Private Web Searches With DuckDuckGo

Matt Bonvicin Online Privacy/Security Leave a Comment

Our business is one of very few where we don’t even want to know your name.  For your privacy and the security of your assets in our vault, the less we know the better.  That’s why access to the vault is granted through an iris scan which verifies that you’re a valid client but cannot identify who you are.

Our customers value this privacy.  But how can you remain private while browsing the web?

I spend a large portion of my day pouring over website tracking details for the numerous businesses I’m involved in: how many people visited the website, how did they find us, how much time did they spend on the site, where are they located, etc.  This information helps me market our business better.  And while there is no uniquely identifying details telling me that you’re John Public, age 61, living in Westlake Village, the amount of aggregate information available is staggering even to me.

In this Internet e-Privacy Series I’m going to show you a few tricks to make my job of marketing USPV more difficult.  These are techniques I use every day to limit the digital footprint I leave as I browse the web.

Lesson 1 – DuckDuckGo.com: Use a Search Engine Which Values Privacy

DuckDuckGo.com is a Google-alternative search engine with a surprisingly simple privacy policy:

In most search engines like Google or Bing, all of your searches are tracked over time to get a clearer picture of who you are.  This can be used to better target ads to you in the future.  To be fair, some people really do value this convenience, but if you’re reading this article my guess is that you’re not one of them.

Next, add into the mix that the vast majority of web sites use the same (free) software to collect usage details and analyze their traffic: Google Analytics.  This is a little piece of code on the site which sends data back to Google for analysis by the website owner.  When combined with your Google search patterns this results in even more data collection on where you spend your time on the web.

For instance,  my recently retired father spends his mornings playing games on the AARP website;  Google Analytics is used on this site to measure it’s traffic.  So chances are if he next browses to Google to search for “concerts” he’s not going to see the same results as my niece who just searched for “One Direction” (it’s a band, in case you were wondering) on her iPad.

This is called the “search bubble” and, as you can imagine, it gets narrower and more focused within a few days let alone months.

Stop Being Tracked And Get Out Of The Bubble

While that’s a fairly simplistic explanation of some of the tracking that happens in the background during your daily browsing, if you’re still reading I’m guessing you’re looking for an alternative.  My suggestion is DuckDuckGo.com.

DuckDuckGo doesn’t track anything, and doesn’t provide any information to websites you find using their search.  Simply put, when searching for websites it’s the smallest footprint [I’ve yet found] that you can leave behind and their search results are terrific no matter what you’re looking for.  They also offer a neat mobile app for your phone or tablet.

DuckDuckGo Example

For more information on tracking and the “search bubble”, DuckDuckGo has two great resources which explain things in very simple terms:

Happy [private] browsing!  Next week we’re going to dive into the world of two-factor security.  Or password managers… I’m still deciding.

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About the Author

Matt Bonvicin

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Matt is an entrepreneur, programmer, and database/systems admin who enjoys toying with new technologies. He is a partner at U.S. Private Vaults as well as its Chief Technology Officer.

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