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Future Browsers Will Protect You from Spying

Browser selection

Now that most major Web browsers have similar features, users are looking instead to security and privacy features to determine which program they'll use.

Security firm Sophos, which operates out of both England and the United States, is currently running a poll where users can select their favorite Web browser. At present, Firefox is in the lead, with Chrome a distant second, but the poll itself is not nearly as interesting as the reasoning behind it.

The most secure browser

"Where you choose to put your faith is a big deal because everything you do on the web passes through your browser," wrote Mark Stockley, the poll's overseer. "It goes everywhere with you in the virtual world and, more often than not, it knows exactly where you are in the real world too."

Stockley also pointed out that browsers do not exist in a vacuum — if you trust a browser, then by extension, you trust its manufacturer.

Trusting a software giant like Apple, Google or Microsoft has never been easy, but it's even less so now in light of the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) PRISM program, which can tap into user information that those big companies provide.

Browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and others have gotten to the point where there are few major differences in how each program displays online content. Instead of worrying about which browser has the fastest page load times or the most options for video playback, users want to know how safe their information will be.

"Right now, the choice of a user's browser has a significant effect on security and privacy," Dan Auerbach, a staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation advocacy group, told Tom's Guide. He highlighted some of the security features of each. "If you use Safari, you block third party cookies by default, which greatly enhances your privacy," Auerbach said.

Chrome, on the other hand, has a number of useful security features, but Google itself might prove a risk. "[Chrome] does not seem poised to offer users greater privacy given Google's deep ties to an advertising industry which has been resistant to make changes that help user's privacy," Auerbach said.

MORE: The 40 Best Google Chrome Extensions

On the other hand, Auerbach had nothing bad to say about Firefox. "Firefox offers a good array of security and privacy features, and a great amount of flexibility for power users to customize their browser," he said.