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Check out these four tips to make the most of DuckDuckGo’s privacy and security features | Shutterstock


DuckDuckGo is a fantastic search engine if you’re fed up with the spying eyes of Google and other search providers. The service vows to never collect information about you and certainly never sell your searches to advertisers.

While that’s enticing in itself, there are features within DuckDuckGo you can take advantage of to enhance your privacy and security even more. The search engine is highly customizable, so that puts the control in good hands: your own. Make the most of DuckDuckGo with these useful tips to boost your privacy online and intensify your security.

1. Turn on WOT Icons

Enabling WOT icons in your search results means you’ll be able to stay away from potentially dangerous websites. WOT stands for Web of Trust, which is a service that analyzes the possible security threats from each website. A green circle means it’s in the clear (safe), yellow means take caution before visiting the website and red means avoid at all cost.

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Since DuckDuckGo has this functionality built in, you can turn this on from the Advanced Settings. Click the Menu icon at the top right of the DuckDuckGo homepage and choose Advanced Settings. Click the Appearance tab, then scroll all the way down to find the WOT Icons option. Click Off to then turn it on and be sure to click Save and Exit to apply the changes.

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Tip: All tips in this article will require you to first click the Menu icon and choose Advanced Settings so keep that in mind for later.

2. Ditch Google Maps

If you’re particularly anti-Google and don’t want any aspect of your online life tracked, then you probably don’t want DuckDuckGo using Google Maps to find you directions. Depending on your current settings, however, this might be the case.

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To ensure that DuckDuckGo uses a different provider for directions, head into your DuckDuckGo Advanced Settings to pick something different. Under the General tab, scroll to find Directions Source.

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Then pick your preference: either Bing Maps, Google Maps, HERE Maps or OpenStreetMap. Apple Maps is also available if you’re using a Mac.

3. Prevent Websites from Knowing How You Got There

DuckDuckGo has a nifty little feature called Redirect. With Redirect enabled, websites won’t be able to track which search term you used to land on the page. This is because when you click a link, DuckDuckGo temporarily redirects to a subdomain before bringing you to the website. (You won’t even notice.)

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Note: While this prevents the websites from gathering information about your search, it can still gather your information just from the browser itself. Check out our guides for enabling Do Not Track in Google Chrome and Internet Explorer to stop this snooping activity as well.

Head to the Advanced Settings on DuckDuckGo, click the Privacy tab then click to ensure that Redirect is on to enable this feature. Click Save and Exit to apply.

4. Anonymous Cloud Save

Since DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect information about you, that means it can’t always recognize that it’s you performing your search. However, if you’re one to tweak with settings (like the ones above) or the theme, you might want to keep these settings in sync across multiple devices. That way you don’t have to go back and make the changes every time.

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DuckDuckGo’s Cloud Save feature is completely anonymous, so it still won’t collect information about you. When you have all your settings lined up that you want to sync, just click Save Settings under Cloud Save in the Advanced Settings. This will prompt you to Enter a pass phrase that you’ll need to remember for the future to restore your data later. Click Save and you’re all set.

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Now, when you want to restore your DuckDuckGo preferences, you can do so in the same spot: click Load Settings under Advanced Settings and enter in that pass phrase.

Source: This article was published on guidingtech.com By 

Categorized in Search Engine

Achieving internet privacy is possible but often requires overlapping services

It’s one of the internet’s oft-mentioned 'creepy' moments. A user is served a banner ad in their browser promoting products on a site they visited hours, days or months in the past. It’s as if the ads are following them around from site to site. Most people know that the issue of ad stalking – termed 'remarketing' or 'retargeting' - has something to do with cookies but that’s barely the half of it.

The underlying tracking for all this is provided by the search engine provider, be that Google, Microsoft or Yahoo, or one of a number of programmatic ad platforms most people have never heard of. The ad system notices which sites people are visiting, choosing an opportune moment to 're-market' products from a site they visited at some point based on how receptive it thinks they will be. The promoted site has paid for this privilege of course. Unless that cookie is cleared, the user will every now and then be served the same ad for days or weeks on end.

Is this creepy? Only if you don’t understand what is really going on when you use the internet. As far as advertisers are concerned, if the user has a negative feeling about it then the remarketing has probably not worked.

If it was only advertisers, privacy would be challenging enough but almost every popular free service, including search engines, social media, cloud storage and webmail, now gathers intrusive amounts of personal data as a fundamental part of its business model. User data is simply too valuable to advertisers and profilers not to. The service is free precisely because the user has 'become the product' whose habits and behaviour can be sold on to third parties. Broadband providers, meanwhile, are increasingly required by governments to store the internet usage history of subscribers for reasons justified by national security and policing.

The cost of privacy - dynamic pricing

Disturbingly, this personal tracking can also cost surfers money through a marketing technique called 'dynamic pricing' whereby websites mysteriously offer two users a different bill for an identical product or service. How this is done is never clear but everything from the browser used, the search engine in question the time of day, the buying history of the user or the profile of data suggesting their affluence may come into play. Even the number of searches could raise the price.

This seems to be most common when buying commodity services such as flights, hotel rooms and car rental, all of which are sold through a network of middlemen providers who get to decide the rules without having to tell anyone what these are. Privacy in this context becomes about being treated fairly, something internet providers don't always seem keen to do.

How to browse privately

Achieving privacy requires finding a way to minimise the oversight of internet service providers (IPS) as well as the profiling built into browsers, search engines and websites. It is also important to watch out for DNS name servers used to resolve IP addresses because these are increasingly used as data capture systems.

At any one of these stages, data unique to each user is being logged. This is especially true when using search engines while logged into services such as Google or Facebook. You might not mind that a particular search is logged by the search provider but most people don’t realise how this is connected directly to personal data such as IP address, browser and computer ID not to mention the name and email address for those services.

Put bluntly, the fact that an individual searched for health, job or legal advice is stored indefinitely as part of their personal online profile whether they like it or not.

VPNs

In theory, the traditional way of shielding internet use from ISPs can be achieved using a VPN provider.

A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel from the user’s device and the service provider’s servers which means that any websites visited after that become invisible to the user’s primary ISP. In turn, the user’s IP address is also hidden from those websites. Notice, however, that the VPN provider can still see which sites are being visited and will also know the user’s ISP IP.

Why are some VPNs free? Good question but one answer is that they can perform precisely the same sort of profiling of user behaviour that the ISP does but for commercial rather than legal reasons. In effect, the user has simply swapped the spying of one company, the ISP, for another, the VPN.

Post-Snowden, a growing number advertise themselves as 'no logging' providers, but how far the user is willing to go in this respect needs to be thought about. Wanting to dodge tracking and profiling is one thing, trying to avoid intelligence services quite another because it assumes that there are no weaknesses in the VPN software or even the underlying encryption that have not been publicly exposed.

IPVanish

IPVanish is a well-regarded US-based service offering an unusually wide range of software clients, including for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu Linux, as well as mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone. There is also a setup routine for DD-WRT and Tomato for those who use open source router firmware. Promoted on the back of speed (useful when in a coffee shop) and global reach as well as security. On that topic, it requires no personal data other than for payment and states that it does not collect or log any user traffic.

Cyberghost

Another multi-platform VPN, Romanian-based Cyberghost goes to some lengths to advertise its security features, its main USP. These include multi-protocol support (OpenVPN, IPSec, L2TP and PPTP), DNS leak prevention, IP sharing (essentially subnetting multiple users on one virtual IP) and IPv6 protection. Provisions around 50 servers for UK users. It also says it doesn’t store user data.

Privacy browsers

All browsers claim to be ‘privacy browsers’ if the services around them are used in specific ways, for example in incognito or privacy mode. As wonderful as Google’s Chrome or Microsoft’s Edge might be their primary purpose, isn't security. The companies that offer them simply have too much to gain from

The companies that offer them simply have too much to gain from a world in which users are tagged, tracked and profiled no matter what their makers say. To Google’s credit, the company doesn’t really hide this fact and does a reasonable job of explaining its privacy settings.

Firefox, by contrast, is by some distance the best of the browser makers simply because it does not depend on the user tracking that helps to fund others. But this becomes moot the minute you log into third-party services, which is why most of the privacy action in the browser space now centres around add-ons.

Epic Privacy Browser

Epic is a Chromium-based browser that takes a minimalistic approach to browsing in order to maximise privacy. It claims that both cookies and trackers are deleted after each session and that all browser searches are proxied through their own servers, meaning that there is no way to connect an IP address to a search. This means your identity is hidden. Epic also provides a fully encrypted connection and users can use its one-button proxying feature that makes quick private browsing easy, although it could slow down your browser.

Tor

This Firefox-based browser that runs on the Tor network can be used with Windows, Mac or Linux PCs. This browser is built on an entire infrastructure of ‘hidden’ relay servers, which means that you can use the internet with your IP and digital identity hidden. Unlike other browsers, Tor is built for privacy only, so it does lack certain security features such as built-in antivirus and anti-malware software.

Dooble

This stripped back Chromium-based browser offers great privacy potential but it may not be the first choice for everyone. Able to run on Windows, Linux and OS X, Dooble offers strict privacy features. It will disable insecure web-based interfaces such as Flash and Javascript, which will make some web pages harder to read. In addition, user content such as bookmarks and browsing history can be encrypted using various passphrases.

See here for a full list of our best secure browsers. 

Privacy search engines

It might seem a bit pointless to worry about a privacy search engine given that this is an inherent quality of the VPN services already discussed but a couple are worth looking out for. The advantage of this approach is that it is free and incredibly simple. Users simply start using a different search engine and aren’t required to buy or install anything.

