Review: 8 secure browser alternatives to Chrome, IE, and Firefox

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Spikes AirGap and Invincea FreeSpace shine in test of eight specialized browsers

The Web browser has been a major infection vector for years, allowing malware to be transported to millions of computers through phishing, man-in-the-middle, SQL injection and countless other attacks. But what if there was a way to stop this madness and secure the browsing channel itself?

There are several key things to look for. First is in understanding your existing browser. When you use Chrome, for example, you agree to let Google track your browsing behavior and offer up search suggestions, send them error reports, track your URLs, and lots more. They claim it is to help improve the user experience, but it also leaves you vulnerable to attacks and records your movements through cyberspace. So a replacement browser should offer some additional privacy components. (There are products that can be used to anonymize your browsing history and protect your identity when you surf online, such as TOR or ZipZap.)

Second, a new browser should be more secure by default and make it difficult for malware writers to inject their code onto your desktops. That seems obvious, but when you consider that the browser is just one piece of a very complex collection of tools, including malware targets such as Flash, Acrobat, Javascript, and others, it can be difficult to cover all the bases.

An active subset in this area includes numerous replacement browsers for Android smartphones, one of the up-and-coming sources of infections today, including products from AVG, McAfee, Opera, Orweb and Bitdefender. Another area includes endpoint security products that include better browser protection, including Bromium's vSentry.

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Finally, the better browser shouldn't detract from the overall surfing experience: websites should look and perform the same as they do in the modern versions of Firefox or Chrome. There are alternative browsers that offer a subset of features and try to be more lightweight than the standard Firefox or Chrome browsers, such as Dillo, Lynx, Epiphany, Konqueror and others. (Watch a slideshow version of this story.)

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