Tech Insight : What Is DuckDuckGo?

In this tech insight, we look at what DuckDuckGo is, what features it offers, and why businesses may consider using it.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is a privacy-centred search engine / privacy browsing app, which is available as a download for mobile devices and a Chrome extension. The company, founded in 2008, also plans to launch a desktop browser for macOS laptops and desktops soon.

Most Downloaded Browsing App On Android

In a recent blog post, DuckDuckGo’s CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, said of the search engine’s popularity, “We’re now the most downloaded browsing app on Android in our major markets (and #2 on iOS behind Chrome), we’re averaging more than 100 million searches a day, and our most recent survey showed 27 million Americans (9 per cent) use DuckDuckGo.”

Privacy

DuckDuckGo retains a user’s privacy by not saving the user’s browser history, forcing sites to use encrypted connections, blocking cookies and trackers (including ‘hidden trackers’ before they load), and by stopping a user’s searches being sold to third parties for profiling and advertising.

DuckDuckGo uses Smarter Encryption which utilises a list of millions of HTTPS-encrypted websites, which has been generated by continuous crawling the of the web instead of crowdsourcing, thereby keeping it current. Also, DuckDuckGo’s Smarter Encryption enables users to be extra-secure in their browsing by being able to detect unencrypted, non-secure HTTP connections to websites and then automatically upgrading them to encrypted connections.

Features

Some of the extra features recently announced by DuckDuckGo include:

– A beta release of Email Protection, a free email forwarding service that removes trackers in a user’s email and protects the privacy of a personal email address without asking the user to change email providers.

– A new App Tracking Protection (beta) feature in the Android app that blocks third-party trackers like Google and Facebook lurking in other apps.

– A revamped search results page.

– New animation options to the “Fire Button”, the button used to clear all tabs and browsing data with one tap.

– The addition of a “Fireproofing” prompt which gives users the choice to keep certain sites logged-in between Fire Button burns.

Partnership With EFF Helps HTTPS Everywhere Extension

Also, a recent partnership formed with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in April 2021 has lent DuckDuckGo’s Smarter Encryption rule sets to the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension, thereby giving it extra security. This extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera encrypts user communications with many major websites.

Other Private Browsers

Other private browsers and search engines include:

– Epic Privacy Browser.  This is a secure web browser that blocks ads, trackers, fingerprinting, crypto mining, ultrasound, signalling, and offers free VPN (servers in 8 countries).

– Tor.  This browser uses a distributed network (randomly selected nodes) to anonymise the user’s IP address. Tor also encrypts traffic.  This makes it incredibly difficult for a user’s web traffic to be traced and very difficult for users to be tracked unless they reveal their IP address by enabling some browser plugins, downloading torrents, or opening documents downloaded using Tor.

– Brave. This is a free, open-source web browser, based on Chromium that blocks ads and trackers and allows users to use a Tor in a tab to hide history, and mask location from the sites a user visits by routing a user’s browsing through several servers before it reaches its destination.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Not every user wants a high level of privacy for most daily use, but for business users, the security of knowing that you’re not being tracked and that there is a high level of privacy protection by default may be an attractive and useful part of company security measures. Also, using a trusted app/extension/desktop browser may be a highly convenient way to get greater peace of mind and ensure that all reasonable measures are being taken to cover the many angles of security and privacy.  For many businesses, it’s likely to be a case of a combination of privacy solutions, e.g., VPNs and secure browsers being used as and when required in a way that is compatible with daily working practices, authorised, approved, and recommended by the company and other relevant stakeholders.

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