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The web is infested with marketers mining your data and targeting you for sales. Foil the snoops with the tracking protection and privacy-conscious search features offered by these secure browsers.

Online privacy is a major concern in the tech world, and by far the biggest privacy issues arise when you browse the internet. Why? Because online marketers of all stripes are keen to monetize you by following you around the web with tracking via cookies, your IP address, and other device-specific identifiers.

How Are You Being Tracked Right Now?

Cookies are small bits of data that websites deposit in your browser’s storage to keep track of logins and remember your site activity. They’re essential to making the web more useable, saving you from having to recreate your login and actions every time you use a site. The privacy issue arises with third-party cookies—those that are dropped into your browser not by the site you’re viewing but by a third party (most often Google, Facebook, or advertising services) that other websites have access to for perusing your internet trail—are not the only threat to privacy. A more recent threat is fingerprinting, a way of using webpage headers and JavaScript to build a profile of you based on your system configuration. Your browser fingerprint can consist of your browser type and version, operating system, plug-ins, time zone, language, screen resolution, installed fonts, and more.

That means that even if you turn off third-party cookies (Google has stated it plans to remove support for them in its Chrome browser some time in 2023), sites can often still identify you via fingerprinting. In fact, fingerprinting is a more concerning privacy concern than cookies. You can delete cookies at any time, but, unless you get a new device, you can’t escape your digital footprint. Another issue is the long string of characters some sites add when you copy a web address. Those identify you as well, and a browser extension called ClearURLs can help protect this kind of tracking.

How Can You Prevent Web Tracking?

A browser can take measures to protect you against these privacy infringements, but note that private browsing mode—variously called Incognito mode, InPrivate, or simply Private mode—usually doesn’t protect you against tracking. This mode usually just hides your activities from the local machine’s history.

Some browsers, such as Edge and Safari, block known fingerprinters based on blacklists, and Firefox is working on a behavioral blocking system that alerts you if a site tries to perform actions that look like fingerprinting—for example, trying to extract your hardware specs using the HTML Canvas feature. That experimental Firefox tool removes identifying data used by fingerprinters. The Brave browser, Avast Secure Browser, and Apple’s Safari already have features that obscure data such as “device and browser configuration, and fonts and plug-ins you have installed,” according to Apple’s site. 

Another privacy protection landing in browsers such as Firefox and Edge lately is support for more secure DNS protocols. That’s the system of servers that your browser contacts to translate text web addresses into their number equivalents that web servers use. By default, your ISP’s DNS servers provide this translation, but secure browsers now use DoH (DNS over HTTPS) to both encrypt the connection and to prevent your ISP from sending your unfound browsing requests to their search providers. For more on all this, read How (and Why) to Change Your DNS Server.

How Do You Know if You Are Trackable?

The EFF (Electronic Freedom Frontier) organization publishes a Cover Your Tracks webpage to test your browser’s susceptibility to tracking and fingerprinting. It uses a real tracking company—the name of which it does not reveal—for its tests. Be forewarned: It almost always reports that your browser has a unique fingerprint. Other tools you can use to see how unique your digital fingerprint is included AmIUnique and Device Info.

If you still want to use Chrome or another browser without much tracking protection, you have recourse in plugins that may help protect your privacy, such as Decentraleyes, DuckDuckGo, PrivacyBadger, or uBlock Origin.

As with everything in life, there’s no such thing as perfect security or privacy. But using one of these browsers can at least make it harder for entities to track your internet browsing, to different degrees. As always, if you have better solutions or disagreements, feel free to chime in below in our comments section.

Apple Safari

Apple Safari

 

Apple was one of the first major tech vendors to raise the profile of fingerprinting as a privacy concern, discussing it at WWDC 2018. The default browser for Apple devices, Safari, offers some protection against this type of tracking by presenting “a simplified version of the system configuration to trackers so more devices look identical, making it harder to single one out,” according to the company’s documentation.

Safari offers minimal settings for privacy and only gets a result of “some protection” and “some gaps” on the EFF Cover Your Tracks test. The “nearly” unique fingerprint result, however, is better than most browsers (even Firefox), for which the test reports “Your browser has a unique fingerprint.”

Platforms: macOS, iOS, iPadOS

Avast Secure Browser

Avast Secure Browser

 

Avast is one of the few browsers included here with built-in VPN functionality, but unlike that in Opera, using it will cost you $5.99 per month, with discounts for multi-year signups. Avast tells you that its VPN uses the open-source, industry-standard OpenVPN protocol. There’s a one-week free trial, too, that doesn’t require payment info, though Avast has offered free services before with questionable nonmonetary costs.

The browser also features built-in ad blocking, anti-phishing features, and a password manager. The default search provider is tracker-in-chief Google, but the EFF’s Cover Your Tracks tool reports strong tracking protection though with a unique (traceable) fingerprinting profile. The Chromium-based browser looks good and is compatible with most sites.

Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Window

Brave Privacy Browser

Brave Privacy Browser

 
Free at Google Play
See It

Brave is a browser with an emphasis on privacy and ad-blocking, but at the same time, it lets you earn cryptocurrency while you browse. Like most browsers these days (apart from Firefox, Tor, and Safari), Brave relies on a customized version of Chromium, the code that powers Google Chrome, meaning it’s compatible with most websites. Brave has higher goals than simply letting you hoard crypto or even protecting your privacy: Its creators want to achieve a revolution in the way web commerce works, with direct micropayments taking the place of rampant ads.

