What is Internet Browser and Their Characteristics

What is Internet Browser and Their Characteristics

What is Internet Browser and Their Characteristics:  

An internet browser is a software program that people use to view web pages on the computer. It is also known as web browser or simply a browser. When a user requests a web page from a website, the web browser accepts the request and retrieves the necessary content from a web server and then displays the page on the user’s device. Web browsers are used on a variety of devices like desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones. There are different types of best internet browser in use across the world, for example, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and so on.

List of Internet Browsers:

Google Chrome: 
It was developed by Google and it was first released on September 2, 2018 for Microsoft windows. The most commonly used browser is Google Chrome, with a 64% global market share on all devices combined.

Characteristics of Google Chrome:

  1. Task manager: Chrome has its own “Task Manager” that shows memory and CPU usage of each tab. 
  2. Upgraded tabs: In Chrome you can drag a tab into its own window and drag it back to the main window, something known as “Dynamic Tabs”. 

Mozilla Firefox: 
It is a new browser derived from Mozilla. It was released in 2004 and is the second most popular browser on the internet.

Characteristics of Mozilla Firefox: 

  1. New tab page: Firefox gives you access to great content every time you open a new tab.
  2. Search everything with the unified search: It helps you to search everything whether you know the exact web address or you’re just searching.

Internet Explorer: 
It’s a web browser developed by Microsoft, starting in 1995. It was one of the most widely used web browser, with about 95% usage share by 2003. Users can also use Internet Explorer to access online banking, make purchases over the internet and much more.

Characteristics of Internet Explorer:

  1. Personal Bar: Internet Explorer brings a new level of personalization to web browsing.
  2. Privacy: It provides privacy to the end users 

Opera: 
Opera is smaller and faster than most other browsers. It is ideal for newcomers to the internet, school children etc.

Characteristics of Opera: 

  1. Fast: It is one of the fastest browsers available today and is also known as “speed dial browsing”.
  2. Zoom functions: It provides a variety of zoom functions. Instead of just making the text bigger, this feature expands all the page elements including text, images, and videos.

Other popular browsers include UC Browser, Safari, Linux and so on. However, secure browsers are one that protects your online privacy and security. Similarly, speed and accuracy of search results are other prime considerations while selecting your browser.  

Security: How well does the browser protect you from hackers and other online exploits?

Privacy: How much data is the browser itself collecting about you and whom it shares the data with? How does the browser protect your online privacy and identity?

Best Browser:
Based on the above parameters, Firefox appears to be the best browser available today. It provides excellent security and privacy control to it’s users. 

It offers strong privacy protection features, several customization options, excellent security and regular updates. The newest version of Firefox is fast and light weight with many privacy customization options. Firefox is not best for privacy but it can be customized in Firefox privacy modifications. Within the Privacy & Security settings area, there are many useful customization options for different levels of privacy like Standard, Strict or Custom.

Other benefits of Mozilla Firefox include:
•    Open source code that has been audited by a third party.
•    Active development with frequent updates.
•    Excellent privacy features and customization options.
•    Many browsers extensions supported.
•    Offers other modifications necessary for more privacy and security.
•    It also protects the data of users from hackers.

Privacy and Security Customization:
Firefox allows the users to modify the configuration settings. Open Firefox and type “about:config” in the URL bar. You will see the following message:

“This might void your warranty! Changing these advanced settings can be harmful to the stability, security and performance of this application. You should only continue if you are sure of what you are doing”. 

Accept the risks. To change most of the settings, double click the setting to toggle the slider between “True” and “False”. For other parameters you need to provide a number. You should search the for desired parameter, in the search bar of “about:config” page, as shown below: 

About:Config

Recommended Parameter Values:

  • privacy.trackingprotection.enabled: True

-as it blocks website’s tracking 

  • geo.enabled: False

-as it disables Firefox from sharing the user's location data

  • browser.safebrowsing.phishing.enabled: False 

-as it disables Google’s “Safe Browsing” and “Phishing” protection. Otherwise, Google scans and stores the sites for the presence of malwares.

  • browser.safebrowsing.malware.enabled: False 

-as it disables Google’s ability to scan and store sites for the presence of malwares. 

  • dom.event.clipboardevents.enabled: False 

-as many websites request a notification, if we copy an image or text. Setting the slider to “False” disables this ability of the websites. 

  • media.navigator.enabled: False 

-as it disables the website's ability to see webcam and micro-phone (On/Off) status

  • dom.battery.enabled: False 

-as it disables the website's ability to see the exact battery levels

WebRTC: (Web Real - Time Communications): 

WebRTC is a new communication protocol that relies on JavaScript. It can leak our actual IP address behind the VPN. Hence, consider the following settings:

  • media.peerconnection.enabled: False
  • media.peerconnection.turn.disable: True
  • media.peerconnection.use_document_iceservers: False
  • media.peerconnection.video.enabled: False
  • media.peerconnection.identity.timeout: 1

Unfortunately, WebRTC cannot be fully disabled in Google Chrome. 

Additional Recommended Changes:

For furtherance of privacy, you may apply following additional changes: 

  • privacy.firstparty.isolate: True

-Isolates all the browser identifiers (e.g. cookies) to prevent tracking across different domains

  • privacy.resistFingerprinting: True 

-Makes Firefox more resistant to browser finger-printing

  • browser.cache.offline.enable: False 

-Disables offline cache

  • browser.sessionstore.max_tabs_undo: 0 

-Even when Firefox is barred from remembering history, closed tabs are stored temporarily at Menu >History >Recently Closed Tabs.

  • browser.urlbar.speculativeConnect.enabled: False 

-Disables pre-loading of auto-complete URLs. Firefox preloads URLs that auto-complete when user types in the address bar. A concern if URLs suggested are not the intended ones. 

  • network.cookie.cookieBehavior: 1 

-Disables cookies
0 = Accepts all cookies by default
1 = Only accepts from the originating site (blocks third-party cookies)
2 = Blocks all cookies by default

  • network.cookie.lifetimePolicy: 2 

-Cookies are deleted at the end of the session
0 = Accepts cookies normally
1 = Prompts for each cookie
2 = Accepts for current session only
3 = Accepts for N days

  • network.http.referer.trimmingPolicy: 2 

-Sends only the scheme, host and port in the Referer header
0 = Sends the full URL in the Referer header
1 = Sends the URL without its query string in the Referer header
2 = Sends only the scheme, host and port in the Referer header

  • webgl.disabled: True 

-WebGL is a potential security risk.

  • browser.sessionstore.privacy_level: 2 

-This preference controls when to store extra information about a session: contents of forms, scroll-bar positions, cookies and POST data. 
0 = Stores extra session data for any site. 
1 = Stores extra session data for unencrypted (non-HTTPS) sites only. 
2 = Never stores extra session data.

-Limits the amount of identifiable information sent when requesting the Mozilla’s harmful extension block-list. Optionally, the block-list can be disabled entirely by setting extensions.blocklist.enabled to false for increased privacy, but decreased security.