DuckDuckGo

The best-known example of this is DuckDuckGo. What we like about DuckDuckGo is it protects searches by stopping 'search leakage' by default. This means visited sites will not know what other terms a user searched for and will not be sent a user’s IP address or browser user agent. It also offers an encrypted version that connects to the encrypted versions of major websites, preserving some privacy between the user and the site.

In addition, DuckDuckGo offers a neat password-protected 'cloud save' setting that makes it possible to create search policies and sync these across devices using the search engine.

Oscobo UK search

Launched in late 2015, Oscobo returns UK-specific search results by default (which DuckDuckGo will require a manual setting for). As with DuckDuckGo, the search results are based on Yahoo and Bing although the US outfit also has some of its own spidering. Beyond that, Oscobo does not record IP address or any other user data. According to its founders, no trace of searches made from a computer is left behind. It makes its money from sponsored search returns.

DNS nameservers

Techworld's sister title Computerworld UK recently covered the issue of alternative DNS nameservers, including Norton ConnecSafe, OpenDNS, Comodo Secure DNS, DNS.Watch, VeriSign and, of course, Google.

However, as with any DNS nameserver, there are also privacy concerns because the growing number of free services are really being driven by data gathering. The only way to bypass nameservers completely is to use a VPN provider’s infrastructure. The point of even mentioning them is that using an alternative might be faster than the ISP but come at the expense of less privacy.

DNS.Watch

Available on 84.200.69.80 and 84.200.70.40, DNS.Watch is unique in offering an alternative DNS service without the website logging found on almost every rival. We quote: “We're not interested in shady deals with your data. You own it. We're not a big corporation and don't have to participate in shady deals. We're not running any ad network or anything else where your DNS queries could be of interest for us.”

OpenDNS

Now part of Cisco, the primary is 208.67.220.220 with a backup on 208.67.222.222. Home users can simply adjust their DNS to point at one of the above but OpenDNS also offers the service wrapped up in three further tiers of service, Family Shield, Home, and VIP Home. Each comes with varying levels of filtering and security, parental control and anti-phishing protection.

Privacy utilities

Abine Blur

Blur is an all-in-one desktop and mobile privacy tool that offers a range of privacy features with some adblocking thrown in for good measure. Available in free and Premium versions ($39 a year) on Firefox and Chrome only, principle features include:

- Masked cards: a way of entering a real credit card into the Blur database which then pays merchants without revealing those details. 

- Passwords: similar in operation to password managers such as LastPass and Dashlane without some of the layers of security and sophistication that come with those platforms. When signing up for or encountering a new site Blur offers to save or create a new strong password.

Masked email addresses are another feature, identical in principle to the aliases that can be used with webmail systems such as Gmail.  Bur’s management of these is a bit more involved and we’d question whether it’s worth it to be honest were it not for the single advantage of completely hiding the destination address, including the domain. Some will value this masking as well as the ease of turning addresses on and off and creating new ones. On a Premium subscription, it is also possible to set up more than one destination address.

- Adblocking: with the browser extension installed, Blur will block ad tracking systems without the conflict of interest are inherent in the Acceptable Ads program used by AdBlock Plus and a number of others.  We didn’t test this feature across many sites but it can be easily turned on and off from the toolbar.

- Two-factor authentication: Given the amount of data users are storing in Blur, using two-factor authentication (2FA) is an absolute must. This can be set up using a mobile app such as Google Authenticator, Authy or FreeOTP.

- Backup and Sync:  Another premium feature, this will sync account data across multiple devices in an encrypted state.

- Masked phone: probably only useful in the US where intrusive telemarketing is a problem, this gives users a second phone number to hand to marketers.  Only works in named countries including the UK. Only on Premium.

Overall, Blur represents a lot of features in one desktop/mobile browser extension. Limitations? Not terribly well explained in places and getting the best out of it requires a Premium subscription. Although the tools are well integrated and thought out most of them can be found for less (e.g. LastPass) or free (e.g. adblocking) elsewhere.  The features that can’t are masked phone and masked card numbers/addresses.

Source : This article was published in techworld.com By John E Dunn

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Google is undeniably king of the search engine world, but other engines are worth talking about, especially when it comes to privacy. In the second in a series of blog posts reviewing alternative search engines, I find out more about DuckDuckGo.

Following the review of Ecosia in celebration of Earth Day, the next search engine I’m reviewing is DuckDuckGo, so get your disguise on as we’re going incognito. No, literally. This search engine sells itself on its tight privacy controls. With the roll out of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in May 2018, privacy is a subject being discussed more and more, and the conversations could lead to consumers becoming more aware of their privacy and data protection rights.

What’s it all about then?

DuckDuckGo vs Google - Dog HidingDuckDuckGo states it will not track your IP address or user agent when you’re searching, nor does it share or collect any personally identifiable information about its users. So if you are concerned about your data being collected, and sold on for marketing purposes, or even used for criminal activities – this might be the search engine for you.

The privacy limits extend to not tracking you, as you go in and out of private browsing mode. You’re staying under the radar. Don’t you worry.

Duck, duck, wild goose chase – how is the search functionality?

You can adjust the settings, much like other search engines, to filter the results you see. You may choose seeing results that are safe, moderate, or no holds barred, to customise it to your preferences. You can further refine results by selecting your country, and by allowing content from a certain time period to appear.

DuckDuckGo vs Google - SERPs - Browser Media

It is interesting to see that the only exact replication of results is where Browser Media sits, nicely in position two. The results are different, but both SERPS are serving helpful results, except both engines did return non-UK businesses on page one – Google returned a Denver based business and DuckDuckGo served up a Delhi and Brisbane based business, as well as the same Denver business:

DuckDuckGo vs Google - SERPs 2 - Browser Media

Because your IP address is not being tracked, no specific location criteria are used in the searches via DuckDuckGo. This means you may not find the coffee shop around the corner, unless you specify where you are looking for said coffee shop within your search query.

Additionally, search history is not taken into account. So, whilst it feels much less creepy than other engines, it also won’t be so tailored to your searching habits. You will see the same page of results as the next person using DuckDuckGo when entering identical search terms.

I’ve been digging around a bit to find out what people think of the results DuckDuckGo returns, and it is a fairly mixed response.

DuckDuckGo vs Google - review - browser media

via sitejabber.com

One comment referred to DuckDuckGo changing the search titles and returning incoherent results. So instead of returning pages showing the price of gold, when the user typed in GLD (the investment symbol for gold), the search title was changed to God.

Other comments referred to small irritations when getting the results back. For example, not listing the number of results found, so the searcher is not helped in regards to whether their search should be expanded or filtered differently. As well, complaints have been made about the engine hijacking results when a user tried to use a different engine. Further to this, ‘apparently’ the engine became incredibly tricky to get rid of, not showing up in the program or app lists on desktops and devices.

On the flipside, the review site has many comments defending DDG, with users stating that they found the results to be appropriate, and it was just a case of learning how to use the engine better. I would tend to agree, queries may simply need a word or two added to serve up better results.

DuckDuckGo vs Google - review 2 - browser media

via sitejabber.com

There was also the usual amount of conspiracy theory talk – suggesting that certain search engines are paying folk to write false negative reviews. Such cynics…

How are they doing?

DuckDuckGo vs Google - number of search queries - browser media

via duckduckgo.com/traffic.html

It is hard to gauge how many users DuckDuckGo has since it does not track personal information…

…but we do know that it received over 16.2 million search queries on Monday 24 April.

Therefore, using some pretty basic maths, I have deduced that DuckDuckGo had 188 searches per second on average that day:

16,249,713 ÷ 86,400 (number of seconds in 24 hours) = 188.08

In comparison, Google averages 40,000 enquiries per second.

DuckDuckGo is placed next to Google Hungary, Croatia, and Nepal in the percentage market share tables – and just below Ask that has 0.14% share.

DuckDuckGo vs Google - DuckDuckGo's marketshare - browser media

via netmarketshare.com

DuckDuckGo vs Google - devices - browser media

Quack to the future – what impact could DuckDuckGo have on marketers?

Data from Google Analytics about DuckDuckGo will not particularly benefit marketers since no useful visitor information is tracked. It means you can’t mark your target audience based on age, gender, nor location, for example.

In addition, the engine is reported as referral traffic, rather than organic, which can be misleading when analysing traffic, but can be changed with an advanced segment. A rule is required to instruct Google Analytics that each time DuckDuckGo is seen as referral traffic, to change the medium to organic. For more on advanced segments, read Libby’s blog post on the subject. For further details specifically about the issue described above, this piece should help.

If you’re interested in paid search, bear in mind that they don’t do remarketing ads. Sponsored ads, much like all of the other engines, will appear at the top of the SERP. However, due to the audience seeing the ads being an unknown, how can anyone be sure the ads are being seen by the right audience? It seems a bit pot luck for my liking.

Although, with the GDPR roll out next year, perhaps this engine is wise not to be keeping records on its users. And if, as a consumer, you’re concerned about your privacy when browsing the internet, and do not want to be tracked when carrying out searches, this engine is the one for you.

This article was published in browsermedia.co.uk

Categorized in Search Engine

Getting a new job, recovering from an abusive relationship, engaging in new kinds of activism, moving to a different countrythese are all examples of reasons one might decide to start using Facebook in a more private way. While it is relatively straightforward to change your social media use moving forward, it can be more complicated to adjust all the posts, photos, and videos you may have accumulated on your profile in the past. Individually changing the privacy settings for everything you have posted in the past can be impractical, particularly for very active users or those who have been using Facebook for a long time.

