Ten simple, common-sense security tips

Security doesn’t have to be complicated, as shown by these quick and easy alternatives to the conventional wisdom on passwords, privacy, backups, ID theft, and other tech-safety matters.

Dennis O’Reilly | cnet

A friend took me to task last week for a post I wrote back in January on preventing Google from tracking you when you search. His alternative solution: “Just use Bing.”

That got me thinking about other no-brainer approaches to security that thumb their noses at the conventional (and often convoluted and time-consuming) advice of the experts.

Search without footprints via the ‘other’ search engines
Truly anonymous Web surfing requires the use of a VPN service that blocks your IP address as well as other personal information. (For more on VPN, see the tip below.) If you simply want to prevent a search from being recorded in your Google Web History, use a different search service.

Each search engine uses a unique mix of factors to find pages related to the terms you enter, which proves that there are many routes to the information you need. For an unscientific test, I used Google, Bing, and the Ixquick metasearch engine to look for three unrelated bits of info: the name of the mayor of Terre Haute, Ind.; nonstop airfares from New York to Paris; and the city in which Christopher Columbus died. (No, I’m not planning my next vacation.)

Note that Ixquick doesn’t record your IP address when you search.

Google and Bing listed Duke Bennett as the mayor of Terre Haute in their type-ahead suggestions, so I didn’t even have to press Enter to find the honorable Mr. Bennett’s name. The third entry in Ixquick’s first page of search results showed the mayor’s name in its summary.

As you might expect, the greatest disparity in results among the three search services in my informal test was the airfare query. Still, the top nonsponsored results returned by all three sites indicated comparable prices.

The ninth result summary returned by Google listed Valladolid, Spain, as the city in which Columbus died (on May 20, 1506, at the age of 55, by the way). The city’s name was shown in the third result summary returned by Bing, and the sixth served up by Ixquick.

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