The Mullvad Browser: A Privacy-Focused Browser Designed to Reduce Your Fingerprint
Meet the Mullvad browser, which promises better privacy on the internet.
The Tor Project, which is responsible for the development of the anonymous network and browser, has collaborated with Mullvad VPN to launch a privacy-focused browser that is designed to connect to a VPN rather than a decentralized onion network. The new browser is called Mullvad browser and is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.
The primary objective of the Mullvad browser is to enhance your privacy online by making it more difficult for advertisers and other companies to track your internet activity. This is achieved by reducing your browser's "fingerprint", which refers to all the metadata that websites can collect to uniquely identify your device. Your fingerprint can include basic information such as the browser and operating system you're using, as well as more invasive data such as the fonts and extensions installed, and the input/output devices accessible by your browser.
When all of these factors are taken into account, your browser's fingerprint can be used to identify you uniquely, even without the use of tracking technologies like cookies. There are various tools that can be used to assess the fingerprintability of your browser. The tool provided by the Electronic Frontier Foundation is particularly highly recommended, as it offers an easily understandable explanation of the results.
When using the Mullvad browser, your metadata is masked by default, making it more difficult for websites to fingerprint you. Additionally, the browser blocks third-party cookies and trackers, and comes with only a few pre-installed plugins to further reduce your fingerprint. Other privacy-focused browsers such as Brave claim to block fingerprinting as well, but they come with many extensions that could potentially be identified if a website manages to bypass their protections.
It is possible to configure a browser like Firefox, which the Mullvad browser (as well as the Tor Browser) is based on, to have similar privacy protections. However, this would require some degree of technical expertise, as you need to know which settings to adjust and have the confidence that you haven't missed anything.
Mullvad browser aims to simplify privacy protection by taking care of the technical configuration for you. By reducing your browser's fingerprint, blocking third-party cookies and trackers, and limiting pre-installed plugins, Mullvad makes it harder for websites to track you across the internet. The browser provides an additional layer of privacy protection for everyday browsing, and challenges the business model of exploiting people's behavioral data. However, it's important to note that these measures may not be effective against advanced tracking techniques used by government and law enforcement agencies.
While the Tor Browser provides an unparalleled level of privacy and security, its user-unfriendliness and slow speed can make it inconvenient for everyday browsing. For most users who are simply looking to avoid being tracked by advertisers, the Mullvad browser provides a convenient and effective solution. With its pre-installed protections against fingerprinting, third-party cookies, and trackers, the Mullvad browser offers a level of privacy that is easily accessible for most users. However, it should be noted that these measures may not be sufficient for those looking to avoid more advanced tracking methods used by government agencies and other well-resourced entities.
Pavel Zoneff, a spokesperson for The Tor Project, has stated that the Mullvad browser operates similarly to the Tor Browser, but instead of connecting to the internet through the Tor network, it connects via a VPN. Users can use any VPN service they trust or have created themselves, not just Mullvad's VPN. It's important to note that the Mullvad browser does not provide the same user experience for circumnavigating censorship or accessing onion sites, nor does it include the same level of circuit isolation and integration with new-identity as the Tor browser. However, if these terms are unfamiliar, then this may not be a significant issue for most users.
While Mullvad browser aims to make browsing more private, it may not be as user-friendly as mainstream browsers like Chrome. Some websites may not work properly due to certain privacy settings, and using the cookie-cleaning feature could result in having to sign into services more frequently. It's important to remember that while reducing your fingerprint can make it harder to track you, it's not a foolproof method, and being the only person using the browser could still make you identifiable. Nonetheless, Mullvad browser could be a good starting point for those looking to improve their privacy online.
A look at the limitations of the Mullvad browser compared to the Tor browser
The Mullvad browser is designed to improve online privacy, but it has limitations compared to the Tor browser. One of the main differences is that the Mullvad browser connects to the internet through a VPN, while the Tor browser uses the Tor network. This means that the Mullvad browser does not offer the same level of circuit isolation and new identity integration as the Tor browser.
Circuit isolation is a feature in the Tor browser that prevents websites from identifying your IP address by routing your traffic through multiple servers. This ensures that each server in the circuit only knows the IP addresses of the previous and next servers in the chain, thereby enhancing your privacy. Additionally, the Tor browser offers a new identity feature that enables you to quickly create a new circuit and IP address, which makes it harder for websites to track your online activity over time.
The Mullvad browser does not offer the same level of circuit isolation and new identity features as the Tor browser. Although users can use any VPN service with the Mullvad browser, it does not have the same level of network integration as the Tor browser does with the Tor network.
The Mullvad browser lacks support for accessing onion sites, unlike the Tor browser. Onion sites can only be accessed through the Tor network and offer an additional layer of anonymity and security. Although onion sites may not be necessary for most users, they can be beneficial for individuals who require increased privacy and security online.
Mullvad is still a competent alternative
While the Mullvad browser may not provide the same level of privacy and security features as the Tor browser, it still serves as a useful tool for enhancing online privacy, particularly for those seeking to avoid tracking by advertisers. The browser's built-in protections against fingerprinting, third-party cookies, and trackers make it a convenient and effective solution for everyday browsing. However, for users who require the highest level of privacy and security, the Tor browser may be a better option to consider.Advertisement