The PRISM scandal highlighted the need for secure Internet searches, but it isn’t the only reason super secure search engines are catching on. In addition to fears over government monitoring, users have concerns about advertisers, which can buy information about your online searches and use this data to spam you, as well as prying family members, and even employers or schools that go to great lengths to research and monitor their employees.
While Google continues to gobble the lion’s share of the search engine market at almost 68 percent, Microsoft’s Bing holds just under 19 percent of shares, Yahoo! takes 10 percent, Ask.com 2.5 and AOL is left with just over 1 percent. However, only marginal steps have been taken by any of these search engines to boost the security of searches. If you’re looking for a truly secure search, you’re going to have to swap search engines, or opt for a plug-in tool, or both.
Duck Duck Go
With scant little advertising and not much media coverage, Duck Duck Go has quietly been gaining users, especially since the PRISM scandal erupted. The creator, Gabriel Weinberg, said the privacy features were almost an afterthought, but this secure search engine offers private searches that can’t be traced by nosy family members, sneaky advertisers, or even the U.S. government. Using over 50 sources like Bing, Yahoo!, and Wolfram, the results don’t look much different than that of other popular search engines, except for the results don’t show photo and video images like Google does.
The latest release of Duck Duck Go offers some convenient new features users have been asking for, such as slicker answers, less spam and fewer content mill articles, as well as the ability to use Tor to route searches through a series of encrypted relays to retain privacy. It also offers a voice search, the ability to conduct anonymous Google searches, and more new features like image searches, auto-suggest capabilities, places, and more. The search bar has been simplified and the overall design has improved.
While Duck Duck Go is a far cry away from taking significant market shares from giant Google (or even make much of a dent in the market shares of smaller ones like Bing), users are spreading the word to family and friends, and it is catching on.
Some Other Private Search Engines
There are a few other secure search engines similar to Duck Duck Go, like Privatelee, which offers many of the same features, but a slightly less slick interface. It also has a few features Duck Duck Go lacks, like a server location indicator. Qrobe.it is more or less like Privatlee, and like Privatelee, also has the server location indicator. Startpage and IXQuick have both image and video searches, but not auto-suggest. These also lack features in Duck Duck Go and Privatelee, like infinite scrolling, instant answers, search shortcuts, and the Web of Trust.
Instead of Giving Up Your Search Engine, Try a Plug-In
If you like your Google, you can keep your Google.
Many users are quite fond of their search engines, though, and don’t want to have to give up, say the convenience and power of Google, but still want to safeguard their privacy. For these users, the best option is a plug-in like SearchLock. SearchLock keeps your browsing private, while helping you steer clear of websites that pose a threat to your security and privacy, making the entire online experience less of a threat.
SearchLock plug-ins are available for Chrome browsers. Web searchers, SearchLock is the anonymous browsing tool that offers anonymous surfing that’s easy to set up.