The EFF’s Cover Your Tracks tool reports “strong protection against Web tracking,” and the browser’s Shields block third-party tracking cookies and ads by default. Brave forces HTTPS (something common among recent browsers) and lets you choose between Standard and Aggressive tracker and adblocking. Brave also has advanced fingerprinting protections that do things like “randomizing the output of semi-identifying browser features” and turning off features commonly used to sniff device info. This meant that Brave was the only browser for which the EFF tool reported a randomized fingerprint.

To earn cryptocurrency rewards with Brave, the software periodically pops up an unobtrusive ad in a box outside the browser window—you can turn this off if you’d rather not see those. At one point, the Brave cryptocoin, called Basic Attention Token (BAT) increased by over 1,000% in value, though now it’s only up about 200 percent from its initial launch.

Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Bromite

Bromite

 

Bromite is an Android-only browser that’s a fork of Chromium—a fancy way to say it’s based on the code that underlies Google Chrome, edited to its needs. (Microsoft Edge is also Chromium-based.). According to the browser’s website, Bromite is a “no-clutter browsing experience without privacy-invasive features and with the addition of a fast ad-blocking engine.” It’s not on the Google Play Store, since it’s un-Googled to the extent the developers found possible. That means you need to allow installation of its APK (application package file) in your Android Settings.

Oddly, Bromium’s default search provider is Google, though you can change that to a private search provider like DuckDuckGo. Like Safari, Bromium earned the “nearly unique” fingerprint designation, compared to most browsers’ “unique” designation. That means it’s a little harder to identify you exactly. Bromite even offers its own Fingerprinting Mitigations Test Page, though interpreting its results isn’t intuitive. Otherwise, Bromite looks and works a lot like the Android version of Chrome.

Platforms: Android

DuckDuckGoo

DuckDuckGo

 

The famed private search provider also makes a standalone mobile web browser, and on the desktop,its DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials extension can help turn your browser into a privacy-focused piece of software. It blocks third-party trackers, switches your search engine to its privacy-focused one, forces sites to use an encrypted (HTTPS) connection where available, and lets you see a privacy score for sites you visit. The extension raised Chrome’s score on the EFF’s Cover Your Tracks tool to Strong Protection.

Platforms: Android, iOS, Extension for desktop browser

Epic Privacy Browser

Epic Privacy Browser

4.0

Like Opera, Epic Privacy Browser includes built-in VPN-like functionality with its encrypted proxy; this hides your IP address from the web at large. The company claims the Epic blocks ads, trackers, cryptomining, and even ultrasound signaling! It also blocks fingerprint tracking scripts and ads and prevents WebRTC. Unfortunately, the EFF’s Cover Your Tracks tool reports only partial protection against tracking ads and invisible trackers in Epic with default settings. (You see the same result that you get with Google Chrome: “Our tests indicate that you have some protection against Web tracking, but it has some gaps.”) When you tap Epic’s umbrella button to enable the built-in version of uBlock, the results improve to Strong Protection against web tracking.

The browser interface looks almost identical to that of Chrome, aside from the included privacy and proxy extension buttons. Otherwise, it lacks special convenience features found in competitors like Edge and Opera.

Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Epic Privacy Browser Review
Firefox

Firefox

4.5

Mozilla has long been at the forefront of trying to improve privacy on the web. The company even came up with the Do Not Track option for browsers, which Google swiftly rendered useless; that only makes sense for a company that bases much of its business on tracking users. Firefox was also the first browser with a private browsing mode that could hide browsing not only from people with access to your device but also from other sites.

Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection’s Standard-setting blocks social media trackers, cross-site tracking cookies, cross-site cookies in Private Windows, tracking content in Private Windows, cryptominers, and fingerprinters. The EFF’s Cover Your Tracks tool reports “strong protection against Web tracking” at this setting. Strict mode blocks trackers hidden in ads, videos, and other site content. The fingerprinting protection currently uses a list of known fingerprint trackers, but Mozilla is working on a future update that will make your browser look more undistinguishable to thwart fingerprinters.

Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux

Mozilla Firefox Review
Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge

4.0

The accursed Internet Explorer is finally far in the rear-view mirror, and even its initial Edge replacement has now been replaced with a truly modern Chromium-based Edge. The Microsoft team behind Edge had privacy as a top goal when developing the browser, along with customization and productivity features like its Collections for web research. The browser continues to innovate as Windows 11 approaches, with vertical tabs, forced HTTPS connections, sleeping tabs, performance boosts, and new accessibility features like enhanced contrast.

For privacy, Edge includes tracking protection at a choice of three levels: Basic, Balanced, and Strict. According to an Edge blog post, all levels block “trackers we detect as cryptomining or fingerprinting.” But there’s no attempt to make the browser appear more generic and less identifiable as some other browsers included here do. Edge also supports Secure DNS. Not in its favor, Edge does offer to personalize your advertising in Bing and Microsoft News; you can turn this off and visit your privacy dashboard to check your settings.

On the EFF’s Cover Your Tracks test, Edge gets a rating of “strong protection against Web tracking” but indicates you still have a unique, and therefore trackable, fingerprint.

Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows. (Linux version in beta)

Microsoft Edge Review
Opera

Opera

4.0

Opera has a long history of innovation among web browsers. The Norwegian software company was the first to include tabs and integrated search in a web browser, and an Opera developer invented CSS, just for starters. Now, it’s the only browser with a built-in VPN, and the company offers a gaming browser called Opera GX. PCMag’s VPN always corrects me when I say that Opera has a built-in VPN, saying it should be called a Proxy, not a VPN. The distinction is that a standard VPN cloaks your IP address from all the traffic from your computer, while Opera’s feature only applies to the browser itself. Opera states that it’s a no-logging VPN, which is something you should look for when choosing any VPN. It uses AES-256 encryption.

