Google Chrome has been my web browser of choice ever since 2010, however recently I have had had some doubts related to tracking and wanted to investigate Epic as an alternative web browser to Chrome.
Google is Everywhere
If I want to browse the web I use Google Chrome, if I want to search the web I use Google search. If I want to find where I am going I use Google maps, If I want to launch a new business I use Google business.
Google Chrome knows where you are at all times
If you use the Chrome web browser then you are being tracked. Tracked in your internet history and tracked in your location. Google does this through third party tools and through accessing your phones location. How do I know this? Well I tested it by trial.
First I typed “my location” in to Google maps; my location within 100 metres was visible on the map, then I went to whereamirightnow.com where I could see my location again. This made me decide to turn off my location settings in Chrome as shown below.
What I found though is that my location was still discover-able after turning these off. How? My phones GPS is always turned on, the two tracking websites I tested were able to track me from my mobile. This got me thinking, Google or indeed anyone could have been tracking my location since 2010 and could have an almost perfect record of my activity for the past 6 years. Therefore, I turned off my GPS.
At this point I discovered that Googling “my location” still could pinpoint me but with much less accuracy, Google maps placed my location 6 miles away and whereamirightnow.com could not find me at all.
Time to change web browser
Although I don’t blame Google Chrome exclusively for this I do think it’s worth switching to a more secure web browser.
Blocking Trackers with Epic Web Browser
The Epic web browser website claims to protects you from over six hundred tracking attempts in an average browsing session. Installation of this browser proves this point by showing a popup on every website displaying the tracking attempts blocked.
The most shocking thing here is the sheer number of website using three or more trackers. whereamirightnow.com shown here has 12 trackers, I can understand the need for 2 or 3 but who is looking at the rest?
Epic In-browser Proxy
Epic has a handy little button in the top menu bar that allows you to hide your proxy and appear to be coming from a different location. This has been tested as shown below:
Test 1: Phone GPS off, using Epic browser, Proxy – off
Test 2: Phone GPS off, using Epic browser, Proxy-On
As can be seen, using the Epic browser with Proxy on, my location is now seen as down town New York.
Extreme measures to hide my location using a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, such as the Internet. It enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network.
A VPN may set you back around £5 a month it it is worth it to consider the benefits. From what I remember of my Computer Science degree they are virtually unhackable. I won’t go in to detail here about VPNs, I will just leave you with an image of my current location and a feeling of naive satisfaction that Google has no idea where I am.