The good news is that Facebook offers a one-click privacy setting to retroactively change all your past posts to be visible to your friends only. With this tool, content on your timeline that you’ve shared to be visible to Friends of Friends or Public will change to be visible by Friends only. And the change will be “sticky”it cannot be reversed in one click, and would be very difficult to accidentally undo.

Watch this video for a step-by-step tutorial to change this setting and make your posts more private.

Privacy info. This embed will serve content from youtube.com

Keep in mind that, if you tagged someone else in a past post, that post will still be visible to them and to whatever audience they include in posts they are tagged in. And, if you shared a past post with a “custom” audience (like “Friends Except Acquaintances” or “Close Friends”), this setting won’t apply

Finally, this setting can only change the audience for posts that you have shared. When others tag you in their posts, then they control the audience. So share this blog post and video with your friends and encourage them to change their settings, because privacy works best when we work together.

Source : eff.org

Categorized in Internet Privacy

When Gabriel Weinberg became sick of Google search results and being tracked everywhere he went online, he took action. The developer created add-ons to limit his personal information being collected, and this small list evolved into the increasingly popular anonymous search engine DuckDuckGo.

Almost seven years after founding the company, DuckDuckGo has become a staple search engine for the privacy-conscious. In January, Weinberg and his now 35-person strong team, announced DuckDuckGo had provided answers to more than ten billion search queries. These numbers are nowhere near those celebrated by Google, Bing, or Yahoo; Google alone has 3.5 billion searches a day, but the 38-year-old has ambitions to grow beyond search. "We've had a very narrow focus for the life of the company because it has been hard to get the product to where it needs to be," Weinbergtold WIRED.

"We're thinking of what else we can do to expand the proposition and give people more of a holistic privacy solution. We haven't made any total move but it's where we're heading; we're thinking more generally how can we do more to protect your privacy when you're browsing around the web."

DuckDuckGo was founded by internet entrepreneur Gabriel Weinberg in 2008 as a privacy-focussed alternative to Google

DuckDuckGo

Weinberg didn't elaborate on any specific products or services, but said it "probably won't" be email. The development may, instead, be closer to a web browsingexperience. "Like when you click off the search engine and you're taken to somewhere else on the web," he explained. "If we can make that experience more private for you, that's what we're thinking of".

The rise of DuckDuck go has been slow, or "steady", as Weinberg describes it. He admits one of the dominant challenges for the firm is marketing itself in a populist way. In 2011, Weinberg purchased a billboard for $7,000 (£5,600)pointing out the company, unlike Google, does not track those who use its search functions.

Despite difficulties in getting the firm widely known, DuckDuckGo has seen a number of mainstream successes: Apple included it as a default search option with iOS 8 in Safari in September 2014, Mozilla followed suit, including DuckDuckGo in Firefox in November of the same year. It also exists on Tor.

For now, Weinberg says development will continue on the core search features of DuckDuckGo. Like Google, the service tries to provide instant answers to your questions. If you're looking for a local cinema the firms will try to show the number and opening times; if you're searching for who was the UK prime minister in 1973 they will try to tell you.

"When you're looking for more things like breaking news or a phone number for a restaurant, especially internationally, we're making that experience better for users," he continued.

The entrepreneur expects the popularity of anonymous search to continue to grow and says he is worried about online surveillance laws around the world, including the UK's Investigatory Powers Act. Unsurprisingly, for the creator of a privacy-enhancing website, he says laws around the world are "unsettling".

"For the majority of people, I think they're just looking for simple ways to be tracked less online".

Source : wired.co.uk

Categorized in Search Engine

Every time you use a search engine to look something up on the Internet personally identifiable information will be collected by all major search engines. The search terms submitted to the search engine, as well as the time, date, and geographical location of the computer carrying out the search will be logged and stored.The search words you enter are often stored within search boxes in your browser, your computer will normally cache those words and pages you visit, your searched for terms can be retrieved by anyone with access to the hard disk.Do you really want search engines like Google or Bing to know everything you search for on the internet?

What information do search engines keep?

1) IP Address: Your personal computer IP address can be traced back to you through a reverse DNS lookup with tools finding out not only your ISP but also your approximate location such as State or Province.

2) Date & Time: The exact date and time you were searching for a certain keyword will be logged. The browser you use is normally also stored in search engines logs.

3) Query Terms: The terms your searched for will be stored.

4) Cookie ID: A unique code is embedded into the cookie and assigned to a particular computer by the search engine. It allows a search engine to learn if requests came from a particular computer, as long as that identifiable cookie is still stored in the browser Internet searches can be linked and traced back to you independently of what computer IP you use.

Notice that after some pressure from privacy groups some major search engines have begun to mask the computer user IP address on their search logs but this does not make your search history anonymous.

What information do search engines send to webmasters?

After you click on one of the results given by the search engine, your search terms are passed to the website server logs, that webmaster will know what search terms you used to find that site, the referring URL and your IP address, as well as other data like your Internet browser and operating system you are using and even your default browser language, all of this can help to identify you.

Google maps searchGoogle maps search

Privacy search engine Duck Duck GoYour web browser automatically sends information about your user agent and IP address to the search engine but Duck Duck Go will not store it at all. This information could be used to link you to your searches and other search engines will use it to show you more targeted advertising. Duck Duck Go will go out of its way to delete that data.

At Duck Duck Go no cookies are used by default and they do not work with any affiliate program that will share personally identifiable information like name and address. Feedback at Duck Duck Go can also be given anonymous not having to enter an email address in the form (it can be left blank). This privacy search engine also allows searching via its SSL website and lots of customization options.

Duck Duck Go pulls results from Microsoft’s Bing and Google search APIs, a lot of what you’re getting are results you could find on those search engines with the added advantage that your personal privacy is respected while searching the Internet. Duck Duck Go also has its own web crawler and web index.https://www.duckduckgo.com

Duck Duck Go no logs search engineDuck Duck Go no logs search engine

Privacy search engine IxQuick & Startpage IxQuick was awarded the first European Privacy Seal, IxQuick privacy search engine will not record your IP address, other data like the search queries are deleted from the log files within a maximum of 48 hours, often sooner.

IxQuick uses the POST method to keep your search terms out of the logs of webmasters of sites that you reach from their results, the major search engines on the other hand, use the GET method which allows web servers to log what search terms you used to reach them.

You can use encrypted Secure Socket Layer (SSL) connections to carry out your search stopping your ISP from snooping on you, this is of vital importance if you are using a public computer in an internet cafe, library or at work where the network administrator can easily spy on your search terms.IxQuick uses a single anonymous cookie to remember the search preferences you saved for your next visit, it will not use cookies with a unique ID like many other websites do.IxQuick also allows for advanced syntax search and being a Metasearcher, it pulls some of it results from other major search engines like Bing, Ask or the Open Directory.

IxQuick also lets you visit the chosen page with a built in proxy,  the webmaster server logs will only see/log IxQuick IP address and not yours.

I tested IxQuick search proxy on my server and it also spoofs your agent ID and operating system, identifying itself as Google Chrome and Windows 7, this is a good practice as it makes even more difficult to pin you down.

The Dutch IP IxQuick search proxy gives once reversed identified itself as Webhosting customers, making it obvious it is not an ISP but a hosted proxy, the URL entry was presented as blank in the server logs, overall, their proxy for searching in privacy does a good job at keeping your privacy online.https://www.ixquick.com or https://www.startpage.com

IxQuick privacy search engineIxQuick privacy search engine

 Search engine Blippex This search engine claims that it was built with privacy in mind, results are passed P2P without a central server and your computer IP, browser user agent string and referral page are not stored.

Your connection to the site is encrypted with TLS and the company is very detailed and clear about what information they collect about you.

Users can help out Blippex installing a browser extension that improves search results for other people based on how long you dwell on a site, the data is collected anonymously and it is not necessary to have the addon installed to search Blippex, it is just an extra for those who want to contribute create a search engine based on how popular a page is with people, results that are not viewed in 90 days are deleted.

Blippex privacy standards far surpass those of Google and Yahoo, the search engines does not show advertisements or sells user’s data, to fund development some results for commercial products might have an affiliate code embedded so that Blippex can earn a commission. https://www.blippex.com

privacy search engine Blippexprivacy search engine Blippex

 Usenet search engine BinSearch This is not an anonymous Internet searcher but it is included on the list because it carries results that nobody else does. BinSearch specialises in crawling binary Usenet newsgroups results that are ignored by all major search engines. You can search for Usenet posts subject, filenames or.nfo and limit your search to certain newsgroup or timeframe.

Due to the huge amount of data that Usenet carries, results are refreshed every few weeks and old ones dropped, Binsearch crawls thousands of groups but it is not possible to index all of them, only the major newsgroups.http://www.binsearch.info

BinSearch binaries Unsenet search engineBinSearch binaries Unsenet search engine

 Disconnect.me searchA desktop and mobile phone app to search the Internet with privacy, it can be accessed using a website too without the need to install anything. Disconnect.me resorts to major search engines for your results, like Google and Bing, but it hides your computer IP when you perform a search, Disconnect has its own proxy server and it forwards search terms so that your own IP is never connected to those words.

Disconnect has deployed secure TLS to stop others from eavesdropping on the search terms you enter. You can use this search interface to anonymously search for words, images, news or videos, a drop down menu lets you select what country you would like to search from, different results are given depending on the virtual location you choose, a useful utility for SEO professionals to look at search results from different locations without being there.https://search.disconnect.me

Private search engine Disconnect.mePrivate search engine Disconnect.me

Tips to search the Internet with privacyDo not accept any of the major search engines cookies, they might use them to identify you later on, if you already have a Google or Bing search engine cookie on your computer, delete them.

