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DuckDuckGo vs Google: A Security Comparison and How to Maximise Your Privacy

Posted on 14th December 2020 by FinXL

Privacy has become a major issue in today’s digitally reliant world. Every day we hear of new large-scale privacy breaches with leaks of email accounts, personal credentials, or private information. 

Much of the increase in these privacy concerns is centered around the rise of big data and big tech companies. Organisations have recognised the enormous value locked up in personal data. So they have created complex ecosystems to harvest as much personal data as possible that can either be used to directly increase sales or passed onto third party organisations to use in marketing to their customers. 

As a result of these moves, many people have legitimate concerns around: 

  • Hacks and data breaches

  • Selling of user data

  • Mismanagement of private information

  • Heightened feelings around invasion of personal privacy

  • Head to head on privacy

Because of these concerns, new players have emerged with a privacy focus that offer alternatives to the established big tech companies. One such option is DuckDuckGo, which offers privacy protected search functions as an alternative to Google. 

There is little disputing the effectiveness of Google’s search technologies, which revolutionised internet search. But DuckDuckGo and Google have two very different outlooks on privacy:

DuckDuckGo

Advantages

  • DuckDuckGo has been designed from the ground up to create a privacy-focussed environment where no IP addresses or user information is stored.

  • You can choose to search directly via the DuckDuckGo website or to integrate DuckDuckGo as an extension into Chrome. 

  • It includes no personalised ads or search results. This results in a very different search experience to that offered by Google and is much less “Big Brother” like. 

Disadvantages

  • DuckDuckGo still relies on advertising to generate revenue so you will still see visible ads in your searches. The difference however is that the ads aren’t personalised to the individual user. 

  • DuckDuckGo doesn’t include any protection from viruses, malware, ransomware, or other internet dangers.

Google

Advantages

  • Google is the leading search provider for a reason. Some users may still find Google’s search results are superior to DuckDuckGo.

  • Google Chrome can be further privacy optimised by launching ‘incognito’ browsers. 

  • Other privacy boosting features include the ability to change encryption options in settings to alter how data is collected or to select which online services Chrome uses. 

Disadvantages

  • Google’s default settings allow for the storage, tracking, and sale of personal user data to third parties. 

  • Can pull data from your private emails.

  • Similar to DuckDuckGo, Google Chrome is still susceptible to some viruses and malware.

Maximising your privacy

No search engine is perfect. DuckDuckGo is more secure than Google but Google can be altered to become more privacy friendly. Ultimately the decision about whether you use DuckDuckGo or Google will likely come down to how much you value your privacy vs how much benefit you get from Google’s broad and personalised ecosystem. 

If you do opt to use Google, take advantage of the privacy options it does include by being vigilant about cookies and other settings that allow you to maximise privacy. And whichever option you choose, you should also use them in conjunction with good anti-virus software to protect yourself and your devices from privacy and other threats. 

If you’re interested in learning how to boost your privacy and cybersecurity defenses, reach out to FinXL