Extra steps for privacy protection on the web

We have seen on some of our previous posts how to search on incognito mode on google and on other web browsers. But, we know that browsing on incognito doesn’t make us invisible on the web, because our search engine, internet providers and the pages you vistil still can store information about you. It simply is a feature that allows us to delete our search history and cookies once we close all private tabs. But they are not private.

Why does your search engine of election stores information about you?

Have you noticed how one day you search for anything (for example makeup stores online), and magically some days later you see an ad related to this? The reason for this is that search engines often build up profiles based on your activity, which they later sell to advertisement companies so that they know the ads which you are more likely to click on. It is a practice made by all of the popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. And even if you don’t search anything, most of them offer complementary services, like email, which you normally use to sign up on different sites. So whenever you sign in to your account, this information is also stored. Talk about lack of privacy, right?

An alternative that not many people know in regards to this are the private search engines, which allows us to search and browse the web without our search terms being stored, going the extra mile to keep your browsing really private.

One of the most commonly known private search engines is DuckDuckGo. As its privacy page says, DuckDuckGo doesn’t log any personally identifiable information. DuckDuckGo doesn’t use cookies to identify you, and it discards user agents and IP addresses from its server logs. DuckDuckGo doesn’t event attempt to generate an anonymized identifier to tie searches together – DuckDuckGo has no way of knowing whether two searches even came from the same computer. Because it knows nothing about you, it can’t serve different results to different users. You’ll get the same results as everyone else.

If you prefer Google’s search results and just want more privacy, try Ixquick’s Startpage. Startpage searches Google for you – when you submit a search, Startpage submits the search to Google and returns the results to you. All Google sees is a large amount of searches coming from Startpage’s servers – they can’t tie any searches to you or track your searches.

Startpage discards all personally identifiable information. Like DuckDuckGo, Startpage doesn’t use cookies, it immediately discards IP addresses, and it doesn’t keep a record of searches performed. It also includes a proxy feature — you can open a page in Ixquick’s proxy directly from the search results. This is slower than normal browsing, but websites won’t be able to see your IP address. The proxy also disables JavaScript to protect your privacy.

Ixquick is the main search engine from the company that runs Startpage. Unlike Startpage, Ixquick pulls results from a variety of sources instead of only Google – this can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how much you like Google’s search results. Ixquick and Startpage have essentially the same design. Ixquick includes the same privacy features Startpage does, including the Ixquick proxy links in the search results.

Another alternative is Blekko, but it doesn’t go as far as DuckDuckGo and Ixquick. Still, it’s a big improvement over Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Blekko does log personally identifiable information, but deletes it within 48 hours. In contrast, Google stores this information for 9 months – and then anonymizes it without actually deleting it. You can disable the data collection entirely by enabling the SuperPrivacy setting. Blekko even lets you disable ads entirely.

To surf anonymously everywhere — at the cost of slower browsing speed — try the Tor Browser Bundle. It is a free software and open network that defends against network surveillance, keeping you anonymous around the Web. They were developed with people in repressive regimes in mind, to ensure anonymity. It ensures that what you’re searching for is not seen. These are for people who don’t want what they’re doing on the Internet to be tracked back to their IP address.

If this information was useful to you, tell us in the comments below!

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