Do not sign up for email at the same search engine where you regularly search, your personal email address can potentially be tied up to your search terms. Using Google and Gmail (both Google products) or Bing and Hotmail (both Microsoft products) together is not a good idea.

Mix up a variety of search engines, this will spread all of your searched terms across different companies and servers. Varying the physical location you search from can also be helpful, you can use a VPN or proxy to change your computer and country IP and delete all of your search engine cookies before starting a new private searching session.

Source : hacker10.com

Categorized in Search Engine

(Reuters) - The vote by the U.S. Congress to repeal rules that limit how internet service providers can use customer data has generated renewed interest in an old internet technology: virtual private networks, or VPNs.

VPNs cloak a customer's web-surfing history by making an encrypted connection to a private server, which then searches the Web on the customer's behalf without revealing the destination addresses. VPNs are often used to connect to a secure business network, or in countries such as China and Turkey to bypass government restrictions on Web surfing.

Privacy-conscious techies are now talking of using VPNs as a matter of course to guard against broadband providers collecting data about which internet sites and services they are using.

"Time to start using a VPN at home," Vijaya Gadde‏, general counsel of Twitter Inc, said in a tweet on Tuesday that was retweeted by Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey.

Gadde was not immediately available for comment. Twitter said she was commenting in her personal capacity and not on behalf of the company.

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives voted 215-205 on Tuesday to repeal rules adopted last year by the Federal Communications Commission under then-President Barack Obama to require broadband providers to obtain consumer consent before using their data for advertising or marketing.

The U.S. Senate, also controlled by Republicans, voted 50-48 last week to reverse the rules. The White House said President Donald Trump supported the repeal measure.

Supporters of the repeal said the FCC unfairly required internet service providers like AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc to do more to protect customers' privacy than websites like Alphabet Inc's Google or Facebook Inc.

Critics said the repeal would weaken consumers' privacy protections.

VPN ADVANTAGES, DRAWBACKS

Protected data includes a customer's web-browsing history, which in turn can be used to discover other types of information, including health and financial data.

Some smaller broadband providers are now seizing on privacy as a competitive advantage. Sonic, a California-based broadband provider, offers a free VPN service to its customers so they can connect to its network when they are not home. That ensures that when Sonic users log on to wi-fi at a coffee shop or hotel, for example, their data is not collected by that establishment's broadband provider.

"We see VPN as being important for our customers when they're not on our network. They can take it with them on the road," CEO Dane Jasper said.

In many areas of the country, there is no option to choose an independent broadband provider and consumers will have to pay for a VPN service to shield their browsing habits.

Private Internet Access, a VPN provider, took a visible stand against the repeal measure when it bought a full-page ad in the New York Times on Sunday. But the company, which boasts about a million subscribers, potentially stands to benefit from the legislation, acknowledged marketing director Caleb Chen.

VPNs have drawbacks. They funnel all user traffic through one point, so they are an attractive target for hackers and spies. The biggest obstacle to their routine use as a privacy safeguard is that they can be too much of a hassle to set up for many customers. They also cost money.

"The further along toward being a computer scientist you have to be to use a VPN, the smaller a portion of the population we're talking about that can use it," said Ernesto Falcon, a legislative counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which opposed the bill.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis and David Ingram in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Peter Cooney).

Author : Stephen Nellis and David Ingram

Source : metro.us

Categorized in Internet Privacy
Recently, an internet privacy joint resolution (S.J. Res. 34), passed the U.S. Senate, with the support of Sen. Orrin Hatch. This resolution seeks to gut the FCC privacy protections that every U.S. internet user currently has. It would allow an Internet Service Provider ("ISP") to search your browsing habits, then target advertisements to you based on what things you search for and what websites you visit.Allowing ISPs to search your internet history and sell it to advertisers is a tremendous infringement on our privacy. When going online on your personal mobile phone or in the privacy of your own home, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, especially given that most people pay for their internet service. Your browsing history and online habits are more revealing than any other form of media or communication. It is an insight into your deepest thoughts and your largest fears. In essence, it is a glimpse into a part of your soul that makes you who you are.
 
 
This is why ISPs are aggressively pressuring our politicians to grant them access to our inner most selves. S.J. Res. 34 would allow them to sell it to the highest bidder. It now goes to the U.S. House. Please contact your representative to express your desire to keep your online activities private by asking them oppose this resolution.
Jeremy H. Smith
Wanship
Categorized in Internet Privacy

What's the best web browser for Windows? Find out with our in-depth testing.

The web browser is one of, if not the, most-used applications on your computer. Where once Internet Explorer was synonymous with the web, now many people just fire up Chrome without a second thought.

But why should Google enjoy a monopoly on such an important program? There are plenty of alternatives, all of which bring their own innovations to help you make the most of your time online. We test the top six browsers to help you decide which is best for the way you surf the web.

We've tested them for performance using both real-world and benchmarking tests, battery consumption using Netflix. We've also evaluated their privacy features and extra goodies so you can easily choose for yourself which is the best for you. Let's get started.

Best web browser 1

6 / 6

OUR SCORE:

MICROSOFT EDGE

Key features:
  • Low power consumption
  • Cortana integration
  • Web notes
  • Good performance
  • Sync is half-baked
The days when Microsoft’s browsers ruled the roost are long gone. Despite Windows 10 now being installed on nearly a quarter of computers worldwide, only 5% of users prefer Edge – the default Windows 10 browser. 

We have to admit that, faced with a fresh Windows 10 installation, the first thing we normally do is load up Edge and use it to install Chrome. This is a little hasty, since Edge actually has plenty to offer. 

INTERFACE

Edge’s interface is clean to the point of being bland. The only hint of colour comes from the favicons on the left of each tab: everything else is just two shades of grey. The rest of the design is browser business as usual, with tabs on the top, then toolbar and optional bookmarks bar. The Home button is off by default, but can be enabled in Settings. 

One thing that may immediately annoy is the lack of a title bar for the Edge window. This means that if you want to drag an Edge window around your desktop, you need to use the blank bit on the right of the tabs bar, which isn’t always convenient. 

STARTUP PAGE

You have four options for what loads when you start the browser: your previous session, a web page you specify, the Start page, or the New Tab page. The Start page is in danger of being a huge time-sink. 

Along with a search box at the top and a weather, sports and stock market sidebar, the page contains a newsfeed of stories from various publications, from the Mirror to Cosmopolitan to Autocar. It’s definitely a cut above your usual clickbait, and it’s easy to get sucked into: we went from a story about Debra Messing to reading about Alfonso Arau to watching Three Amigos clips on YouTube. There's also some horrible sponsored content links that feel a little out of place.

By default, the search box uses Bing. It isn’t immediately obvious how to change this. First, you go into Settings and Advanced, and scroll most of the way to the bottom to find the Change Search Engine box. If you’ve only just started using Edge, you won’t see any search engines to change to, or any way to add your own. You first need to visit the homepage of the search engine you want to add, which will make it mysteriously appear in Edge’s Settings marked as “discovered”.

Adding a search engine in other web browsers can be a confusing process, so we actually welcomed how simple it was to do in Edge – once we’d worked out how. It’s a shame there’s no way to temporarily change search engine using a drop-down menu, however.

NEW TAB PAGE

The only difference between the Startup and New Tab pages is that New Tab has a Top Sites section. This has thumbnails for some sponsored content, such as the Windows Store and Amazon, but will chiefly fill up with your most-visited sites. If a website (Facebook or Netflix, for example) has its own Windows 10 app, an Install app link will appear under that site, which you may find useful.

There’s no way to change what the New Tab page does, and no extensions available to change its behaviour, either – if you like your new tabs to go straight to a homepage, you’re out of luck. You can at least customise the page, selecting from six areas of interest to customise your newsfeed, or turn off the feed and the weather, sports or stock market sidebars entirely.

TAB HANDLING

Edge’s tabs worked as we expected. They’re dead square for space efficiency, and we particularly liked the dropdown thumbnails that appear as you hover over each tab. There’s no option to bookmark all open tabs and save them to a Bookmarks folder, which is something we’re used to seeing. The New Tab page opens instantly and is ready for your searches straight away, and there’s no hesitation when flicking between open tabs. 

BOOKMARKS AND HISTORY

Apart from the lack of a “bookmark all open tabs” option (see above), we like the way Edge deals with your bookmarks. Clicking the star button provides a dropdown menu with the option to add the bookmark to one of your Favourites folders or your Reading List. The Reading List is like a Bookmarks folder, but provides a thumbnail and a short description of the page, so you can see which entry is which at a glance.

You access your bookmarks using a tabbed sidebar that also contains your history and downloads. Bookmarks are arranged in collapsible trees, which is neat, but there’s no option to open an entire folder at once in separate tabs. Likewise, the History sidebar’s collapsible tree view is easy to use, but there’s no way to add a page from your history to your bookmarks directly – another missed opportunity. We do like the option to delete all pages from a particular subdomain, though.

CORTANA AND WEB NOTES

As you’d expect, Microsoft is keen to use Edge to point you towards its other services, as is Google – if you visit its web pages using Edge, they nag you to install Chrome, which doesn’t happen with Opera, Firefox or Vivaldi. If you select a word on a web page and right-click, there’s no option to search for that word with your current search engine – you can only “Ask Cortana” (or Bing if you’ve disabled Cortana). 