Opera also blocks ads and trackers by default, but it doesn’t have specific anti-fingerprinting features, aside from the list-based tracker blocking. With its Speed Dial and sidebar of quick-access buttons to things like messaging services and frequently visited sites, Opera still stands apart from most browsers in offering unique conveniences.

Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Opera Review
The Tor Browser

The Tor Browser

3.5

The Tor (“the onion router”) browser’s slogan is “Protect yourself against tracking, surveillance, and censorship.” It’s the ultimate in privacy protection in a browser, and the EFF’s privacy test reports “strong protection against Web tracking.” It provides a multi-step encrypted route for your browser that makes identifying you very difficult. The reason it provides more privacy than a VPN is that your encrypted traffic goes through at least three nodes. The first node it goes through knows the source but not the destination of the traffic, the middle ones know neither, and the last only knows the destination—making it nearly impossible to trace the traffic back to you. In a VPN, the VPN provider has access to both the origin (your browser) and the destination site you’re browsing to after the traffic leaves one of the company’s VPN servers—so you need to trust the VPN company you choose. Just as VPN exit nodes are known—which enables Netflix and the like to block people from using VPNs—the destinations know you’re using Tor, but not your originating identity.

The downside? It slows down your browsing drastically—even more than a VPN would since it goes through multiple hops between your device and the internet. That said, installing and starting up the Tor browser has gotten much simpler in recent years—both used to be multi-step processes. What’s more, if you crank up Tor to its safest level of protection and disable JavaScript, a lot of common sites won’t run—basically anything that features interactive content, such as YouTube. Tor lets you access sites that use its own onion protocol that’s separate from the standard web, often called the dark web, in addition to providing privacy and access to the standard web.

An even more private way to run Tor is through Tails—a lightweight operating system based on Ubuntu that you run off a USB drive. Tails don’t save any unencrypted data from your browsing session and leave no traces on your computer’s drive.

Platforms: Android, Linux, macOS, Windows

Tor Browser Review
Vivaldi

Vivaldi

3.5

Vivaldi, an offshoot of Opera that also uses the Chromium browser code, is the ultimate in customizability among browsers. It also includes some innovative features like built-in translation, split-window view, tab groups, notes, a link sidebar, and mouse gesture support.

Vivaldi includes built-in ad-blocking and tracker blocking, though it doesn’t specifically attempt to thwart fingerprinters. As with the rest of the browser’s features, privacy settings are deep, broad, and granular, as you can see in the screenshot above. The EFF’s Cover Your Tracks test reported “strong protection against Web tracking” for Vivaldi with tracking protection on, though it still reported a unique fingerprint.

Platforms: Android, Linux, macOS

[Source: This article was published in pcmag.com By Michael Muchmore - Uploaded by the Association Member: Logan Hochstetler]
Categorized in Search Engine

Can a privacy-focused search engine survive on today's Internet? It appears that it can, as DuckDuckGo is looking to end the year 2021 with another record-breaking traffic increase.

I have followed the rise of DuckDuckGo since 2012 when I announced here on this site that it became my primary search engine. I had plenty of reasons for that, but privacy was the main one.

Then came PRISM, and DuckDuckGo's traffic started to rise a lot. Back in 2013, traffic rose to more than 2 million queries per day, a small number for search engine heavyweight Google Search, but an important milestone for the DuckDuckGo search engine.

In 2015, DuckDuckGo reported that it crossed the 10 million daily searches mark, and this year (2021), it managed to cross the 100 million searches mark for the first time.

duckduckgo-growth.jpg

If you look at the reported traffic figures for 2019 and 2020, you get about 15 billion queries in 2019 and 23.6 billion in 2020.

Here is the year-by-year listing from 2015 to 2020.

  • 2015 -- 3.1 billion
  • 2016 -- 4.0 billion
  • 2017 -- 5.9 billion
  • 2018 -- 9.2 billion
  • 2019 -- 15.0 billion
  • 2020 --23.6 billion

Now, in 2021, it looks as if the search engine will report another record year. It is mid-June right now, and traffic is already at 16.0 billion queries. With six months to go, it is very likely that the 30 billion marks will be crossed in the year, and that traffic will likely end between 32-34 billion queries in the year.

The search engine announced plans today to accelerate the growth further. The company plans to release its first desktop application, which it states can be used as a primary browser. DuckDuckGo did not reveal any details on its new browser project. It is likely that it will be based on Chromium, but there is also a chance that Firefox might be its base. If the former is true, it will be interesting to see how it fares against other privacy browsers such as Brave or Vivaldi. Brave, on the other hand, is testing its own search engine that is focused on privacy.

Additionally, it wants to add "new privacy protections" to its portfolio of features and tools, including a "cross-platform email privacy solution" and "app tracker blocking on Android devices" later this year to provide even more privacy services to its users (and new ones).

DuckDuckGo has been profitable since 2014 and generates a revenue of over $100 million US Dollars now.

Now You: which search engine do you use predominantly? 

[Source: This article was published in ghacks.net By Martin Brinkmann - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anthony Frank]
Categorized in Search Engine

DuckDuckGo has launched a new browser extension for Chrome that will prevent FLoC, a new tracking technique used by Google to support web advertising without identifying users.

Privacy browser DuckDuckGo has launched a new extension for Chrome that's designed to block Google's new algorithm for tracking users' browsing activity for ad selection.

DuckDuckGo's new browser extension blocks FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), which Google introduced to users in March as a replacement for third-party cookies that track individuals across the web.

FLoC is proposed as a method for offering greater anonymity for users by concealing their browsing activity within a group (or 'cohort') of other anonymized users with similar browsing habits. In doing so, advertisers can offer up relevant ads to cohorts of several thousands of users with similar interests, while the identity of individual users remains hidden.

