A deep dive into DuckDuckGo’s security and privacy: Is it safe to use?

A deep dive into DuckDuckGo’s security and privacy: Is it safe to use?

January 27, 2024 privacy 0
DuckDuckGo is a search engine lauded by online security and privacy enthusiasts. The platform stands out in its stringent privacy policies that benefit the user and transparency on how the user data is handled. After thoroughly inspecting DuckDuckGo’s privacy policies, we provide a breakdown of its strengths and limitations, as well as tips to boost your online security while using this search engine.

Contents Is DuckDuckGo safe? Proof that DuckDuckGo is safe What are the downsides of DuckDuckGo? Which is safer: Google or DuckDuckGo? How to increase your privacy and security on DuckDuckGo Summary FAQ
Is DuckDuckGo safe?

DuckDuckGo is a private search engine considered a safer option for online browsing than other mainstream search engines. DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect your data or profile you according to your search patterns. It also doesn’t use tracking cookies or sell user information to third parties and claims to use only minimal necessary amounts of user data to conduct its operations. Though DuckDuckGo can provide you with more online privacy than other popular search engines, it has its limitations. Like most search engines, DuckDuckGo tries to filter out potentially dangerous sites from its search results, but it cannot guarantee complete protection against malware-ridden websites or content. This means you can still land on a webpage infected with malware or containing intrusive trackers while using DuckDuckGo.

Proof that DuckDuckGo is safe

DuckDuckGo proves it’s a secure search engine because it follows stringent security policies to keep user data as private as possible. These policies include not sharing your browsing history and personal information with third parties, abstaining from using tracking cookies, and being generally transparent about how your data is being used. Take a closer look at the reasons why DuckDuckGo can be considered a safe search engine. They don’t save or share your browsing history DuckDuckGo ensures that information related to your search queries remains private and doesn’t fall into the hands of online content providers. For this purpose, the search engine sends you search requests from the DuckDuckGo servers to the web pages on your behalf. This means that none of the websites that correspond to your online queries know you were the one who was interested in a particular subject. Once DuckDuckGo receives the content you requested, it delivers it using an end-to-end encrypted connection. The platform claims to save anonymized search queries to analyze popular searches and trends and serve more relevant content to its users. DuckDuckGo thought further of how they can provide you with an additional layer of privacy and created a solution to spoof your precise location so they can only see the approximate location of all searches. Moreover, these approximate locations are logged nowhere on their servers. Because DuckDuckGo doesn’t track your browsing history or associate your searches with your IP address, you avoid being bombarded with personalized ads and can enjoy unbiased search results. They don’t sell your personal information To quote DuckDuckGo’s policy regarding selling user data, “We have never sold any personal information. Period.” This pretty much sums it up. They’re transparent on how they use information Whenever you visit DuckDuckGo, your device automatically sends information about itself to facilitate a smooth connection. This information typically includes your IP address, browser type, and language, sometimes also the device’s screen size, operating system, and preferences. However, DuckDuckGo uses this information only temporarily to confirm you’re not a bot and deliver you the content you want to access. The search engine is strict about not sharing your IP address or other unique identifiers related to you or your device with the websites you visit. On the other hand, you might be asked to share additional personal information whenever you intend to use DuckDuckGo’s optional features, such as Email Protection. The search engine claims to require only information necessary for the feature to function and uses it for this sole purpose. In addition, the platform always informs users about the specific data they need to provide in order to use a special feature, explaining how this information will be handled and how the user can opt out. They don’t track you through cookies DuckDuckGo allows you to configure your search settings so that the search engine only uses anonymous cookies for storage. It also enables you to change all the search settings through anonymous URL parameters. The platform may sometimes need to use your browser’s storage to conduct anonymous setting changes or the device’s local storage to save anonymous display settings. However, DuckDuckGo claims it never stores any information that could help identify you and your searches. The search engine uses only the necessary storage to allow particular features to perform properly. They protect and limit the use of your data DuckDuckGo claims to strictly limit the use of the personal data you provide to the platform by keeping it only for as long as it’s necessary to run a particular feature or fulfill your request. When the information is no longer required, and the law doesn’t bind to hold it for a more extended period of time, it’s deleted. Moreover, DuckDuckGo cannot provide your search or browsing histories following third-party requests because the search engine simply doesn’t log them. Apple considered switching from Google Apple is known for being a privacy-focused company largely because it pays a lot of attention to its products’ security and offers various encryption and sensitive data storage solutions. To bring security to the next level, Apple once considered using DuckDuckGo instead of Google as the default search engine for private browsing mode. Apple and DuckDuckGo held around 20 meetings discussing this cooperation over the course of three years (2016-2019). However, due to DuckDuckGo’s ties with Apple’s competitor Microsoft, the companies didn’t reach an agreement. {SHORTCODES.blogRelatedArticles}

What are the downsides of DuckDuckGo?

