StartPage or DuckDuckGo for Private Web Search
Due to news about snooping, spying, data collection and lack of privacy, many computer users are switching from using the Google search engine to a private search engine, such as StartPage or DuckDuckGo.
Private search engines do not keep a log of your computer’s IP address, your search queries, the website you came from, and the websites you click on in the search results.
StartPage Search Engine
With StartPage, SSL (https) encryption is enabled, and is made more secure by using Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) and Transport Layer Security (TLS). With PFS, each data transfer has its own encryption key. So, if a key is compromised, it cannot be used to decrypt other previously stored encrypted data. This keeps your search information private.
Once you complete a search, you get a list of search results. If you click on one of these results, the website will not know that you are the visitor, it will initially see StartPage as the visitor. But, if you then click a link on the website without using SSL, PFS or TLS, you will be visible to that website.
To maintain privacy, use the link in the search results that reads “View by Proxy”. StartPage will retrieve the website contents and display it for you. The website will only see the IP address for StartPage, not your computer’s IP address, and the website cannot see or store cookies on your web browser. The StartPage proxy service provides privacy and anonymity.
You can customize the StartPage settings and store them using a URL rather than using a cookie.
DuckDuckGo Search Engine
DuckDuckGo is another popular choice for many users for a private search engine. But, DuckDuckGo does not include the proxy service offered by StartPage. So, your web searches are private, but your web site visits are not private.
If you use Mozilla Firefox as your web browser, install the free add-ons for StartPage and DuckDuckGo. Then you can choose which search engine you want to use from the drop-down list in the search bar.
Test each one, do research, read reviews, and then make your own choice for a private search engine. Also, read our article on using a Domain Name System (DNS) that does not keep logs, so that Google or your Internet Service Provider (ISP) cannot track your website visits.