Friday, May 11, 2018

Which browser and search engine are the best for privacy?

I get this question all the time. As a privacy advocate I appreciate that most users want to avoid having every interaction on the Internet being tracked and recorded. The truth is that if you really want to avoid all the tracking technology, you will need to take additional steps beyond changing your browser and search engine. Even so, it is an excellent and easy start. The less trail of cookie crumbs that lead back to us the better. 

Here are my suggestions:


The browser built for privacy is the TOR browser. Because all of your web surfing traffic is encrypted and anonymized, it can be slower than other browsers. Your IP address can be used to identify you, and this browser does address that concern. Even so, you may discover websites that block you from viewing them when using the TOR browser. Chances are you will need to use another browser besides TOR from time to time.

Firefox is a non-profit that creates the browser that TOR uses as its base. If TOR is not for you, then use Firefox. Install add-ons such as HTTP Everywhere, UblockOrigin, Noscript, and Disconnect. These add-ons will make web surfing with Firefox even more private and secure. Unlike TOR, with Firefox your IP address will not be anonymized.

If you love Chrome but want privacy, then you must stop using Chrome and switch to Iridium. Chrome is actually an open source project fork from the Chromium browser but both are funded by Google. That means that Chrome and Chromium track your Internet activity and send the telemetry back to Google. The Iridium browser starts as Chromium but all of the Google tracking is stripped out and what is left is a "Chrome" like browser without Google spying. Like Firefox, your IP address will not be anonymized.

Configuring Firefox and Iridium is also critical. You want to avoid third party cookies and as much browsing history as possible. Go through the settings and allow only those cookies you absolutely need and configure the history to be erased upon closing the browser.

Search Engine

DuckDuckGo and Startpage are both excellent choices for search engines. Neither maintain records of your search requests. They both encrypt your connection so your ISP can't view your inquiries either.

Next Step
When you are ready the next step in your journey to better privacy is using a VPN and changing your DNS provider. I will cover that in a future post.