Though DuckDuckGo is safer than other mainstream search engines, it has its limitations. While it spoofs search queries from third parties, your internet service provider (ISP) can still see that you’re using the search engine. It also cannot protect you if you ever land on a malicious website. Read on to learn more about the shortcomings of DuckDuckGo. Your ISP still sees your IP address Though DuckDuckGo takes precautions not to reveal your IP address to third parties online, it cannot disguise it from your ISP. All information going back and forth between your device and the internet needs to be routed through your device’s IP address, which means the search engine cannot prevent internet providers from seeing you’re using it. However, DuckDuckGo ensures that your ISP can only see that you’re connecting to the search engine itself, not your search queries. You’re not protected on other websites DuckDuckGo helps you securely navigate the internet to find the content you’re interested in. However, its protection ends once you access a particular website. From that moment on, privacy policies set by a web page owner begin to apply. It means DuckDuckGo cannot protect you from trackers and intrusive ads when you access other websites and apps through it. You’re still prone to malware risks As with any other online tool, DuckDuckGo is susceptible to viruses, malware, and other online threats that may hide behind legitimately looking websites or links. Though DucDuckGo attempts to filter malicious search results, no search engine can guarantee complete protection against harmful websites. Blemish on reputation: Microsoft trackers In 2022, reports emerged that DuckDuckGo wasn’t blocking trackers from certain Microsoft-owned platforms, including Bing and LinkedIn, due to the newly established partnership with the company. However, in August of the same 2022, DuckDuckGo claimed to have eliminated the gap in the company’s partnership agreement and assured that the platform doesn’t allow Microsoft to use tracking scripts. Since then, a number of independent experts have confirmed this to be true. DuckDuckGo also has a separate advertising partnership with Microsoft, which enables the latter to place its ads within the search engine. However, this partnership is limited to ad placement and doesn’t enable Microsoft to build user profiles based on ad clicks.

Which is safer: Google or DuckDuckGo?

It’s generally agreed that DuckDuckGo is a safer and more private search engine than Google. DuckDuckGo offers a more transparent search experience since it doesn’t track or log your search queries and doesn’t profile you depending on them. It means you get unbiased search results whenever you use DuckDuckGo to search for something online. In fact, since DuckDuckGo doesn’t track its users, nobody knows how many people actually use this browser. It’s an entirely different story with Google. It profiles users and provides search results tailored to reflect their search history. Though convenient at times, it may also lead to dozens of irrelevant ads following you after every search query. That’s why you should consider using DuckDuckGo or other alternatives to Google if you aim for more privacy online.

How to increase your privacy and security on DuckDuckGo

Though it’s a valuable tool for safe searching online, the protection offered by DuckDuckGo is limited. If you want to be proactive while securing your connections, you should consider using the search engine in combination with a virtual private network (VPN). Whenever you use a VPN, it reroutes your online traffic through a VPN server, encrypts your data, and hides your IP address from both third parties and your ISP. This means no one can snoop around your online activities, even various service providers. For a safer online presence, you should also consider using an anti-malware protection tool, such as Threat Protection. It blocks malicious websites, web trackers, and annoying ads before they get a chance to load on your device. So even if your search on DuckDuckGo leads you to a malicious website, you’ll be notified and protected from possible damage.


DuckDuckGo is a secure alternative to mainstream search engines, providing more privacy and allowing you to browse the internet safely. It doesn’t track your search history or create your user profile according to your online activity. The platform is transparent about how it uses and collects your data and ensures it won’t get into the hands of third parties. However, DuckDuckGo provides security only when you’re using the search engine. Once you decide to visit a particular website, you are subject to a new set of policies that may be less focused on your privacy. Moreover, DuckDuckGo cannot save you from landing on malicious websites or downloading malware. Despite its limitations, DuckDuckGo is a secure search engine for those who want to enjoy more privacy online. Visit our blog if you’re interested to learn more about some of the best private search engines.

DuckDuckGo is not a VPN, it just doesn’t track you in the same way that Google does. It’s also worth noting that Google’s Incognito Mode doesn’t make you fully private when browsing online.

If you want to browse the internet safely, combine DuckDuckGo with a VPN. It will encrypt your traffic and protect your IP address, making you less traceable online. ), }, { question: ‘How does DuckDuckGo make money?’, answer: ( DuckDuckGo still has to monetize its operations, and for that, it uses ads based on keywords you type in. If you search for “cat food,” the ads on DuckDuckGo’s search page may reflect that. However, the service won’t remember that you looked up cat food once you navigate to a new page.

It also uses affiliate codes and earns commissions when a user buys a product after searching through DuckDuckGo or their advertising content. ), }, { question: ‘Does DuckDuckGo track you?’, answer: ( DuckDuckGo doesn’t track your activity in any way. The platform doesn’t save or share your search history with anyone and only uses anonymous cookies for storage. ), }, { question: ‘Is DuckDuckGo really private?’, answer: ( DuckDuckGo provides an additional layer of privacy by not tracking your online activities or letting third parties do that, either. However, the search engine cannot prohibit the websites you visit from tracking you once you land on them. This said, DuckDuckGo only provides you with more privacy when you are using it. ), }, ]} />

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