But some see problems with this proposal. While the idea of 'hiding' individuals within a group sounds like better news for user privacy, websites can still target users with ads based on their assigned 'FloC ID', which essentially offers up a summary of interests and demographic information based on a user's browsing habits. What's more, websites can theoretically still track individuals, owing to the fact that every time you visit a website, it records your IP address.

This is where DuckDuckGo's new tool comes in. Currently, FLoC is only being used within Google Chrome, and while it has not yet been rolled out en masse, Google has announced plans to begin trialing FLoC-based cohorts with advertisers starting in Q2.

The FLoC-blocking feature is included in version 2021.4.8 and newer of the DuckDuckGo extension. DuckDuckGo Search is now also configured to opt out of FLoC.

"We're disappointed that, despite the many publicly voiced concerns with FLoC that have not yet been addressed, Google is already forcing FLoC upon users without explicitly asking them to opt-in," DuckDuckGo said in a blog post.

"We're nevertheless committed and will continue to do our part to deliver on our vision of raising the standard of trust online."

Google's Privacy Sandbox

Google has been working on a replacement for third-party cookies for some time. As detailed in a post on its Chromium Blog in January this year, FLoCs are one of a handful of methods the search giant is looking at as part of its 'Privacy Sandbox' for the web.

The company has claimed that FLoC algorithms are at least 95% as effective as cookie-based advertising when it comes to helping advertisers target users, which it says is "great news for users, publishers, and advertisers".

Chetna Bindra, Google's Group Product Manager for User Trust and Privacy, suggested in a blog post in January that tools like FLoC and other privacy-preserving methods proposed as part of Google's Privacy Sandbox would enhance fraud protection and prevent 'fingerprinting', whereby data from a user's browser is gathered to create a profile.

Bindra labeled FLoC a "privacy-first alternative to third-party cookies" that "effectively hides individuals 'in the crowd' and uses on-device processing to keep a person's web history private on the browser."

Yet others have pointed out that FLoC doesn't eliminate the threat of fingerprinting entirely. As well as the possibility of websites identifying users through a combination of their cohort ID and IP address, cohort IDs will also be accessible by any third-party trackers within the websites that users visit.

Google has said that it will work to ensure that "sensitive interest categories" like religion, identity, sexual interests, race, and medical or personal issues can't be used to target ads to users or to promote advertisers' products or services.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital rights group, argues that these precautions don't go far enough. "The proposal rests on the assumption that people in 'sensitive categories' will visit specific 'sensitive' websites, and that people who aren't in those groups will not visit said sites," it said in a blog post.

"But behavior correlates with demographics in unintuitive ways. It's highly likely that certain demographics are going to visit a different subset of the web than other demographics are, and that such behavior will not be captured by Google's 'sensitive sites' framing," the EFF added.

There are other methods for blocking FLoC, as laid out by DuckDuckGo. Unsurprisingly, the main one involves bypassing Google Chrome entirely – bear in mind, of course, that DuckDuckGo has its own competing browser in the game.

Users can also remain logged out of their Google account; switch off ad personalization within the Google Ad Settings; avoid syncing their search history data with Chrome; and disable Web & App Activity within Google's Activity Controls.

Google plans to roll out updated activity controls with the incoming Chrome 90 release.

[Source: This article was published in techrepublic.com By Owen Hughes - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jasper Solander]

Categorized in Search Engine

Google has positioned its third-party cookie replacement squarely between advertisers and users, and both sides are worried.

FLoC is coming — Here’s what we know so far

Earlier this month, Google announced that it would not build or use alternate identifiers to track users for advertising purposes. Instead, the company reiterated that its ads will be driven by one of its Privacy Sandbox initiatives, called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC).

Advertisers have been anticipating the shift away from third-party cookies for years, but now, we have some understanding of the technology that the industry leader will be backing to replace it. Google has positioned FLoC squarely between users, who have grown increasingly privacy-conscious, and advertisers, who view it in the shadow of the third-party cookies they’ve become accustomed to. This has generated questions and concerns from both sides, many of which are unlikely to be addressed until further testing occurs. Here’s what we know so far.

What is FLoC

FLoC is a method for browsers to enable interest-based advertising. It works by gathering data about a user’s browsing habits and then clustering groups of users with similar interests into cohorts. The algorithm used to develop those cohorts may look at the URLs of sites that the user visited and the content of those pages, among other factors, according to the FLoC proposal on GitHub. Information about the cohort is then shared for advertising purposes.

Individual user data is kept locally, in the browser, and the browser only exposes the cohort ID. Cohorts would ideally include enough people to make it difficult to identify any particular individual within the group, but also be specific enough to enable effective ad targeting. Users are assigned into new cohorts on a weekly basis, based on their previous week’s browsing data.

Google has announced that it expects to start testing FLoC-based cohorts with advertisers beginning in Q2 of this year. “Our tests of FLoC to reach in-market and affinity Google Audiences show that advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising,” the company said. And, at the time of publication, FLoC will only be rolling out to Google’s Chrome browser.

Why it’s such a big change. Advertisers are used to targeting via third-party cookies, which enable them to reach specific individuals. With FLoC, individuals are put into a cohort-based on their interests, adding a layer of anonymity that may help increase user privacy.

Another distinction is that the assigning of cohorts is all done within the browser, which means users’ information is kept locally. With third-party cookies, a third party may be storing user data on one of their own servers.

The challenges that lay ahead for FLoC

In response to users’ demands for greater privacy, Safari and Firefox stopped supporting third-party cookies. Google, however, owns a massively profitable ads business as well as the Chrome browser, which means that its third-party cookie replacement has to satisfy advertisers and users, and advocates for both sides are anxious about how FLoC will affect them.

