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How Safe is DuckDuckGo, the Anonymous Browser?

How Safe is DuckDuckGo, the Anonymous Browser?
Apr 28, 2022
No doubt, Google Chrome is one of the most popular browsers across the world, but many users are shifting to using DuckDuckGo. Often, when you use a search engine to search for something, they also use you.
Buse Eker
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How Safe is DuckDuckGo, the Anonymous Browser? - FastVPN
No doubt, Google Chrome is one of the most popular browsers across the world, but many users are shifting to using DuckDuckGo. Often, when you use a search engine to search for something, they also use you.
So, as you scroll through the search results to find the information you are searching for, the search engine also starts to sift through your personal details. This means you don’t really enjoy the freedom that you think you do. It can track your activity and store your IP address to use for targeted ads and deliver customized search results.
But, DuckDuckGo claims to be different. It claims to be a privacy-focused search engine. So, many people are abandoning Google and flocking to the duck side in droves. But does DuckDuckGo really give you the privacy you are looking for? Or is it just big little lies? That is exactly what we are going to discover through this article.

What is DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo is a simple and basic search engine focusing on its privacy measures and quality to eliminate tracking. Gabriel Weinberg, the Philadelphia-based entrepreneur developed the search engine in 2008. DuckDuckGo is a privacy-friendly alternative to Google. Its main selling point is the privacy it offers.
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The search engine collates results from more than 400 sources. What’s striking is its browser extension for app and desktop comes with additional privacy features, such as track blockers and ad.
Unlike other search engines, DuckDuckGo doesn’t track your activities. So, you get to enjoy search results that haven’t been personalized. It might be surprising but when you use DuckDuckGo, all users get the same results.
More than 80 million people are using the free privacy tools provided by DuckDuckGo to browse anonymously. Since it doesn’t track your activities over the internet, the search engine monetizes by placing private ads on the search engine. These ads are based on your search instead of your browsing habits.
So, if you are searching for the best running shoes, your search engine will only show ads on running shoes. Major browsers, such as Mozilla and Apple are now offering DuckDuckGo as the search-engine option. This shows how it is growing in popularity.
As DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect your search history, every time you use the search engine, it is like a fresh start. However, this also means that you will not find an auto-suggest function in the search engine. It is a small price you pay for browsing privately.

Is DuckDuckGo Actually Anonymous?

You must have noticed that Google knows many things about you even before you do. That can be scary. This is the reason many people look for anonymous search engines, like DuckDuckGo. An anonymous search engine won’t track your searches. But other search engines, like Google, will remember your searches even if you have browsed using the Incognito mode.
Let’s find out how DuckDuckGo makes a difference.
1.     Private Search
Unlike other popular search engines, DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect cookies, user-agent data, or IP addresses. It will not even track the searches linking back to you.
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2.     Tracker Blocking
DuckDuckGo is not a simple anonymous search engine. It can block third-party trackers on the internet from collecting your data.
3.     No Leakage of Search Data
DuckDuckGo uses its search leakage feature to describe how popular search engines reveal or leak your search history to sites you are visiting. But this can risk your privacy. DuckDuckGo is different as it will not share your search history or data with other websites as it doesn’t collect them.
4.     No Tracking System
DuckDuckGo warns websites not to share, collect, or sell data through the Global Privacy Control feature. It is a setting that signals to websites your privacy preference. Often, other browsers don’t pay heed to these requests by the users. In the case of DuckDuckGo, the Do Not Track feature is more than just a suggestion. If websites fail to adhere to this, the browser has the right to take legal action.
5.      Burn Bar
If you are using the browser app on your mobile, you can delete all browsing history and cookies from the device when you are done. Unlike other browsers, your search history will completely disappear, not only from the mobile device but also from the wider web.
6.     Cybersecurity and Privacy Controls
The search engine prevents you from accessing malicious websites. So, you are protected from cyberattacks and common online scams. Also, you have complete control over your privacy settings. Just turn on SafeSearch to find many privacy setting options. Toggle between moderate and strict. You have the option to change the language, theme, and region, too.
So, if you want to browse privately, DuckDuckGo is a safe option in contrast to many other search engines, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla. DuckDuckGo doesn’t store your browsing history or data unless you want it to do so. Rather than feeling like someone on the computer that already knows what you are, every time you use the search engine, you can approach it with a clean slate.

How does DuckDuckGo Make Money?

DuckDuckGo is available for free and doesn’t sell your data. So, how does it make money? Well, it uses affiliate codes to make money. So, whenever you buy a product using this search engine or through an advertisement, DuckDuckGo is going to receive a commission.
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You might think that it can risk your privacy. But you need to understand how it works.
When you are searching for something over DuckDuckGo, such as a book, you will find ads popping up on the browser related to what you have searched. However, as soon as you open a new page in DuckDuckGo to search, all browsing and personal information from the last search will become obsolete.

How to Use DuckDuckGo?

You might already have an idea about how to use Google. Then you will encounter no problem using DuckDuckGo. The search engine is very user-friendly. All you have to do is visit the official website using a web browser on your desktop, laptop, or mobile device.
In case you are using an Android smartphone, you can download the browser app from Google Play Store. More than half a billion people have already downloaded the app. With the app, you can have a user-friendly experience.
But if you are an iOS user, download DuckDuckGo using the Safari browser’s Settings. You can also download it from the App Store.
On your desktop, you can use DuckDuckGo from the application, website, or extension.
You will find a search box on your screen where you will have to enter the keywords. Just press enter and you can get the results based on the search query.

