Professor Douglas J. Leith of Trinity College published the results of a study on web browsers. In short: if you are worried about your privacy, then, according to the study, you are best off using the Brave browser.
As part of the study, Professor Leith carefully studied Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Yandex Browser and other browsers, assessed the privacy risks that were associated with the internal exchange of data between browsers and their respective servers during general web surfing. In the course of the study, several tests were conducted to find out whether browsers track the IP addresses of users over time and whether they merge information about the visited web pages.
In order for the assessment to be fair, the researcher combed the general data in several scenarios — at startup, after a new installation, after closing and reopening, after inserting and entering a URL into the address bar, and when the browser is not used. According to the test results, browsers were divided into three privacy categories.
According to the study, Brave took first place and was the most confidential of all. Professor Leith was unable to find any identifiers that would allow the browser to track IP addresses, and there were no signs that the browser was sending data about visited web pages to internal servers.
Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, which account for more than 85 percent of the browser market, ended up in the second category. They share information about the pages visited with the internal servers of the respective browser manufacturer. This happens when the browser uses the autocomplete function, which sends data to the servers in real time. This option is enabled by default, but you can disable it if you delve into the settings.
Firefox supports an open web socket for push notifications using a unique identifier that can be used for tracking. This feature can also be disabled.
Turning to Safari, Professor Leith criticized the way Apple’s browser exchanges data: by default, Safari uses a poor choice of start page, which leaks information to several third parties (Facebook, Twitter, sites that are definitely not famous for their safety) and allows them to set cookies without any user consent.
The professor concludes that all three browsers can indeed be made more private if you are a little tech savvy, since most privacy settings are disabled by default or hidden in the settings.
The 3rd category includes Yandex and Microsoft Edge. Both browsers have been seen sending identifiers tied to device hardware. Edge communicates with its Microsoft home base with the device UUID, an identifier that will be difficult to change even if you try. Yandex, for its part, sends the hash code of the hardware serial number and MAC address to the internal servers. As a result, these identifiers are likely to persist, no matter how many times you perform a new installation of these browsers.
While privacy is more and more in the spotlight, technology giants are trying to alleviate users’ concerns about how their data is processed and transmitted. For example, Google recently announced plans to end support for third-party cookies in Chrome, while Firefox began to enable DNS over HTTPS for users in the US by default.