Cortana does come up with some interesting info, but you may prefer to use Google or DuckDuckGo for your searches – you should be given the choice. Another feature we feel is too Microsoft-orientated is Web Notes. These could be fantastic: scribble all over a web page, highlight things, make notes, then send to others to look at. However, the recipient won’t receive your annotations on a live web page. Instead, when you click the “share” button you receive only a screenshot of the annotated web page, which you can send using Windows’ official Mail or Twitter clients, or store with Cortana Reminders or OneNote. 

There’s no way to send the Web Note with a program of your choosing (such as your own email client), save it to Dropbox, or use another Notes application such as Evernote – even if you install the official Microsoft Evernote app. It’s a limited feature that you may find useful only occasionally. 

READING VIEW

Next to the Favourites button is one for Reading View. After a page has loaded, you can click this to strip out all adverts and page furniture, leaving you with an easy-to-read body of text and pictures. It’s a great way to make web news stories more pleasant to read, while still making sure the page gets some revenue from adverts. However, it only works on a limited number of pages (such as those in your newsfeed). On sites such as BBC News and The Guardian, the icon is simple greyed out and listed as “unavailable”. 

SYNC

Most major browsers have a built-in synchronisation service; you sign up for a Google/Firefox/Opera account and your history, open tabs, favourites, passwords and so on will remain synchronised between browsers on different machines. Edge has a sync service, but will only sync your Favourites and Reading List; and, crucially, only if you’re signed into Windows 10 with a Microsoft account. 

You may prefer to have a local account for Windows, so no sync for you. We’d rather you could sign into a Microsoft account just for Edge.

Best web browser 4

PERFORMANCE

Edge feels like a seriously quick browser. Although its time of 5 seconds to load www.trustedreviews.com is one of the longest we measured – and identical to Firefox – it has the smoothest scrolling of any browser we’ve used, which makes browsing around web pages a pleasure. Its MotionMark graphics and Speedometer web application benchmark scores of 193.42 and 47.99 are below average, but 225.56 in the JetStream JavaScript benchmark is a huge score. 

Edge feels fast, but its benchmark performance is a mixed bag. It’s also a memory hog, requiring nearly 1.4GB of RAM with our six test tabs open – 500MB to 900MB more than the competition. It’s easy on your laptop’s battery, though: one hour of Netflix used 23% of battery, compared to between 26% and 32% for the competition. 

EXTENSIONS

Extensions are only a recent addition to Edge, and there are very few: only 20 in the Microsoft Store at the time of writing, including several ad blockers, LastPass and the Pocket save-it-for-later tool. One extension, called Turn off the Lights (below), darkens the entire screen while you’re playing a video, with the exception of the video itself. It’s a cracking alternative to full-screen mode. 
Best web browser 3

VERDICT

There are many things to like about Edge. It feels fast, we love its super-smooth scrolling, and it’s generally easy to use. Microsoft needs to add some extra features to keep up with the competition, though, such as the ability to save all open tabs as a Bookmarks folder and then open that folder’s bookmarks all at once. The Sync function is also limited, and being restricted to Bing when right-clicking to search is annoying. If Microsoft would just loosen its grip a little, Edge could be great. For now, those after a no-nonsense browser should stick with Chrome.
Best web browser 2

5 / 6

OUR SCORE:

MOZILLA FIREFOX

Key features:
  • Detailed privacy settings
  • Customisable
  • A little slow
  • Relatively high battery usage
Ten years ago, Firefox was the browser to beat, dwarfing Google’s upstart Chrome. Now the picture is rather different: Chrome is dominant, and Firefox is slipping towards a mere 10% market share. 

Firefox is far from dead, though, and still has some tricks up its sleeve. It’s serious about privacy, with technology to stop companies tracking the pages you visit even if they ignore a “Do not track” request. It has a library of extensions to rival that of Chrome, and while it’s no Vivaldi, it’s still possible to customise the interface to a certain degree. 

INTERFACE

Nowadays, Firefox looks very much like Chrome: tabs at the top, a combined address and search bar, and an optional bookmarks bar. The interface is busier than Chrome’s, but as we discuss below, Chrome’s clean look can come at the cost of functionality. 

By default, there’s a home button and a dedicated search box – although we’re not quite sure why this separate search box is necessary. In Vivaldi, it’s a privacy feature; you can turn off search suggestions for the search box, so text you enter isn’t sent direct to the search provider’s servers before you even press enter. In Firefox, you can’t configure the address bar and search box separately – both either have search suggestions enabled or disabled. 

Fortunately, Firefox makes it easy to customise the interface and remove such clutter. By right-clicking on the toolbar and clicking Customize, you can drag and drop various interface elements around and add or remove shortcut icons to suit your way of working.  

Best web browser 5

The customisation is limited to which shortcut buttons you require, and whether you want them on the left or right of the address bar, but we still appreciate being able to add one-click buttons for History and Private Browsing, as well as the ability to remove the redundant search box mentioned above. Having History or Bookmarks on the toolbar also provides you with a much wider, easier-to-use menu than when you access them through Firefox’s main menu button. 

The customisation section is a good way to add the Firefox “Forget” button. This is another signature privacy feature: with a click Firefox will close all windows and tabs and delete your cookies and history from the past five minutes, two hours or 24 hours. Other browsers let you delete you history selectively, but not with a single click.

Best web browser 6

STARTUP AND TABS

By default Firefox opens with the Mozilla Firefox Start page, which has a Google search box and a selection of shortcut buttons to various program features. It isn’t particularly useful, but it’s easy to change. The New Tab page is simple but effective: it features a search box for whatever provider you have chosen in Settings, and thumbnails for your most-visited sites. 

We hunted high and low in Settings for a way to change what happens when you open a new tab, but to no avail. We eventually noticed the cog icon at the top-right of the New Tab page itself. This provides you with a choice of a blank page or a page with suggested sites, but an extension such as New Tab Homepage will sort that out. 

Right-clicking on a tab displays the usual close/mute/pin tab options, and you can save all open tabs to a specific Bookmarks folder. Firefox doesn’t have a menu to let you see at-a-glance which tabs you have open, but pressing Ctrl-tab flicks between the two most recently used tabs, and keeping the control key held down after you press the tab key brings up an Alt-tab-style thumbnail view of all open tabs.

BOOKMARKS AND HISTORY

On the whole, we like the way Firefox’s bookmarks and history work. Clicking the History button offers a dropdown menu with recently closed tabs, your most recent history and the useful option to restore the entire previous browser session. Clicking Show All History brings up a pop-up resizable window with all your visited web pages, and you can open them in new windows or tabs, or add history entries to your Bookmarks folders. 

You can also bring up a sidebar with your history arranged in a list, and it will stay open as you click through the entries trying to find the right page. It all works fine, but we wish Firefox used a less compressed font to make things easier to read. 

The Bookmarks button provides quick access to your bookmarks toolbar, and clicking Show All Bookmarks brings up a window that’s similar in look to the All History window – it isn’t pretty, but it works. There’s also a Bookmarks sidebar, with all your saved pages arranged in a tree format. 

PERFORMANCE

Unlike Chrome, Opera and Vivaldi, Firefox doesn’t use the Chromium project’s Blink engine. Instead, it uses Mozilla’s Gecko engine, and it just doesn’t feel quite as fast. It takes the browser 5 seconds to render www.trustedreviews.com, compared to 2.8 for Chrome and Opera, and Firefox lags behind Chrome, Edge, Opera and Vivaldi in the MotionMark graphics benchmark and JetStream JavaScript benchmark. It’s also the second-slowest browser we tested in the Speedometer web application test, behind Edge. 

These slow benchmark scores are reflected in general use. There’s a very slight delay when flicking between tabs, and things become rather jerky when you drag tabs to rearrange them. Scrolling through pages can sometimes feel like there’s something clogging up your mousewheel, too. It isn’t terrible, by any means, but if you’re used to the smoothness of Chrome and Opera then you may feel your browsing experience is compromised. 

We did notice that Firefox gradually became slower over time as we filled its history and loaded it up with bookmarks. This was fixed with the “Refresh Firefox” option in the about:support section, but we haven’t experienced such a slowdown with other browsers. 

Firefox consumed the most battery in an hour of Netflix streaming, eating up 32%. That's more than all the other browsers on test here.

EXTENSIONS

Firefox was the first browser to support extensions, and as you’d expect, there are plenty available. DownThemAll, to save multiple files from an HTTP server, is particularly useful, as is Textarea Cache, which automatically saves any text you enter in a textbox, in case your browser crashes. 

SYNC

Firefox isn’t behind with Sync, either. Once you’re signed in with a Firefox account, you can sync your tabs, bookmarks, passwords, history, extensions and settings between devices. You can also synchronise bookmarks and history with mobile devices. However, when tested this with an Android phone, we found that sync kept pausing, and we had to go into Settings | Accounts & Sync to kick-start it manually.

VERDICT

Firefox is a competent browser, with some great features such as the bookmarks and history sidebars, customisable toolbar and the Forget button. However, it’s one of the slowest browsers we’ve tested, and some aspects of the interface, while useful, could do with an overhaul to make them more attractive and easier to use. Apparently, there’s an improved rendering engine on the way, which should help matters. In the meantime, though, you should stick to Chrome for outright speed and Vivaldi for interface innovation.
Best web browser 4

4 / 6

OUR SCORE:

TOR

Key features:
  • Privacy focussed
  • Loaded with security features
  • Lots of add-ons
  • Relatively slow
  • Slows down connection speeds

When it comes to online anonymity, Tor is the real deal. The combination of a specially modified version of Firefox and a network of anonymous relays makes it extremely hard for anyone to identify you and the websites you visit. 