Pros and Cons of Using DuckDuckGo

Here we are going to discuss the pros and cons of using DuckDuckGo.
  • It provides you with complete online privacy
  • The search engine doesn’t record search history or user information
  • You get unbiased results as it doesn’t discriminate any content
  • It is faster than Google and doesn’t take much time to redirect you
  • You are not bombarded with targeted ads based on your personal information or previous searches
  • The algorithm is not as strong as other popular search engines so the searches might not be as good as Google.
  • It compiles information from various sources to deliver it to you.
  • You are responsible for protecting yourself from malware, ransomware, and viruses
  • There are no auto-suggestions or personalization like other search engines

DuckDuckGo vs. Google

Just because DuckDuckGo is making good progress doesn’t mean Google is on its way to the exit. But many people are using Google because they have been doing it for a long time and they do not know that there might be a better option for them out there.
Here we are going to compare DuckDuckGo and Google Chrome to help you make the best choice.
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1.     Privacy
For Google users, one of the primary concerns is privacy. Many are bothered about the amount of data that is being collected by the search engine on a daily basis.
You might have noticed that after you have had a chat with your friends about a new game, the game-related content starts to pop up everywhere. Does that mean your phone is listening to your talks?
Even Amazon targets you through pre-order ads for the game that you were talking about. Twitter might start to suggest top gamers. All these can make you feel that you are being spied on.
Google hasn’t yet declared anything about how much user data it is collecting or what they do to monitor privacy. Their privacy policy might be a little difficult for users and they have been questioned by many about the related topics.
So, users who are concerned about their privacy are shifting to DuckDuckGo. The privacy policy of the search engine is straightforward. Hence, nothing gets lost in translation. DuckDuckGo won’t track your search history or store your IP address.
The search engine will also not collect and share your personal or browsing details with advertisers. Thus, they won’t bombard you with targeted ads. The ads you see are based on relevance and not your data.
2.     Search Engine Results
When you are searching for something over the internet, you look for unbiased results. But that is not what you find on Google. On Google, the search results are customized to what they assume you are going to click on based on the data profile they have created over time.
At first, it might seem like something useful. But usually, people want localization instead of personalization. For instance, if they are searching for the best pizza eatery, they want the search engine to showcase localized results without tracking. This is what DuckDuckGo does. Your location information is already embedded by the device in the search request. So, the search engine uses local results and discards them as soon as you close the browser.
Personalized results are not as helpful as you take them to be. This is because they show you the results that they think you are going to click on and skip the ones that they assume you won’t. This is the reason it is known as Filter Bubble.
DuckDuckGo makes sure you are not put into a Filter Bubble.
3.     Result Organization
DuckDuckGo, as well as Google, uses a model that many other search engines depend on. Through a blend of their own data collected from different sources and web crawlers, both help in digging up results that are most relevant to your search. Being in the market for such a long time, Google operates on a larger scale. However, the method is usually comparable.
But even then, you will find a difference in the search result when you use Google vs. DuckDuckGo. If you get the same search results, why are they organized differently?
On Google, when you click on a search result, the platform sends certain search terms directly to the site you are visiting. Check the HTTP header and you will notice original search words being showcased to you. The IP address is shared for the websites to identify. However, this is something you encounter with DuckDuckGo. It is a practice that has been named ‘Search Leakage’ by the search engine. This helps in protecting the search history and there is nothing to control the search results.

Do You Need a VPN Too?

Even though DuckDuckGo is one of the top private search engines out there, it is not encompassing. As the search engine redirects you to a website, that particular website tracks you. Even if you are using DuckDuckGo to get to any website, you can be identified as your IP address isn’t linked to the profile. However, the site you are reaching can collect your details and track your browsing habits.
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So, how can you protect yourself? Well, you can use a VPN.
Here’s how a VPN can help. Without a VPN there is no guarantee that the browser you are using is encrypting the data.
Let’s take a look at how a VPN can help.
1.     Encryption
While you use DuckDuckGo, the traffic is not encrypted. This means anyone will be able to see your IP address and what you are up to. It can be risky, especially if you are browsing the internet using public Wi-Fi. You might unveil cyberattacks and hackers. But if you use a VPN, it will encrypt your traffic using AES-256 bit encryption. This will help in hiding your real IP address.
2.     No Tracking by Other Websites
DuckDuckGo offers the privacy you need when you are searching for something. However, it might not be able to protect you when you are redirected to some other websites. But you can use a VPN to prevent other websites from tracking what you are searching for or what you are doing on their site.
3.     No Online Threats
Even though DuckDuckGo is providing you the privacy you need, it is not protecting you from the activities of cybercriminals and other online threats. Hence, to protect yourself, you should use a VPN. This way the cybercriminals will not be able to track your data and target you.
Using a VPN along with DuckDuckGo will ensure the highest amount of protection.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for privacy and anonymity while browsing the internet, use DuckDuckGo and a VPN. DuckDuckGo will make sure that you are browsing privately, while the VPN will make sure that your activity on the browser is never logged in. When you use a VPN, your traffic goes through an encrypted tunnel. Hence, no matter what you do, no one will know. Since you know that third-party won’t be able to steal your data or track your location, you can browse with peace of mind.
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