Turns out that snoopers can still see what you do on the Internet even when you open your browser in private/incognito mode.
Therefore, if you care about keeping your browsing activities away from prying eyes, it’s important to determine what incognito mode does and doesn’t do to protect your privacy. Also, you may want to know if there’s anything else you can do to surf the web without worrying somebody is looking over your shoulder.
What is incognito mode and what is it for?
When it comes to surfing the Internet, many people choose to do it privately by opening a private window on their browser.
Incognito, or private mode helps you hide your online history from people who have access to your computer or smartphone, as it keeps no records of your searches, login details, or page visits. All this information, except downloaded files and bookmarks, is gone forever once you finish your incognito session by closing the private window.
This feature is especially helpful if you use a public computer to log into your accounts or share your device with family members but don’t like the idea of them secretly checking your browsing history.
Also, if a friend asks to use your device even for a sec, it may be a good idea to open a new private tab/window, so that they can sign into their accounts without signing you out.
What’s more, if you try searching for flight tickets, hotel rooms or car rentals while in private mode, chances are you’ll get better prices than you normally get. The trick here is simple: private browsing doesn’t allow saving cookies, which are used by websites to identify their users. Therefore, when you browse incognito, the booking platform can’t remember whether you have checked their offers before and increase prices accordingly.
All popular browsers, including Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Microsoft Edge, have a private, or incognito mode, which is a helpful tool to keep your online activities to yourself. But before trusting the feature completely, make sure you are aware of its limitations of protecting your browsing activities.
Why your browser’s private window is not as private as you think
Many people use incognito mode for anonymous browsing, underestimating its limits and thinking that nobody can see what they do on the Internet. Unfortunately, this is only partly true.
While the private mode allows you accessing websites without keeping records of your browsing history, it doesn’t hide your activities from those who know your IP address. What it means, is that when you log in to Facebook, Gmail or anywhere else using a private window, these websites will know about it.
And they aren’t the only ones – private mode will not protect you from being monitored by your ISP (Internet Service Provider), marketers, and even from your snoopy boss or government if they for some reason decide to spy on you.
In other words, private mode protects your privacy locally, but can’t offer you any protection when it comes to online tracking based on your IP address.
So should you stop using private mode?
Of course not. Everyone should have the right to keep their online life private, and opening the incognito window on your favorite browser is a good start. This will ensure that the browser you’re using won’t keep records of whatever you are doing, so even if someone checks your browsing history, they won’t get anything.
The next step to make sure your communications are truly private is to conceal your IP address – the traitor that makes you visible online. This one is pretty easy – get yourself a reliable VPN (Virtual Private Network) and enable it every time you are about to go online. A VPN will hide your actual IP address and replace it with the IP of a remote VPN server. This way, anyone trying to track your online browsing habits using your IP won’t be able to do that.