Instead of connecting you straight to a server on the internet, Tor wraps the data you send with multiple encryption layers, then bounces this data through a network of relays. Each relay decrypts an encryption layer to reveal the next relay in the chain, or Tor Circuit. The final relay decrypts your data and sends it to its destination – but since this relay doesn’t know where the original data came from, it's extremely hard for the destination server to learn anything about you, such as your IP address.

Tor isn’t perfect, and has been compromised in the past, but it's the best method we have to keep the websites we visit safe from prying eyes. 

INTERFACE

Tor is remarkably easy to use. It's a portable application, and the installer just unpacks the browser's files to a folder of your choosing. From there, just run the Start Tor Browser shortcut. When you first run Tor, you can choose whether you have a direct connection to the internet – such as at home – or whether you're behind some kind of firewall or proxy and will need to fiddle with some settings to connect. 
Best web browser 11

On our home broadband connection, the direct connection worked perfectly: Tor connected, and up popped the familiar shape of Firefox. The Tor Start page offers up a DuckDuckGo search box – DuckDuckGo being the search engine that prides itself on not tracking you. 

There are also some tips on staying anonymous. Using the Tor browser isn’t enough to stay safe from prying eyes; you should also avoid using applications that bypass the Tor network, such as torrent software, or plugins such as Flash that can be "manipulated into revealing your IP address". In addition, never open files downloaded through Tor – such as DOC and PDF – in external applications, since these can connect to external services outside the Tor network and reveal your IP address. 

After maximising the browser window, we were intrigued to see a warning message that this could identify us on the internet: the reason being that a maximised browser window can give away your monitor's resolution and so help build a fingerprint of your machine to help outside parties track you. Tor recommends you keep the application at its default windowed size to avoid this. Scary stuff.

Tor's Bookmarks work in the same manner as standard Firefox, but History is interesting, in that Tor doesn’t save it. As you'd expect for a privacy-focused browser, Tor is set to always be in Private Browsing mode, so it won’t save your history or accept any cookies. You can disable this in Settings easily enough, though. 

SECURITY ADD-ONS

There are a couple of Tor-specific additions to Firefox. The most obvious is the small onion icon on the left of the address bar. This gives you the relays your web connection has jumped through to reach the current site, their IP addresses and the countries in which they reside. An option to create a new Tor Circuit for your current site will connect you to a new selection of relays: we found this useful when we were being routed through Taiwan, for example, and the connection was very slow. There's also the nuclear option to choose a New Identity, which restarts the browser and provides a new Circuit at the same time. 

It's worth exploring Tor’s Security Settings option. This takes the form of a slider with Low, Medium and High security levels, with progressively more content blocked as you go up the scale. For example, Medium and High levels would even block some of the images on www.trustedreviews.com. The onion menu shows you what content has been blocked, and you can re-enable it as you wish: granting permission for a couple of video codecs let us play YouTube videos, for example. 

Aside from the Tor network itself, the Tor browser has a couple of add-ons to keep you safe. These are the NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere plugins. NoScript blocks JavaScript – and plenty of other technologies, such as Java – on any websites you don’t add to a whitelist. Many malicious websites use scripts to attack a visiting machine, so simply having scripts blocked by default is a good way to remain safe online. 

HTTPS Everywhere is an attempt to force all connections to websites to use the encrypted HTTPS protocol, to help prevent data passing between your computer and the site from being intercepted. Some sites default to unencrypted HTTP when you type their URL into your browser's address bar, or have pages full of links back to the unencrypted HTTP version of the site. HTTPS Everywhere finds those links and redirects to the secure version of the page automatically. 

Both are useful tools, but they’re also available for standard browsers: Chrome, Firefox and Opera for HTTPS Everywhere, and Firefox for NoScript. 

PERFORMANCE

As you'd expect from the way it works, Tor isn’t a fast browser. All that bouncing around the world takes its toll on download speeds. Using standard Firefox, speedtest.net reported our internet connection as 47Mbits/sec download and 7.2Mbits/sec upload, with a 9ms ping. With the Tor browser, we saw just 8.7Mbits/sec download and 1.9Mbits/sec upload speeds, with a 100ms ping. 

This would be fine for normal web surfing, but the connection speeds are erratic – some sites would just grind to a halt before loading CSS, leaving a bare skeleton of a page. In addition, some sites found the traffic profile created by Tor suspicious, asking you to fill in a CAPTCHA to check you're not a robot, or flat-out block you. For example, Google wouldn't let us search due to “unusual traffic” (although if you're using Tor for Google, you should rethink your privacy priorities). Netflix is also deeply suspicious, but this could be because it didn't know what content to offer us from one session to the next as we hopped around the globe.

This is the price you pay for unrivalled privacy, however – and you're unlikely to use Tor to do your Tesco shop. It's more likely to come into its own when you want to look up something that the authorities don’t want you to see, or if you want to visit a site that, for whatever reason may be banned in your country. Tor is invaluable in countries without the kind of internet freedoms we enjoy in the UK, where it's often the only way to get hold of news sources outside the grip of the government. 

VERDICT

In the way that it manages to do something complicated in a manner that’s both straightforward and transparent to the user, Tor is a triumph. There’s no better way to safeguard your privacy online, there are no VPNs or subscriptions to worry about, and no complicated configuration. A single 50MB download and you're safe from all but the most determined. 

Performance issues mean you'll still want to use a normal browser for most of your surfing, but keep that Tor shortcut handy; you never know who's watching.

Best web browser 3

3 / 6

OUR SCORE:

OPERA

Key features
  • Built-in free VPN
  • Modest extension library
  • Good performance
  • Sync service

Opera has always been a niche player in the browser market, but loyal users have appreciated its commitment to innovation. It was the first major web browser with tabs, for example – fancy going back to a pre-tabs browser now? Thought not. 

Its focus has changed recently, however. The latest versions no longer use Opera’s own rendering engine, instead relying on the Chromium project’s Blink engine, and it’s no longer possible to customise the browser’s interface. 

SPECIAL FEATURES

Opera may have lost some of its distinctiveness, but it’s still a modern-looking browser with an impressive interface and one killer feature: built-in VPN. This is incredibly easy to set up: just tick a box and you’ll connect to websites via a proxy server, which will help mask your location and IP address. 
Best web browser 10

You can choose whether you want to connect via a VPN in Canada, the US, Germany, Holland or Singapore, or choose an optimum server (Holland, in our case). The VPN let us look at the US versions of sites such as Netflix, as well as sites that are banned in the UK, and impressively didn’t slow down our connection speed at all. Opera doesn’t even set a bandwidth cap. It’s quite an extra. 

Opera also comes with a built-in ad blocker. You may not agree with ad blockers, but some people value their ability to speed up web page loading and protect from tracking. You enable the ad blocker by ticking a box in Settings, and can add sites that the ad blocker will ignore (in case they don’t load properly, or you’d rather not deprive them of revenue). 

INTERFACE

Opera has a clean and modern interface. All is where you’d expect to find it. Tabs are at the top, with a combined search and address bar, as well as an optional bookmarks bar. The address bar will return Google’s suggestions for web addresses and search terms as you enter text, but you can also turn on a dedicated search box. The dedicated box doesn’t offer suggestions – useful if you don’t want what you’re typing to be sent straight to Google’s servers as you type it. We’d have liked to be able to select a search engine directly from this box, rather than having to go into Settings to change all our search defaults. 

A couple of interface elements stand out. The first is that there’s no Home button, and no way to enable one. Browsers are moving away from Home buttons, but as heavy users of multiple Google services, we still find it useful to have a single, immutable button for the Google homepage. 

TAB HANDLING

Opera’s almost-square tabs are space-efficient, and inactivate tabs fade to a subtle grey, so it’s easy to see which is active. You have a few standard right-click options (clone tab, close all other tabs, and so on) but there are fewer ways to manipulate your tabs than in Vivaldi. The tabs menu on the right is neat, showing you all open as well as recently closed tabs, and hovering over an entry displays a large thumbnail of the web page. We wish Opera would also display a thumbnail when you hover over a tab on the tab bar, as is the case in Edge and Vivaldi. 

Where you’d expect to find a Home button, Opera has Speed Dial. This is a selection of most-used sites, with each presented as a designed card, rather than a thumbnail. This is prettier, if less useful. The Speed Dial is initially populated by a number of commercial sites such as Facebook, Amazon and eBay, but it takes little time to remove these. There are also a selection of Speed Dial suggestions, which are mainly based on your browsing history. You can even create folders to keep your Speed Dial organised.  

As in Vivaldi, your Speed Dial pages are treated as a Bookmarks folder, which makes it easier to move pages between folders and edit and delete them. You can also right-click on a tab and save all open tabs as a Speed Dial folder. 

If you’re going to use Opera, you’ll need to learn to love Speed Dial, since it’s the only choice you get when you open a new tab – unless you install an extension such as New Tab Start Page Pro. This isn’t a problem, since the sidebar makes Speed Dial a useful one-stop shop for everything you need to do within the browser. The sidebar provides access to your bookmarks manager, history, extensions, downloads and settings, so you’ll rarely need to use the application’s main menu. 

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We have few complaints about how the various sections are laid out: you can right-click and add items from your history to your bookmarks, but only one page at a time, and the Settings menu is clearer than that of Edge and Chrome, if still a little sprawling. The Bookmarks view is easy to navigate, with drag-and-drop animations helping you move bookmarks exactly where you want them. However, we’d like to see a list of all bookmarks in the tree view on the left, rather than just folders. 

One interesting aspect is the Personal news section. This aggregates stories from around the web, according to Opera’s “Top 50”, or news stories you pick from a catalogue. This is limited to a number of publications chosen by Opera, and includes many of the big names you’d expect: the Guardian, Economist and Telegraph, for example. It’s a fine way to keep tabs on what’s going on and allows you more control than the Edge browser’s newsfeed. 