Privacy concerns. Grouping users into cohorts help hide individuals within a crowd, but that may not be enough to stop motivated actors from extracting individual user data.

FLoC’s biggest selling points (the cohorts of thousands of users) might actually facilitate browser fingerprinting, in which many pieces of data from the browser are compiled to create a unique identifier. This is because the cohort ID lumps users into a group of perhaps several thousand people, which would greatly decrease the number of browsers a tracker would have to distinguish between to establish an identifier. Google has proposed a “Privacy Budget” to combat fingerprinting, but at the time of publication, it remains an early-stage proposal and does not yet have a browser implementation, despite having announced that FLoC will be open for advertiser testing within a few months.

The FLoC proposal itself also highlights a number of user privacy concerns. “Sites that know a person’s PII [personally identifiable information] (e.g., when people sign in using their email address) could record and reveal their cohort,” the proposal reads. This may enable trackers to learn about a user’s browsing history or the demographic information of members of particular cohorts, which could enable advertisers to discriminate against audiences.

When asked about how cohorts may be used to target certain demographics or reveal sensitive information, Google provided the following statement:

“Google Ads has long-standing policies against the targeting or exclusion of people based on sensitive categories. FLoC IDs will follow similar principles. Chrome’s FLoC analysis will evaluate whether a cohort may be sensitive without learning why it is sensitive. So cohorts that reveal sensitive categories like race, sexuality, or personal hardships are blocked or the clustering algorithm will be reconfigured to reduce the correlation. In addition, it is also against our policies to serve personalized ads on these sensitive categories.”

Targeting. “We [currently] have this pie of available targeting options, what percentage of that pie is going to go away?” Julie Friedman Bacchini, president of Neptune Moon and managing director of PPCChat, said, sharing a common concern for advertisers in the wake of Google repeating its support for FLoC and proclaiming that it would not build or use alternate identifiers to track users.

This is one worry that Google may be able to put to rest: “It is best to think of FLoC as advertisers will have the same ability to reach relevant audiences, only instead of being able to do this on an individual basis, it would be based on cohorts (i.e., thousands of users),” a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land. Essentially, the company is saying that the targeting options that are currently available won’t change — what’s changing is that advertisers will be targeting cohorts composed of thousands of people, as opposed to specific individuals.

Turtledove is Google’s retargeting solution

Google has also introduced Turtledove, another Privacy Sandbox initiative, to give advertisers a way to retarget audiences while approaching user privacy similarly to FLoC.

The Turtledove API uses information, stored on the browser, about advertisers the user has expressed a prior interest in, along with information about the current page. It then sends two requests for ads: one to retrieve an ad based on an advertiser-defined interest, and another to retrieve an ad based on contextual data. These requests are independent so ad networks can’t link them together to learn that the requests are from the same browser.

Next, the browser conducts an auction to select the most relevant ad using JavaScript code provided by the advertiser. The code can only be used to determine ads; it cannot make network requests.

Fledge is Google’s early prototype that builds on Turtledove. It will include a method for on-device bidding algorithms to use additional information from a “trusted” server. “To help early experimentation before the new trusted servers are available, we propose a ‘Bring Your Own Server’ model and expect to ship this first experiment during 2021,” Google said in a blog post.

What you can do to prepare for the change

Despite the many uncertainties surrounding Google’s replacement for third-party cookies, there are still ways that you can position your agency and your clients to hit the ground running when the changes finally occur.

Collect your own data. “Put some real thought and effort into creating your own first-party data,” Friedman Bacchini said, adding, “Build your email lists [and] you’re going to want to have people coming and engaging and doing something on your web property so that you can capture that information.”

Compiling and maintaining first-party data enables you to upload your customer lists to platforms that can help you market directly to those customers, or create lookalike audiences.

Communicate the changes to your clients. As with any major change, workflows may be impacted, which can result in inefficiencies and/or wasted spend. Preparing a simple overview of the changes can help your staff get ready for them and help to reframe client expectations. You should also provide updates as more information becomes available.

Keep up to date with the news. As previously mentioned, Google plans to conduct various tests of this new targeting method. The findings from those experiments may inform their final implementation. Stay up to date with how FLoC and the move away from third-party cookies unfold so that you can better prepare your business and/or clients for the change. 

Questions remain about Google’s third-party cookie alternative

FLoC is replacing a decades-old technology, which means that it may be some time before all our questions about it get answered. For example, at the time of publication, Chrome is the only browser set to adopt FLoC, so how will advertisers on Google’s platform reach users on Safari, for example, which accounts for over a third of the U.S. browser market, according to Statcounter. Additionally, will Google only allow advertising to FLoC-derived cohorts on Chrome, turning it into a walled garden?

“At the end of the day, it really comes down to how this is going to impact my ability to deliver the results that my clients expect and the kinds of results that I’ve been able to deliver up until now,” Friedman Bacchini said. At this point, we don’t know the extent to which advertisers’ campaigns and workflows will change as we move away from third-party cookies, and although Google is sure to make more announcements over time, the entire picture is only likely to get clearer once we’re able to test out the technology ourselves.

[Source: This article was published in searchengineland.com By George Nguyen - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jeremy Frink]
Categorized in Search Engine

The Brave web browser has set out to become one of the best Chrome for desktop alternatives, and this latest move puts it in a pretty good position. Brave announced in a blog post on Wednesday that it has acquired the open-source search engine, Tailcat, and is integrating it into its privacy-focused web browser.

