To simply put,
It keeps your browsing history & activities private ONLY from your computer but not the web itself.
Even me, a cyber security junkie use incognito mode for various reason, but when I do, I know exactly what I am doing. Now, lets get you in that pool too!
What people think it is?
People think, by browsing the internet using “Incognito” mode would hide their browsing activity. They also think, that everything they do is kept private starting from the websites they visit or even if someone is sitting with a “sniffer” trying to spy on what one browses.
Short answer — NO. It’s not.
So what exactly it does?
You know these things called “cookies” — not the snack! Its this thing in your browser that keeps track of what websites you visit, which link you click, your shopping cart, your travel details, login in details, simply every tiny thing. These cookies gets uploaded into your computer every time you are on the web.
So, using incognito mode simply deletes/blocks these cookies being stored on your local computer. It removes the traces of the browsing history, search history and other temporary files — only on your local computer and gives you the opportunity to sign-in into multiple accounts.
But there’s always a catch. This is what it is:
- Your IP address is not masked — it is visible to any network you are connected to! So your Internet Service Provider, your employer (if you are using from work, your government (duh!) or any websites you visit can still be tracked.
- There are tools available online that could easily be downloaded and used to spy on (by following the fool proof instructions). Anyone who wants to track what you are doing (yeah, stalkers) can sniff your browsing activities when connected to the same WiFi as you and sniff off details. This could easily be a cafe shop, public mall, movie theater etc. Using incognito, doesn’t mean squat there.
- When in “Incognito” make sure you are not logged into any of your accounts. That clearly defuses the purpose of using one. Your account will still track the activity and connect it back to you.
I am not saying Incognito is hopeless, I am merely pointing out what level of privacy it provides — or you can actually read when loading one next time!
How can you “more” achieve privacy?
a. Use VPN (Virtual Private Network) — a paid one at that. This ensures your activities remains anonymous and goes unrecorded (meaning, doesn’t tie back to you). More on this in a later article.
b. Using Tor based browser — this one has my personal OK. Built on a Mozilla Firefox based platform, this offers complete anonymity to your browsing activities. It uses a technique called onion routing to navigate its way into the internet. They route the traffic through multiple servers and encrypt it each step of the way.
c. Use DuckDuckGo — a browser specifically keeps your search history anonymous. It doesn’t display targeted ads so they don’t have reasons to track your browsing history. I have not personally used this, but I have heard only good things.
There. This is basically what “Incognito” mode is and the other options to protecting your privacy.
Share it with your friends and most of all, put in to practice.