Is incognito really private?

by Daniel Segun January 13, 2020


All popular browsers today come with a useful mode called “incognito”. It is easy to access. Generally, all you need is to open a new window in your browser. This mode is considered to be a useful tool, that is enabled to protect your private data. They say while web surfing incognito, your browser wouldn’t track your activity and store that information.

That means that all your searches, visited sites, passwords and cookies will not be saved in history after you close a browser. However, you can keep bookmarks and files you need to download.

So, what incognito does?

  • It deletes all the cookies when you close the browser;
  • It helps you keep your web history empty.

Perhaps you want to get information about medical treatment, and you’re not ready to discuss this topic with your family members who use the same computer. Or perhaps you’re going to make a surprise gift for your spouse and you don’t want to be revealed ahead of time. There’re a lot of reasons for keeping your online history private. And your browser can help.

But the more essential question is what incognito doesn’t do. It can’t hide your traffic from anyone interested. That means your Internet Service Provider, the government or your boss still have access to your private data. And it doesn’t guarantee the security of hacker attacks. That’s why an incognito mode sometimes considered to be useless. Let’s delve into this issue.

When can you use a private mode?

While web surfing, your browser can record your online activity. It saves it to your profile, that’s why you receive a particular advertisement, offers, context ad and so on.

Using an incognito browser mode, you can protect yourself from someone else’s attention. For example, all of us sometimes share our computer with others or use public computers for web surfing. Or imagine a situation when your friend needs to log in and you’re not going to save his data.

Besides, this mode can be a useful tool when you need to book something. It’s not a secret that a lot of flight companies or hotels can change their prices according to your device and various personal data. They can hike prices for popular dates. And if you hide it with a private mode, they will not have such an option, because they will not even know which dates you have checked.

You even don’t need to sign out of a service after you finish, all the cooking will be deleted automatically when you close the window. So you can be safe from maliciously or unintentionally accessing your data.

How to activate incognito mode

To start surfing in incognito mode, follow the next instruction:

  1. Open your web browser;
  2. Press “File”;
  3. Open “New Incognito Window” (it can be different depending on your browser).

And here you can also see the shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+N). The same option is available for Safari. Use Ctrl+Shift+P for Internet Explorer or Firefox.

Once you press this combination, you’ll see the next window:

Why isn’t it as private as you need?

After web surfing, simply close it and your local history is done. If needed, you can set this mode by default. Then your cookies will never be stored anywhere. To do this, you can play with your browser’s settings.

Why isn’t it as private as you need?

To understand how secure your private mode is, you need to understand what exactly does it work. And it obviously works only with your device, your traffic, and your history. This mode doesn’t replace or hide your IP address, it doesn’t create a shelter from third parties. That means your ISP, your sysadmin or any other who has access, can collect your browsing data and track your geolocation.

An interesting question is that almost no one said it would be different. For example, Google and Mozilla are totally upfront. Their users even receive notification about opportunities for this model. You can see it in the image above. Google warns that your activity might still be visible to your ISP, school or employer, websites you visit. However, Microsoft and Apple keep silent.

Besides, imagine a situation when you need to log into some online platforms, social media. Of course, they will know about it and from this moment your private thing becomes totally useless. This also applies to Google applications.

Thus, there are 5 controversial issues associated with the use of this mode:

  1. It can hide your data from a browser only;
  2. A private mode is the same as usual surfing when it comes to third-party intervention;
  3. It is your connection that makes it private, not browser;
  4. Your online activity is only deleted from your browser;
  5. It can be useful but not all the time.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use this mode at all or use it rarely. It means you should be careful. For example, you can’t rely on an incognito mode for various financial transactions. It would be a better choice to use a trusted VPN because public computers and wifi are always vulnerable. At least, it is better to use this browser’s mode then not to use, but try to avoid such cases. And, of course, you shouldn’t handle sensitive information without a VPN.

We have already touched on the topic of the VPN, so let’s look at alternative options.

A VPN is an answer

The simplest and safest way to ensure your online activities are really private is to install a VPN. When using this software, you can even forget about that incognito mode. Simply turn on your application or extension, and all of your online traffic is completely encrypted. It can be compared to a private tunnel that connects your smartphone or laptop and the VPN services.

Using a VPN, you can get rid of all those third parties, even the government, and your boss. They can’t see a single thing about your actions online. Besides, VPN software will replace your IP with its own which means websites no longer receive your data. They know nothing about you and they don’t bother you with their spammy offers. Now your Internet connection is totally anonymous.

You should also be ready for such a thing as customization. Google’s one is based on location. For example, if you’re located in Australia, even though you’re searching on (not, you’ll still get a lot of results from Australian websites. That’s because you own an Australian IP address. And a VPN will change your results because it replaces your IP and your geolocation. If you connect to a server in Germany, you’ll get localized German search results. They are still personalized but are not based on your real IP address.

Tor website

This is an anonymous network that passes your traffic through several random hosts before connecting you to the destination server. You can surf through Tor at least occasionally because the speed it provides you with it is not very impressive. But privacy measures can exceed your expectations.

The best combination ever

In case you want to guarantee yourself the complete safety, you should use incognito mode and the VPN at the same time. Why? Because they cope with different tasks.
Your browser with its nice mode will save your online history and personal data from someone else’s attention. And a VPN is necessary to get rid of various online spies, trackers, hackers.

That’s why it is important to leverage all opportunities available. When combined, these tools can provide you with a reliable guarantee.

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