Brave web browser is coming after Google with its own privacy-based search

For those not familiar with Brave, it's an open-source web browser made using the Chromium source code. Because of this, it looks and feels like Google Chrome in many ways, although without many of its bells and whistles, while also claiming to be more battery efficient. The main difference, though, is that Brave is focused on privacy, something that Google often struggles with. Brave does not track its users for targeted ads and instead has partnered with various companies to serve "privacy-respecting" ads that can reward users by just watching.

Brave just pulled a fast one on Google Search

By purchasing Tailcat and turning it into Brave Search, users will have a fully-integrated solution for private browsing as an alternative to Google Search and Chrome. CEO and co-founder of Brave Software, Brendan Eich highlights the invasiveness of Big Tech as a motivation for launching a privacy-focused search engine:

Brave's mission is to put the user first, and integrating privacy-preserving search into our platform is a necessary step to ensure that user privacy is not plundered to fuel the surveillance economy.

The company maintains that because Brave Search is open source, it will remain independent so that improvements made to the platform are from anonymous contributors. It outlines in a paper how its ranking model will be built to avoid any bias with search results. Users will also have the option for an ad-supported or a paid, ad-free experience, and those that choose ads will not be targeted. Brave Search is aiming for full transparency with its users.

Brave points to the recent exodus of WhatsApp users to services like Signal as a sign that users are actively seeking more private alternatives for their apps and services. The company believes that this move makes it the right choice for users who are looking for an alternative to Google. It's even open to making its search engine available for other browsers.

Brave has open sign-ups to test its upcoming search engine, although there's no word on when it will be available.

[Source: This article was published in androidcentral.com By Derrek Lee - Uploaded by the Association Member: James Gill]
Categorized in Search Engine

All web browsers include a default search engine and a set of search engines that is supported by default. You search when you type anything in the address bar that is not an address and will always use the default search engine for that.

Browsers include options to change the default search engine so that another one is used whenever you type in the address bar, but what if you want to use different search engines based on your queries? You could open the homepages of non-default search engines and start searches from there, but there is an easier option, and it is included in all Chromium-based web browsers including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Vivaldi, Opera, or Brave.

All of these browsers support the ancient keywords feature. Basically, what it does is associate a shortcut with a search engine URL to run searches using that shortcut.

Some browsers map single-letter shortcuts to search engines e.g. Vivaldi does that.  Using Vivaldi, you can use the sequence B-Key, then Tab-key, to run searches using Bing, or D-Key then Tab-key, to use DuckDuckGo.

Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Brave support keywords as well, but the companies have set the keywords to the domain name. That's a nuisance, as you need to type Bing.com then Tab-key to run a search from Bing, or ecosia.org then Tab-key to use that search engine.

chrome keywords search

Users who would like to make use of the keywords feature in Chromium-based browsers may run into the following two primary issues:

  1. How to add search engines that are not integrated with the web browser by default.
  2. How to make sure that "sane" keywords are linked to search engines to speed up the process.

Adding search engines to Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers

chrome search engines

Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers pick up search engines automatically. The best option is to visit the search engine's homepage, e.g. Startpage, and run a single search. It should be added to the browser's selection of search engines automatically at that point.

Load chrome://settings/search engines (note that the address may be different depending on the browser) to verify that the search engine is available. You may use the search on the page to find a search engine quickly if lots are listed on the page.

To get to the page manually, select Menu > Settings > Manage Search Engines (or Search Engines).

Customizing keyword shortcuts for search engines

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The browser lists the keywords on the search engine management page. You change them with a click on the three dots that are displayed at the rightmost location of the search engine's line on the page and selecting "Edit" from the menu that opens.

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You may then change the keyword (and other parameters). The new keyword is displayed directly in the listing, and you may use it directly in the address bar without a restart.

Just type the new keyword followed by a tap on the Tab-key, a search term, and Enter-key to run a search using the associated search engine.

Now You: do you use keywords in your browser? (via Deskmodder)

 [Source: This article was published in ghacks.net By Martin Brinkmann - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila] 
Categorized in Search Engine

Search results can be cluttered with ads and other less-useful information. These add-ons strip out the junk to help you find exactly what you're looking for.

THE WEB IS a big place, which is why we need search engines. But given that virtually every popular search engine now heavily weights its top results in favor of its own products, services, and ads, it's gotten surprisingly difficult to really find the information you're looking for.

Luckily, these browser extensions for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox take your searches to the next level, making them smarter and faster, so you don't have to spend so much time sifting through ads and irrelevant information to find good search results.

From digging deeper into Wikipedia to querying multiple search engines at once, you should be able to find something of use here. Note that the new Microsoft Edge browser is based on Chromium, like Google Chrome is, so you can install any extension from the Chrome Web Store.

Search the Current Site

Full marks to this particular browser add-on for one of the most straightforward and descriptive names we've come across: Search the Current Site does exactly that, running your query of choice on every page across the domain you're currently visiting (such as www.wired.com). While your browser lets you search through the single web page you're currently viewing if you tap Ctrl+F (Windows) or Cmd+F (macOS), this extension is a far more comprehensive and customizable way of getting results from one particular website.
Wikipedia Search

It's likely that a lot of your web searches are going to lead you to Wikipedia anyway, so you can speed up the process by querying the online encyclopedia right from the address bar in Chrome or Edge—just type "wiki" followed by your search keywords. The extension does more than that though, also enabling you to look up terms from inside Wikipedia and on the web at large through the right-click context menu. It works with hundreds of languages that Wikipedia supports and is a must if you spend a lot of time hunting through its pages.

Wolfram|Alpha

Google is fine, up to a point, but Wolfram|Alpha beats it in all kinds of areas—from mathematical equations and algebra to cultural history and entertainment. It does conversions and calculations, physics queries, and data about engineering, and can also dig into information on transportation, the economy, and health. There's plenty more to explore besides everything we've already mentioned, and with this extension set up, you can get at the vast array of features offered by Wolfram|Alpha with a single click.

