For Web surfers tired of having their browser activities tracked and who want to make anonymous searches, the new Epic Privacy Browser from Hidden Reflex may be just the thing with the added bonus of some faster download speeds.
The browser, free to download, proxies all search requests so they can't be traced back to actual source IP addresses, and it has a one-click proxy feature that can invoke the same proxy for any other type of browser activity, according to Alok Bhardwaj, founder and CEO of Hidden Reflex.
The browser won't accept third-party cookies and blocks trackers as well as ads, which often include trackers. The average Web page contains six trackers, he says, with some having up to 40. A side benefit of blocking them is faster download speeds from some sites because without ads and trackers less information is downloaded to build pages, Bhardwaj says.
Epic blocks referer data sent to search engines to prevent those engines from gathering and selling the data to advertisers.
But it's hard to prevent all referer data from being mined because it's actually needed for desired functionality. "This is an example of where privacy is really hard to do as comprehensively as we'd like," he says, "when we block all referers for all sites then the Internet effectively breaks as tons of e-commerce, banking and other sites base authentication on the referer data."
Epic is based on the open-source code Chromium, the underpinnings of the Google Chrome browser. In Epic, all Google tracking and Web services are removed, Bhardwaj says. Those services include auto-translate, address bar suggest, spell-check, URL check, malware check and home sync.
None of a users' browsing traffic passes through Hidden Reflex servers so it has no record of where users have browsed to. Services such as address-bar auto-fill are handled locally, he says.
Since Epic purges stored data when the browser closes it loses some conveniences such as login cookies that would automatically log users in to sites they've visited before. "Epic is by default in a rather extreme private browsing mode," Bhardwaj says. "At least one reason for this is that in the past there have been bugs that exposed your entire browsing history and more."
Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.
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