Winners and losers | DuckDuckGo is a bless while viruses are bad jokes

I hope this article finds you happy with your Christmas celebrations and, above all, healthy and safe. As this is the last edition of the Winners and Losers column for 2021, I took the freedom of choosing two topics that represent the ups and downs areas of the year in technology: privacy and cybersecurity.

This week, the DuckDuckGo team announced that they are working on a desktop browser focused on robust privacy solutions, so they deserve to end the year as the winner of this edition. The Joker virus, found in a Play Store app with over half a million downloads, is the loser.

However, before we move on to the best and worst of the past seven days, check out some of NextPit’s top headlines from the past week below:

NextPit’s Tales: The nerd who wanted to ruin Christmas

Winner of the week: A truly private browser

If 2021 was the year that big tech companies decided to give us back the chance to be more private — Apple with App Tracking Transparency; Google with Privacy Dashboard and Android Private Compute Core — my expectation is that 2022 will be the year that our awareness about data privacy increases.

This week, the DuckDuckGo team announced that their privacy-focused desktop browser will be released in 2022, and it’s not based on Chromium. The idea is to support Windows and macOS, and even though the team uses rendering engines provided by these operating systems to build the browser (like WebKit), they will remove unnecessary items and make it as simple as possible to use the privacy tools.

According to the official announcement, the feature set should be similar to what we have today in DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser for mobile. And the highlight here is that it will be possible to use the default privacy settings, as we don’t have any marketing gimmicks. Also, with just one click it will be possible to quickly delete browsing activity and active tabs.

Moreover, internal tests have shown that DDG’s private browser proved to be faster than Chrome, which let’s agree is not really a surprise.

DuckDuckGo browser
DuckDuckGo promises to make private browsing extremely simple to use / © DuckDuckGo

Why is this the best news of the week in my eyes? Well, people avoid using what they don’t know or understand. By making browsing in private mode simpler, the DuckDuckGo team empowers users who avoid software with advanced settings and becomes another ally in the fight against the exploitation of our browsing data for marketing.

Loser of the week: The Joker virus

This year we also saw a massive amount of cyberattacks happening all the time. From Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to SMS phishing to malware, we had everything. And to close the year, this week we had the return of the Joker virus, found in the Color Message app for Android, which already had more than half a million installations.

The Joker virus is the ultimate bad joke / © Tero Vesalainen /

The Joker malware has been around for three years and has kidnapped quite a few apps already. According to my colleague Dustin Porth, this virus can cause damage by simulating clicks and logging you into premium services. This causes your mobile phone bill to skyrocket, and guess what? Unless the app operators reimburse you, you will lose money!

Luckily, the app has been removed from the Google Play Store, but it is probably not the last time we write about this type of malware. So this week the Joker virus is on the loser’s side and represents all the cyberattacks, Trojans and other malware we want to leave behind in 2022!

And that’s all for today! I wish you a happy new year and write you in 2022! But before saying goodbye, here’s a question for you: What did you think of this week’s picks? Share your opinion in the comments of this article.

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