3 Ways Incognito Mode Doesn't Protect Your Privacy
Article by George Norman
On 05 May 2017
There are many reasons to surf the web using Incognito (or Private Browsing) mode, with the main one being that you want to protect your privacy. The problem is that only part of your privacy is protected. There are things that Incognito Mode doesn’t do, and I am going to highlight them below. But first, a quick word about this browsing mode.

As long as you know how to clear your browser’s history, you don’t actually need to use Incognito mode. You see, that’s what this mode does: it tells the browser to stop tracking you. The websites you visit will be forgotten, your search history will be cleared, cookies and temp files won’t be saved.


That’s where Incognito Mode’s usefulness ends. It’s main use and the one thing it does to protect your privacy is that it tells the browser to forget about what you did online. This means you’re protected against a nosy spouse or partner who’ll check your browsing history, but you’re not protected against…

1. That same nosy spouse or partner

Incognito mode won’t save your browsing history, but it will save your bookmarks and downloads. So if you bookmarked a website in Incognito mode, that bookmark won’t magically go away when you’re done surfing the web. And if you downloaded some images, a few videos, or some other files, you’ll have to manually delete them when you’re done because Incognito mode won’t do that for you.

So if you have a nosy spouse who checks up on you, perhaps it would be best not to bookmark any website or webpage that might get you in trouble. And if you downloaded any files, make sure to delete them – permanently.

2. Hackers, trackers, even or your ISP

Using Incognito mode doesn’t make you invisible, others can still see what you do online. Hackers interested in stealing your data could snoop on your communications, websites interested in monitoring your activities can track what you do online, and your ISP knows everything that you do online (and as of recently, your ISP can even sell your browsing history without your consent).

To become invisible, you need to surf the web on an encrypted connection. And to do that, you need a VPN. VPNs encrypt your connection, protecting your communications against hackers, trackers, and other would-be snoopers. On top of that, VPNs hide your real IP address and spoof your real location.

If you don’t know what VPN application to get, here are few suggestions: Kaspersky Secure Connection, Avira Phantom VPN, SurfEasy, F-Secure Freedome, and TunnelBear.

Opera is based on Google’s Chromium open source project and features Incognito mode, just like Chrome, But unlike Chrome, Opera comes with a built-in and free VPN.

And since we’re talking about how other browsers are different from Chrome, I simply have to mention Tracking Protection in Firefox. While Chrome’s Incognito mode won’t protect you against trackers, Firefox’s Tracking Protection will. This feature will block and remove parts of the webpage that may track your browsing activity, help boost page load times, and even get rid of certain ads (the ones that track you).

3. Your grumpy boss

While some employers understand that taking a quick Facebook break or playing a game can actually boost productivity, there are other employers who consider these things a huge waste of time (although they aren’t).

If your boss monitors web traffic, Incognito mode won’t protect you – he’ll know what websites you visited and when. If your boss installed monitoring software, Incognito Mode won’t protect you – he can see everything that you do on your work PC. And if your boss blocked access to Facebook and other "time-wasting websites," Incognito mode won’t unlock access to these websites.

Perhaps it would be better to just work from home. But chances are that you won’t be any happier.

In related news…

Check out this article to learn how to enable Incognito and Private Browsing mode.

Tags: Incognito Mode, Private Browsing, Google, Chrome, Mozilla, Firefox, security, privacy, VPN
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
You can follow him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter

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