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What Search Engines Really Provide a "Private" Browsing Experience?

What Search Engines Really Provide a "Private" Browsing Experience?
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By David Balaban
Contributor, InCyberDefense

Google searches are so popular that the term “to google” has become a verb that is already firmly embedded in our everyday dictionary. Many people use numerous free and paid Google services. However, not everyone understands that their activity is thoroughly tracked by that ubiquitous search engine.

Google knows what toilet paper you prefer and what your favorite color is. In other words, Google knows almost everything about you. Google uses this data to adjust the contextual advertising that you see when you visit social networks or any website that contains integrated Google ads.

In case you are not looking for information in the incognito mode, Google knows more about you than your family does. Are you okay with this?

Use Search Engines that Do Not Spy on You

If not, then perhaps you should use other search engines that do not have enormous resources to spy on you, a search engine that is not part of Google, Bing or Yahoo.

Even if anonymity is not your priority, there are alternatives to Google that can help you hide your most eccentric and unusual queries.

DuckDuckGo is a secure search engine that does not track or keep a history of user queries. Its interface is similar to the Google interface. DuckDuckGo can handle any search term perfectly well and provides quick results.

This search engine has several additional functions. For example, DuckDuckGo shows instant answers like Google. But you do not have to click on links to find a short answer to a particular question. DuckDuckGo has several search categories: web pages, pictures and videos. The search engine also features a category for finding recipes.

By using DuckDuckGo, you will not face contextual advertising on social networks or other websites. DuckDuckGo even allows you to save the search settings in its cloud storage.

Startpage also gives you the ability to search the Internet without tracking your activities. The Startpage connection goes through a proxy server, so the websites you visit cannot track your IP address or location. You can add Startpage to your browser search providers and stay constantly protected.

Wolfram Alpha is not your usual search engine. It is more like a robot that tries to find the correct answer to your queries. Best of all, this tool works with queries like “where,” “what” and “how.” Wolfram Alpha does not track your search requests, but offers query options if you are not sure how to formulate them. If you want to find information about health, geography, music, economics, finance or make calculations, Wolfram Alpha is the best option because it gives accurate and full answers.

Swisscows also quickly delivers results without tracking your requests. This system has a nice interface and a home page that lists the most popular and frequent queries, so you may not even need to type your own question. This system is also useful if you are just looking for topics to read about.

Swisscows encrypts your requests, so there is no data leak and third parties will not be able to access the data. Because Swisscows does not track where you are, you will get results from around the world if you do not specify a location. Also, Swisscows does not provide any search results with pornographic content.

Tor is a upgraded version of Firefox and onion technology that emphasizes privacy. Tor is a free downloadable program. The Tor browser network consists of a multitude of servers run by volunteers.

Anonymity is provided by connecting to three repeaters, each of which is encrypted. As a result, it is impossible to trace the path of an information flow. Tor uses an IP address that often belongs to a foreign country and is always hidden from the websites that the user visits.

With so many search engines, why limit yourself to Google? You may need some time to get used to these new search engines, but once everything becomes a habit, you will be happy with your choice.

Nevertheless, if you are a bit paranoid or you want to use services that are not available in your region, you can always resort to VPN services. They encrypt all traffic and use servers located around the world.

About the Author

David Balaban is a computer security researcher with over 15 years of experience in malware analysis and antivirus software evaluation. David runs the Privacy-PC.com website, which presents expert opinions on information security matters, social engineering, penetration testing, threat intelligence, online privacy and white hat hacking. David has a strong malware troubleshooting background, with a recent focus on ransomware countermeasures.

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