these remain the same even if the browser is cleanly reinstalled.

In the case of Edge, the universally unique identifier is sent to a Microsoft server found at self.events.data.microsoft.com.

Brave – The most secure browser

The study found that Brave was the most secure of the tested browsers, as it did not collect identifiers which allow the tracking of IP addresses.

Brave also does not share the details of the webpages which users visit with back-end servers.

“Brave has autocomplete disabled by default and makes no network connections at all as we type in the top bar,” Leith added.

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The Internet browsers with the best and worst privacy