It’s happened to all of us: you spend ten minutes reading about the latest diet trend online and next thing you know, Google ads are telling you to lose weight for weeks. Obnoxious ads using cookies are just one reason that Internet users are concerned about the information being shared by mainstream browsers and search engines—the main concern, of course, is the lack of privacy provided by our current Internet structure.
Fortunately, you’re not the only one frustrated by this. There are enough techies who have gotten fed up with the lack of Internet privacy that there are many efforts to create alternative Internet browsers and search engines focused on privacy. If you’re new to the private Internet, this beginner’s guide is for you.
Tor Browser: When it comes to private Internet, Tor is the most popular of the anonymous browsers. Tor runs on top of the Mozilla browser while keeping all browser usage private. As Facebook has recently lent its services to Tor users via the facebook.onion URL, Tor has received even more attention as a user-friendly browser.
JonDoFox: JonDoFox is an anonymous profile that runs on the Mozilla Firefox browser. For anonymous use, this browser tool also requires an IP changer proxy (like the proxy tool JonDo or the Tor Onion Router).
SRWare Iron: Based on the Chromium source, SRWare Iron provides all the features of Chrome without the privacy risks.
Our Choice: Tor Browser. It’s the most well-known and has the best reputation. In fact, DigiCert is the Certificate Authority who secures facebook.onion, Facebook’s .onion address, which allows anonymous use of Facebook.
Private Search Engines
DuckDuckGo: As far as alternative search engines go, DuckDuckGo has nailed the simplicity, accuracy, and privacy that today’s Internet users are looking for in a search engine. In addition to all the features of the search engine itself, DuckDuckGo offers an online community where users can offer feedback.
Startpage: A private search engine created by Ixquick that utilizes Google’s search results while protecting the user’s identity, including IP addresses and tracking cookies. All personal information is kept private and secure with Startpage.
Disconnect Search: Unlike the other two options, Disconnect Search is an anonymous VPN service that works with popular search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. It allows users to get the most of the most popular search engines without the invasion of privacy.
Our Choice: DuckDuckGo. This search engine has been added as a built-in option with both Mozilla and Safari browsers. In early 2014, DuckDuckGo hit a benchmark of 5 million direct searches in one day. After only 7 years in business, DuckDuckGo has established itself as a trusted search engine.
Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe
While these alternative Internet tools are great at helping users to maintain their privacy rights, that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down while using them. Users should still use their best security practices—always checking the certificate validation of the sites they are using before entering any personal information and not downloading any software content that hasn’t first been scanned—even while surfing the net privately.