Simple Search

The Simple Search extension offers a reminder of what web searches used to look like: If you run a search using Bing or Google with Simple Search enabled, you'll get a plain and uncluttered list of results, without any of the distractions of ads, info boxes, and sponsored links. The simplified search results appear on top of the standard results, so if you want to see the original page, it's only a click away—otherwise enjoy searching the web the old-fashioned way.

TinEye Reverse Image Search

TinEye is one of those essential resources that should be in the toolkit of every serious web searcher. It scours the internet for pictures, or rather one specific picture that you provide—it can help you spot scams and fakes, work out the origin of an image, direct you towards different sizes of a certain picture, and more. This official TinEye extension makes it easier for you to launch image searches, via a new entry that gets added to the right-click context menu in your browser. Sure, in Chrome you can search for images by right-clicking on them as well, but this gives you another—and sometimes more useful—option.

Search All

Sometimes just one search engine isn't enough—Search All enables you to query Google, Bing, Amazon, Wikipedia, eBay, Twitter, YouTube, and any other search engine or searchable portal you want to add. It's easy to switch between the search options you've configured, and the extension makes it straightforward to focus your searches on shopping sites, image databases, video and movie sites, recipe portals, or whatever else you're particularly interested in. The add-on comes with some useful customizations too.

Multiple Tabs Search

Multiple Tabs Search is a web search extension for power users: Essentially, it lets you run multiple searches at once, together with any necessary parameters you want to add (to limit results to a certain site, for example). It can really speed up your searching if you're got a lot of queries to get through, and you can even remove certain sites (such as YouTube or Facebook) from the list of matches if necessary. The add-on can also be used to open a list of URLs at the same time in successive tabs, making it an even more useful utility.

InvisibleHand

InvisibleHand is a search tool that runs automatically in the background for you, springing into life whenever it finds the product you're currently looking at for a cheaper price somewhere else on the web. It can also load up coupons relevant to the site that you're currently visiting, just in case you can get some money off, and there's also the option to set up price alerts on particular items that you're interested in getting—potentially saving you hours of manually searching the web and clicking around to find the best deals online.

Giphy

Never be stuck for a GIF again by adding the Giphy extension right to your browser toolbar. No matter what the occasion, you can save yourself a substantial amount of searching time by loading up this add-on and typing in some keywords—you can then copy the URL link to your chosen GIF, or drag and drop it straight into the web page you're on (your reactions will never have been so fast). The extension's pop-up window also showcases GIFs that are trending and proving popular, in case you're stuck for some inspiration.

[Source: This article was published in wired.com By DAVID NIELD - Uploaded by the Association Member: Eric Beaudoin ]

Categorized in Search Engine

If you browse the web in Incognito mode, everything you do is private, right? In a word, no.

Your internet service provider, for example, can still see your activity. This misconception has even turned into a legal battle. A proposed class-action lawsuit accuses Google of tracking users while in Incognito mode, among other things.

If Incognito mode isn’t genuinely private, why use it? I have a few practical uses you’ll want to try.

What does Incognito mode do?

While Incognito mode — in any browser — does provide more privacy than if you’re not using it, it doesn’t live up to the expectations that many have. So, what exactly does it mean to use incognito mode?

When you surf the web incognito, your browser doesn’t save your browsing history, cookies, site data or information you enter in forms. It does, however, keep any downloaded files or bookmarks created during the session. Not to mention the fact that your IP address and computer data are still vulnerable to hackers.

Your internet service provider can still see your activity, as can a school or employer providing your internet access or computer.

When using Incognito mode is a good idea

Now, you don’t have true anonymity in Incognito mode, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth using. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. Signing in to multiple email accounts

It’s a pain when you want to check your personal inbox, but you’re logged into another account. Instead of using separate browsers or signing in and out of your accounts, use Incognito mode.

Try signing into your work email using your browser usually, then open an Incognito window for your personal account.

2. Shopping for gifts

Whenever you shop online for a gift, whether it’s for a birthday, anniversary, or Christmas, you want it to be a surprise. Targeted ads can ruin those special moments.

When you shop online, your browser keeps tabs on everything that you look for. Later, you’ll see ads pop-up on other sites that try to get you to come back to make the purchase — even if you already bought the item.

Those ads won’t only be displayed for you. If the person you’re buying the gift for uses your computer, tablet, or smartphone, they will see the same ads. Of course, this is going to tip them off as to what you’re up to. That won’t happen if you shop in Incognito mode.

3. Avoid auto-fill suggestions in the future

Ever need to find instructions for a DIY project on a site like YouTube? The platform is great for learning how to do pretty much anything these days. Need to know how to replace the battery in your car? No worries, there are tons of YouTube videos that will give you step-by-step details on how to do it.

But the need to change your car battery only comes around once every few years. You don’t want to be inundated with suggestions on how to change your car’s battery every time you visit YouTube or any other site for that matter.

You can avoid these annoying suggestions by searching in Incognito mode. When your battery dies three years from now, you can do another search for instructions without being bombarded with suggestions.

4. Booking travel

Some travel companies keep track of what you’ve searched for recently and will increase prices the next time you visit the site. If you use Incognito mode, you don’t have to worry about price gouging.

It’s not just the travel industry that does this, either. Many online shopping sites know when you’re stalking an item and could raise the price if you leave and come back later to buy it. Don’t leave it up to chance.

5. Getting out of your bubble

You’ve most likely spent much more time binge-watching TV shows or listening to music in the past few months than normal.