EXTENSIONS

Opera has its own family of extensions, but the library is far smaller than that available for Chrome or Firefox. However, since Opera used Chromium project technology, it’s easy to add Chrome extensions, as long as you first install the handily-named 'Download Chrome Extension' extension. This even changes the install button on the official Chrome extension store from Add to Chrome to Add to Opera. Not all extensions will work, so you’ll need to deploy trial and error: animatedTabs wasn’t happy, for example, but Grammarly worked fine. 

PERFORMANCE

Opera feels quick. New tabs open instantly, and there’s no sign of the hesitation when flicking between tabs that we saw with Vivaldi. The browser acquitted itself well in our browser benchmarks, too. A score of 267.89 in the MotionMark graphics handling benchmark is second only to Chrome, and 68.65 in the Speedometer web application test is above average. 

The browser could render www.trustedreviews.com in just 2.8 seconds, making it just as fast as Chrome and far quicker than Firefox, Edge and Vivaldi. Scrolling around web pages is beautifully smooth, too. The only downside is that Opera uses a lot of RAM: 826MB with our selection of six tabs open, making this the biggest memory hog we’ve seen apart from Edge. 

Opera also has a special Battery Saver mode. With this enabled, an hour of Netflix watching used 26% of our test laptop’s battery, compared to 28% with the mode disabled – this is such a small difference that we’re tempted to put it down to statistical variation. 

SYNC

Opera has its own Sync service. You need to create an Opera account and password, and all or any of your bookmarks, settings, history, open tabs and passwords will be synced across all your devices, including smartphones. When you have multiple Opera-running devices synced, the Tabs menu gains an Other Devices sub-menu, with each device’s open tabs listed in its own section.

VERDICT

Opera may no longer be particularly customisable, and Vivaldi (founded by ex-Opera employees) has certainly stolen its crown for innovation, but it’s still a cleanly designed and fast browser. Opera does find itself caught between two stools: it has neither the outright speed of Chrome nor the power features of Vivaldi. However, if the VPN, ad blocker and newsfeed features appeal, it’s a fine alternative.
Best web browser 5

2 / 6

OUR SCORE:

VIVALDI

Key features:
  • Incredibly customisable
  • Tab stacking and tiling
  • Based on Chromium
  • Best for power users
  • A little slow

Vivaldi was created by former employees of Opera software and, similar to the Opera browser, is designed with customisation in mind. You can tweak this browser to work in a way that suits you, and it’s brimming with innovative features. 

INTERFACE

The Startup wizard rams the message home. It lets you choose your theme (Human is very Linux; Redmond very Microsoft), decide whether you want your tabs to go at the top, bottom, left or right, and choose a background picture for your Start page. It’s a useful introduction to just how many parts of Vivaldi’s interface you can tweak. You’re then pointed towards some introductory YouTube videos – the developers want to make sure you don’t miss out on unique features such as Tab Stacks. 

The Settings menu is colossal, but is logically organised with a search function. We like that the Settings window can remain open and any changes you make happen in real time to the main browser – it makes it easy to fiddle around with Vivaldi’s appearance. 

Vivaldi features are a couple of controls missing in most browsers: mouse gestures and Quick Commands. You can hold down the right mouse button and draw various patterns to perform functions such as opening and closing tabs, and going back and forth through your history. You can even draw your own patterns, although if you make one that’s already assigned to another feature, Vivaldi will tell you the pattern is in use, but not by what. 

We don't use mouse gestures, but there are doubtless many who would. We much preferred Quick Commands. You press F2 to bring up a search box that will look through your bookmarks and history, as well as program commands and settings, as you type. It’s a quick way to navigate all the information stored in your browser from a single place. 

TAB HANDLING

Vivaldi’s tab handling is one of its most impressive aspects. For a start, you don’t have to have tabs along the top. If you’d rather mimic the Windows start bar, then place it at the bottom. Want to take advantage of a widescreen monitor? Put it to the side. Having your tab bar at the left or right also gives you a useful thumbnail of each page. 

A movable tab bar is only the beginning. Move one tab onto another and Vivaldi will group them together to form a Tab Stack. Hovering the mouse over the Stack shows you thumbnails of all the pages it contains, so you can choose the one you want. You can also Ctrl-click to select multiple tabs, then right-click and add them to a Tab Stack. 

A particularly useful feature is Stack Tabs by Host, so if you have multiple pages from www.trustedreviews.com open, you can make a Tab Stack with a single click. Oddly, this wouldn’t work with Google sites, and we wish clicking on the Tab Stack would bring up the thumbnails – it would feel more natural than just hovering over the top. 

Right-clicking on a tab, multiple tabs or a Tab Stack provides brings up a number of useful options. You can move a tab or a Stack to a new window if your tab bar is getting overwhelming. You can bookmark a single tab, all open tabs or a Tab Stack, and multiple tabs will be given their own folder stamped with the time the bookmarks were created. 

Best of all, you can tile tabs within a single browser window. It’s great for multi-tasking – when you have a couple of websites open and are typing into a Google Doc, for example – and, once again, is a great way to take advantage of a widescreen or ultra-widescreen monitor. We wish there was a way to resize the tiles, however. 

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There’s one last feature we found particularly useful: the tab trash can. Click this icon and you’ll see all the tabs you’ve had open previously, so you can restore them with a click – and the browser will even remember your tabs after a restart.

NEW TAB PAGE

You have plenty of options when it comes to new tabs: the Start page, your homepage, a blank page or a page you specify. Most browsers only offer the option of a blank page or a special New Tab page. Since we access so many different services, from email to documents to maps, from the Google homepage, we liked having that open automatically with every new tab. 

The Start page itself stands out. It’s split into Bookmarks, History and Speed Dial – similar to Bookmarks, but with thumbnails. You can create as many Speed Dial sections as you need; you can have a section for social media, news, shopping, messaging and anything else you can think of. 

Speed Dial doesn’t automatically fill up with your most-visited sites in the way that Chrome’s New Tab page does, but it does provide suggestions for Speed Dial entries based on your browsing history. You can also turn a Bookmarks folder into a Speed Dial with a click. 

ADDRESS BAR

As with all modern browsers, you can search from the address bar, and as long as you enable the option, you will receive suggestions to complete web addresses and search strings as you type. Those concerned about privacy may wish to disable this option, as it means data is sent to a search provider such as Google before you even press return. You can get around this by enabling a dedicated search box with suggestions disabled, so you can use this box instead when you’re concerned about privacy. 

One problem we had was that Vivaldi would return search suggestions when we had Bing set as the default search engine, but not Google. This is apparently a known bug. 

BOOKMARKS AND PANELS

The browser comes with a number of shopping bookmarks, which is presumably one of the ways in which the Vivaldi developers make money. It takes little time to remove them if you’re not interested. Adding a bookmark is easy with the button next to the address bar, or a right-click on a tab. You can also drag items from your history straight to a Bookmarks folder. 

You can either manage your bookmarks with the Start page, where a tree view makes it simple to create folders and move bookmarks around, or use the tree view in the Bookmarks Panel. The Panels live on the left or right of your monitor, depending on your preference, and there are sections for Bookmarks, Downloads, Notes and Web Panels. 

Bookmarks and Downloads work as you’d expect, but Notes and Web Panels are particularly interesting. As well as adding text, Notes lets you screenshot the current page or a portion of it to attach to the Note, and will automatically add the page’s URL to the note’s metadata. It’s a powerful and well-integrated feature, and the only thing missing is any kind of sync capability – but that’s apparently coming soon. 

Web Panels are a way to keep various web pages open in your browser as sidebars. It’s particularly useful for frequently updated sites that you flick to occasionally, such as a news site or Twitter. Any site can be a web panel, but some get confused about the device you’re using and ask you to install an app.  

EXTENSIONS

Vivaldi currently doesn’t have any native extensions, but since it’s based on the Chromium browser project, most Chromium extensions should work. It’s such a feature-packed browser that you shouldn’t really need too many add-ons. One extension we did need was the User Agent Switcher for Chrome (below). Without it, Netflix refused to play anything. Once I fooled the service into thinking I was using Chrome, everything was fine. 
Best web browser 13

PERFORMANCE

This is the one area where Vivaldi falls down, If only very slightly. Despite competitive scores in the MotionMark animation benchmark, Speedometer web app test and JetStream JavaScript benchmarks, it didn’t feel quite as smooth as Chrome or Edge when scrolling through web pages. There’s also a very slight pause when opening the Start page, especially if you have a background image turned on. However, memory usage with six web pages open was the lowest of any mainstream browser here, at just 524MB, so this is no resource hog overall. 

In the Netflix test, it consumed 28% battery in an hour, putting it firmly in the mid-table.

VERDICT

There’s no doubt Vivaldi is an excellent browser. There’s no need to hunt around for extensions: if you can think of a feature you need, it’s probably already there. The only thing currently missing is sync, but that’s on the way. Those with more modest requirements should stick with the super-fast Chrome, but if you’re a power user who deals with huge bookmark libraries and likes to keep plenty of tabs open, you’ll love it.
Best web browser

1 / 6

OUR SCORE:

GOOGLE CHROME

Key features:
  • Deeply integrated with Google services
  • Decent performance
  • Easy-to-manage site privacy controls
  • Loads of add-ons
  • Excellent sync
  • Slightly confusing interface
Since its launch in 2008, Chrome has grown to the point where nearly 60% of desktop users surf using Google’s browser. 

