Who do you trust when you’re browsing the interwebs on your Mac? Safari? More so than Google’s Chrome, even though Apple remains complicit with Google’s spying efforts by making Google Safari’s default search engine. What about Mozilla’s new Firefox versions?
A quick comparison of the Mac’s top three most popular browsers indicates two things. All three are fast and render webpages about the same. Only two of the three browsers focus on privacy and security. Apple takes the middle ground with Safari by allowing ad and tracker blockers, and by giving users an option to prevent the kind of cross-website tracking that Google and other unscrupulous advertisers want. Yet, Apple is happy to take a few billion dollars from Google each year to make it the default search engine on Safari, so there’s that to consider.
All three browsers hand extensions; add-on utilities that provide additional functionality. Firefox started the extension mania years ago, but Google’s Chrome has plenty (Safari has the least), including malicious malware extensions that record everything you do while using Chrome.
Uh huh. That’s right. Liam Tung explains:
Researchers at Trend Micro dubbed the family of malicious extensions Droidclub and discovered they included a software library with so-called “session-replay scripts” used by online analytics firms.
Nearly half a million Chrome browsers had the extensions installed. How did they get there? Replay services scripts downloaded from popular websites. Nearly 500 infected hundreds of thousands of Chrome browsers.
Trend Micro’s Joseph Chen:
These scripts are injected into every website the user visits. These libraries are meant to be used to replay a user’s visit to a website, so that the site owner can see what the user saw, and what he entered into the machine, among other things
Another reason why I seldom recommend Chrome to anyone. I have a conscience.
What about Firefox? Mozilla’s latest, Firefox 58 is the fastest browser I’ve ever used on the Mac and it comes with plenty of user friendly ad and tracker blocker options. The next version, Firefox 59 will prevent websites from checking out which websites you recently visited. Steve Ranger:
Firefox 59 will reduce how much information websites pass on about visitors in an attempt to improve privacy for users of its private browsing mode.
Is that a problem for browser users? It’s a huge problem.
It has to do with what is known commonly as the ‘referrer value’ which lets websites know which website you visited before. The problem is that data leaks between websites. Firefox 59’s private browsing option removes that feature. That’s a good thing.
This has been a slow migration for Mac users, but Safari and Firefox are moving faster toward more privacy and security than Google. Not only has Chrome become the slowest browser of the bunch, it’s important to remember that old adage, ‘follow the money.’ Google’s revenue and profits come from advertising and tracking users. To differentiate their browsers from Chrome, both Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox have focused more on privacy options.
Because I use a virtual private network (VPN) Firefox is my new favorite but I install an ad and tracker blocker on each browser. My website, NoodleMac, does not have ad trackers or even a cookie. Notice how much faster pages load on your browser because all those tracker scripts are missing?
Apple and Mozilla and other browser makers are moving toward more user privacy and security, but Apple seems less serious about it than Mozilla these days.