I’ve been using Firefox for a very long time. Although it’s not currently set as my default web browser, whenever I need to do something that requires heightened security (such as sending banking or viewing sensitive information), I always turn to the open-source web browser.
This is not to say that other browsers aren’t secure. But if I want to get the most out of security on my web browsing, there is no other browser I’d rather use. With browsers such as Chrome, you always have to pay very close attention to ensure you always have the latest version of the software. Otherwise, you might be vulnerable to critical (and even numerous) issues. And, unlike Firefox, some browsers don’t ship with the most secure defaults. For example, by default, Chrome configures third-party cookies to only be blocked when in Incognito mode.
But what about Firefox that makes it more secure than the other browsers on the market? Let’s dive in and take a look. Other browsers also offer similar features. However, Firefox not only ships with the features, it also has them either enabled by default or very easy to set up.
1. Anti-phishing and malware protection
Firefox ships with both anti-phishing and malware protection enabled out of the box. For those who don’t know, phishing is when a site purports to be from a reputable company to get users to reveal personal/sensitive information about themselves (such as passwords, credit card numbers, bank account information, etc.).
Firefox’s anti-phishing and malware protection features do an outstanding job of warning you when a page you’ve visited has been reported as a phishing page to keep you from handing over information. The built-in features protect you from deceptive sites, attack sites, malware, and other unwanted software. These features are enabled by default and are found in Settings > Privacy & Security > Security.
I’ve tested Firefox against numerous known phishing sites and it never fails to catch those sites more reliably than other browsers.
2. Minimal data collection
Although nearly all browsers collect some form of data, Firefox makes it possible to define what kind of data is collected. In Privacy & Security > Firefox Data Collection and Use, you’ll find the following statement:
We strive to provide you with choices and collect only what we need to provide and improve Firefox for everyone. We always ask permission before receiving personal information.
Below that, you’ll find four checkboxes, three of which are checked by default. You can uncheck any of those boxes to prevent any of that information from being sent to Mozilla. All telemetry data that is collected via Firefox is deleted after 13 months.
You can read more about Mozilla’s telemetry policy on the website.
3. Automatic tracker blocking
Of all the browsers I’ve used, Firefox has the most powerful tracker blocking. If you’re unsure of what a tracker is, it’s a cookie or tracking pixel inserted into a site you visit that collects your information to create a profile on you. That information can be sold to advertising companies or used for other, less legitimate, purposes.
With Firefox, you have three options for tracking protection: Standard, Strict, or Custom. Even the Standard option (which blocks social media trackers, cross-site cookies, tracking content in private windows, cryptominers, and fingerprints) is stronger than most other browsers. If that’s not strong enough, go with either Strict or a Custom option. The only problem with the Strict option is that it will probably break the functionality of some sites. If you find that to be the case, go with the custom option, where you can define what types of trackers Firefox blocks.
No other browser gives you this level of tracker-blocking customization.
4. DNS over HTTPS (DoH) encrypted browsing
DNS over HTTPS means all of your DNS queries are encrypted to increase your privacy and security by preventing eavesdropping on your network traffic. This means anyone who’s trying to pry into your web traffic as it leaves your computer will have a very hard time viewing it.
Firefox enables DNS over HTTPS by default and uses Cloudflare as the provider. You can also add exceptions for sites that might load slowly or not function properly from within Privacy & Security > DNS over HTTPS. You also have four options for this feature, which are default protection, increased protection, max protection, or off.
5. Support for proprietary and third-party security extensions
If you have third-party security extensions you depend on (such as uBlock Origin, DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials, Privacy Badger, Ghostery, AdGuard AdBlocker, NoScript Security Suite, etc.), Firefox has you covered.
Yes, every browser offers security extensions. And even though Chrome does offer a larger catalog of privacy and security extensions, it’s commonly accepted that Firefox’s extensions have a much higher impact on day-to-day usage. On top of that, the vetting process for Firefox extensions is much stricter than that of Chrome’s. When you go to an extension page in Firefox, you’ll see all extensions that are recommended and even those that are not actively monitored for security by Firefox. If you find an extension that is not actively monitored, you’d be best served by not installing it.
All of these features come together to make Firefox one of (if not the) most secure of the mainstream browsers. If this is what you need to push you over the edge into Firefox territory, go ahead and download the installer from the official page and start your journey.