It’s easy to see why it’s so popular. At launch Chrome was a revelation, thanks to its clean interface and incredible performance. It’s had its ups and downs since, but Google has recently stripped out some of the bloat to make Chrome quick and intuitive once again. 

INTERFACE

The reason Chrome is the go-to browser for so many people is obvious: it’s just so easy to use. It loads quickly – start typing into the address/search box and results will appear instantly from your history, alongside Google’s own suggestions, to complete your web searches. These suggestions take the form of web addresses (type in www.gu and you’ll get suggestions for The Guardian, Gumtree and Guildford Council, for example) as well as search strings. In effect, you can be on a specific web page or have a page of Google results within moments of opening the browser. 

Of course, this is advantageous to Google as well as its users, since the company relies on collecting information. And it’s this very reason that causes many folk to worry about using. What you type into the address box is sent direct to Google before you’ve even pressed return, in order for the company to provide you with search suggestions. Unlike Opera and Vivaldi, there’s no option to have a dedicated search box with suggestions disabled; you have to disable suggestions entirely in the browser’s settings. 

There isn’t much else to Chrome – just tabs, address bar, navigation and bookmark buttons and a menu. There are plenty of hidden features, which bolsters the browser’s clean look but doesn’t always aid usability, as we’ll explain later. 

Best web browser 1

The browser does an excellent job of helping you manage your interaction with websites. Click the icon on the left of your current web address, and you can view information about the current site –whether your connection is encrypted and how many cookies are in use, for example. You can also choose whether you want to allow or deny technologies such as JavaScript or Flash, or let the site access your computer’s camera or microphone. It’s the easiest site security control we’ve seen. 

NEW TAB PAGE

You don’t get a Home button by default, but it’s easy to enable in Settings. We like to have a home button set to google.co.uk due to our reliance on multiple Google web apps – it’s simple to access these from the Google homepage. 

This being a Google browser, there are other ways to access Google’s services too. The first is with the Apps bookmark, which is set up on the Bookmarks Bar by default. This sends you to chrome://apps, and has large icons for the Web Store (for more apps and browser extensions), Google Drive, Gmail and YouTube, among others. The difference between apps and extensions is that extensions change or extend the way the web browser itself works; apps, on the other hand, are services or web programs you access through that browser. 

You can also access Google’s apps/services using the New Tab page. As with Opera, there’s no way to change what appears when you open a new tab, unless you use an extension such as New tab URL. A bar at the top of the New Tab page includes a menu for Google’s services, and if you’re signed in it will let you access your profile information. 

The New Tab page also consists of a Google search box and eight thumbnails for your most-used sites. This looks a little like Opera or Vivaldi’s Speed Dial, but without either’s level of customisation. The only thing you can do is delete sites from the page, rather than organise them in any particular fashion. 

TAB HANDLING

Chrome opens tabs instantly and flicks between them without hesitation. Everything about the browser performs with great alacrity. There’s nothing fancy about Chrome’s tab handling, but it’s slick and intuitive, whether you’re rearranging tabs or pulling them out to create new windows. Right-clicking a tab brings up standard options – such as pinning a tab (so it will survive a browser restart), duplicating or closing that tab or all other tabs – as well as the option to bookmark all open tabs and save them to a folder. 

Our only real niggle with Chrome’s tab handling is that pressing Ctrl-tab clicks through the tabs in order, rather than between the last-used tabs. This can be fixed using an extension such as CLUT (Cycle Last Used Tabs), but is an example of where the competition is pulling ahead. There’s also no tabs menu, where you can see a list of open tabs at a glance, or thumbnails when you hover over a tab. There is a least a list of recently closed tabs, hidden away in the History section of the main menu. 

HISTORY AND BOOKMARKS

This brings us to another gripe with Chrome: useful features are hidden away, with no effort made to integrate them with the main interface. You access both your history and bookmarks from awkward fly-out sub-menus in the application’s main menu. We’d recommend learning the keyboard shortcuts instead (Ctrl-H and Ctrl-Shift-O). 

We did find we missed the fancy ways other browsers have of making your history and bookmarks accessible. Chrome just opens them in a new tab, which is fine, but it isn’t a patch on Firefox’s pop-up history sidebar or Vivaldi and Opera’s Speed Dial. For bookmarks, we find Chrome works best if you enable the Bookmarks Bar and are fastidious about arranging bookmarks in folders. The Bookmarks Manager does make it simple to organise your bookmarks, thanks to a folder hierarchy view and drag-and-drop. Unfortunately, you can’t create a bookmark direct from your history. 

EXTENSIONS

Chrome has a huge library of extensions, so if there’s something about the browser’s behaviour you want to tweak, there’s probably an extension out there to make it happen. Again, there’s no easy way to access installed extensions; you need to go Menu|More tools|Extensions, then click the Get More Extensions link at the bottom. It makes them feel like a bit of an afterthought. 

SYNC

Chrome’s Sync uses your Google account, and is as comprehensive as you want it to be. You can choose to sync your installed apps, extensions, settings, themes, history, bookmarks and open tabs across devices, and even your passwords and autofill information (for web page address fields and so on). It’s useful to have this data synced, but think carefully about the possible consequences of having so much information shared between all your PCs and mobile devices – even if you do trust Google itself. 

PERFORMANCE

Chrome feels fast, and is fast. It came top of the MotionMark graphics benchmark with a huge 380.84, and was comfortably the fastest browser we tested in the Speedometer web application benchmark with 117.3. Its score of 184.36 in the JetStream JavaScript benchmark was beaten only by Microsoft Edge. It could render TrustedReviews.com in 2.8 seconds, so shares top honours with Opera. Its memory usage is average, at 704.5MB with our six test pages open.  

It consumed 26% of our test machine's battery in an hour of Netflix streaming, which isn't the worst but comes in behind Microsoft Edge.

VERDICT

Chrome remains an excellent browser. In the past, some versions have been sluggish or buggy, but the current edition (56, as tested) is fast and stable. Once you’re used to how quickly Chrome responds, other browsers can feel slow, even if there’s very little difference in reality. 

However, what Chrome has in speed it lacks in extra features, and its interface, while clean, hides many of its useful features away. We’d happily take a little more clutter for easier access to our bookmark manager and history, for example, or to have a more customisable New Tab page. If you’ve always used Chrome, it’s worth installing an alternative such as Vivaldi, Opera or Firefox, just to see what you might be missing. 

Author : Chris Finnamore

Source : http://www.trustedreviews.com/best-web-browser_round-up

Categorized in Internet Technology

Three stealthy tracking mechanisms designed to avoid weaknesses in browser cookies pose potential privacy risks to Internet users, a new research paper has concluded.

The methods—known as canvas fingerprinting, evercookies and cookie syncing—are in use across a range of popular websites. The findings, first reported by Pro Publica, show how such tracking is important for targeted advertising but that the privacy risks may be unknown to all but the most sophisticated web users.

Profiling Web users, such as knowing what Web pages a person has visited before, is a central component of targeted advertising, which matches advertisements with topics a person may be interested in. It is key to charging higher rates for advertisements.

Cookies, or data files stored by a browser, have long been used for tracking, but cookies can be easily blocked or deleted, which diminishes their usefulness.

The methods studied by the researchers are designed to enable more persistent tracking but raise questions over whether people are aware of how much data is being collected.

The researchers, from KU Lueven in Belgium and Princeton University, wrote in their paper that they hope the findings will lead to better defenses and increased accountability “for companies deploying exotic tracking techniques.”

“The tracking mechanisms we study are advanced in that they are hard to control, hard to detect and resilient to blocking or removing,” they wrote.

Although the tracking methods have been known about for some time, the researchers showed how the methods are increasingly being used on top-tier, highly trafficked websites.

Ads by Kiosked

One of the techniques, called canvas fingerprinting, involves using a Web browser’s canvas API to draw an invisible image and extract a “fingerprint” of a person’s computer.

It was thought canvas fingerprinting, first presented in a research paper in 2012, was not in use on websites. But it is now employed on more than 5,000 of the top 100,000 websites ranked by metrics company Alexa, according to the paper.

More than 95 percent of those canvas fingerprinting scripts came from AddThis.com, a company that specializes in online advertising, content and web tracking tools. AddThis.com could not immediately be reached for comment.

The researchers also found some top websites using a method called “respawning,” where technologies such as Adobe System’s Flash multimedia program are manipulated to replace cookies that may have been deleted.

These “evercookies” are “an extremely resilient tracking mechanism, and have been found to be used by many popular sites to circumvent deliberate user actions,” the researchers wrote on a website that summarized their findings. Respawning Flash cookies were found on 107 of the top 10,000 sites.

The third method, cookie syncing, involves domains that share pseudonymous IDs associated with a user. The practice is also known as cookie matching and is a workaround for the same-origin policy, a security measure that prevents sites from directly reading each other’s cookies. Such matching is helpful for targeting advertisements and for selling those ads in automated online auctions.

The researchers argue that cookie syncing “can greatly amplify privacy breaches” since companies could merge their databases containing the browsing histories of users they’re monitoring. Such sharing would be hidden from public view.

Those companies are then in “position to merge their database entries corresponding to a particular user, thereby reconstructing a larger fraction of the user’s browsing patterns.”

“All of this argues that greater oversight over online tracking is becoming ever more necessary,” they wrote.

The paper was authored by Gunes Acar, Christian Eubank, Steven Englehardt, Marc Juarez, Arvind Narayanan and Claudia Diaz.

Author : Jeremy Kirk

Source : http://www.pcworld.com/article/2456640/stealthy-web-tracking-tools-pose-increasing-privacy-risks-to-users.html

Categorized in Internet Privacy
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