YouTube gives you suggestions on what to watch next based on your viewing history. If you want to step outside of your comfort zone, try searching for new videos in Incognito mode. That way, you’ll get a new perspective on entertainment that isn’t based on your past. You can do the same with your Google searches.

6. View a site as an outsider

Do you have your own website and want to see what it looks like to new visitors? You can check it out in Incognito mode for a fresh perspective.

There are many reasons to use Incognito mode, even though it might not be as private as you’d hope for. Take advantage of these ideas and you’ll never have to worry about ruining the surprise of a special anniversary gift again.

Staying safe online can quickly become complicated. From choosing strong passwords to being careful with what attachments you open to installing the right antivirus software, it’s easy to sink time and money into staying safe.

 [Source: This article was published in foxwilmington.com By KIM KOMANDO - Uploaded by the Association Member: James Gill]

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Live captions are an important part of the tech industry, and a big part of the reason why that is the case has to do with the fact that a lot of the people that are trying to use tech solutions are living with disabilities with hearing impairments being among the most common disabilities that people end up facing on a regular basis. Hence, a lot of tech companies have been working on live captions but the fact of the matter is that we haven’t seen anything quite like what Chrome has just done.

You see, the latest version of Chrome is going to feature support for live captions, marking the first time that a web browser has ever had anything of this nature all in all. Enabling the feature would make it so that you would start seeing a dedicated captions box, and any media that you play would start showing captions inside that box. This is useful because of the fact that not all companies emphasize live captions and making their technology accessible quite as much as they should be doing, and this is causing a lot of problems along the way.



If you want to toggle captions on then you need to start by having the latest version of Chrome Canary. Once you have the latest version, the next thing that you are going to have to do is type chrome://flags into the address bar, and when you see the option to search for flags put in “live captions”. A drop down menu will come up and if you select “enabled” all you would have to do is restart your browser and then you can start using the live captions. Once you have restarted the browser, go into accessibility section in your settings to switch them on or off and play any media to see if they are working properly.

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[Source: This article was published in digitalinformationworld.com By Zia Muhammad - Uploaded by the Association Member: Corey Parker]

Categorized in Search Engine

GOOGLE is the most popular search engine on the internet, with Microsoft's Bing a distant second. But which is better, and which is safer to use?

People can actually choose from more than 20 different search engines. Most, however, stick with the most popular search engines, particularly  (92 percent) and Bing (2.5 percent). Both Google and  Bing take online safety extremely seriously, making it very it very difficult to choose between them.

Google's sheer pervasiveness into the fabric of our everyday lives makes it very difficult to argue any other search is a credible challenger to its crown.

Google can help users narrow down what exactly they are looking for with specialised searches.

Users can browse through different categories pertaining to keywords, including: Images, Maps, News articles, Products or services you can purchase online, Videos and scholarly papers.

Like all search engines, Google uses a special algorithm to determine its search results.

And while Google shares some facts about its algorithm, the specifics are a company secret.

google-vs-bing-which-search-engine-better-is-google-or-bing-safer-2461895.jpg

Google vs Bing: The overwhelming majority of people stick with the most popular search engines - Google and Bing (Image: Getty)

This helps Google remain competitive with other search engines and reduces the chance of hackers discovering how to abuse the system.

Google uses automated programs called spiders or crawlers to help generate its search results.

What differentiates Google is how it ranks its results, which determines the order Google displays results on its search engine results pages.

The world-leading search engine uses the PageRank algorithm to assign each Web page a relevancy score.

A web page's PageRank depends on three main factors:

google-vs-bing-which-search-engine-better-is-google-or-bing-safer-2461896.jpg

Google vs Bing: Google can help users narrow down what exactly they are looking for with specialised searches (Image: Getty)

The most important factor is the number of other Web pages linking to the page in question.

Also, if the keyword appears only once within the body of a page, it will receive a low score for that keyword.

And the length of time a web page has existed ensures Google places more value on those with an established history.

Although Microsoft's Bing is also a search engine, it differs slightly to Google in the way it works.

But the way Bing works is relatively simple in comparison to Google.

Bing will scan all documents for the frequency of root words, meaning "running" will be shortened to "run" and will cut out the irrelevant words.

These frequencies are then given a hash value or an ID number.

So, when a term is typed into the search bar, the roots of the words are found, a hash value is calculated and found in a frequency table.

The outcomes that contain this result are called essential pages and only the highest-scoring pages will be chosen.

These pages then go through a second process called Click Distance.

Bing combines a page’s relevancy in addition to Click Distance – the number of mouse clicks it takes to find the content.

This is then analysed using URL depth property, with lengthier URLs considered less important due to their distance from the homepage.

So if a URL has numerous backslashes, Bing will not rank it, even if it is linked to from the homepage.

And although relevancy and click distance are important factors, Bing also factors a user’s search history when displaying search results.

Is Google or Bing safer?

Google Safe Browsing helps protect over four billion devices every day by showing warnings to users when they attempt to navigate to dangerous sites or download dangerous files.

Safe Browsing also notifies webmasters when their websites are compromised by malicious actors and helps them diagnose and resolve the problem so that their visitors stay safer.

Safe Browsing protections work across Google products and power safer browsing experiences across the Internet.

Google Chrome and other browsers use Safe Browsing to show users a warning message before they visit a dangerous site or download a harmful app.

Bing's SafeSearch helps keep adult content out of your search results.

There are three different ways you can turn on SafeSearch.

For individual accounts, choose SafeSearch options on the Settings page.

At a network level, map www.bing.com to strict.bing.com.

For an individual PC, map www.bing.com to strict.bing.com.

[Source: This article was published in express.co.uk By TOM FISH - Uploaded by the Association Member: Patrick Moore] 

Categorized in Search Engine
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