How to Stay Private Online: Is Incognito Mode Safe?

11.16.2020
How to Stay Private Online: Is Incognito Mode Safe?

When you’re browsing online, there are moments where you probably want to keep things private. Regardless of what you use a private or “incognito mode” browser, do you know how safe or private it actually is? You should always think twice before entering any personal or sensitive information even on a private web browser. In this blog post, we’re going to answer a few common questions about incognito mode and private browsers including if they’re safe and who has access to your incognito mode history? We’ll also cover what incognito mode is, what it does, along with some of the safety issues, features, and pros and cons. 


What Is Incognito Mode? 

Incognito mode is a private mode of your internet browser that decreases the tracks you leave behind while browsing the internet. In a nutshell, incognito mode erases temporary pieces of data usually captured by the device you’re using. Although different browsers like Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari all have slightly different versions of a private browser, most won’t retain things like cookies, search history, passwords, personally identifiable information, or browsing history. 


What Are the Advantages of Incognito Mode? 

There are a few key advantages to using incognito mode. Here are some of the most important ones. 


Incognito Mode Deletes Cookies

Cookies collect information about what different web pages you view and your various activities on those websites. They allow websites to retain your IP address, previous activity, and preferences. However, cookies also use that information to customize your internet browsing experience and help send you targeted advertising. Keep in mind that although incognito mode deletes cookies, which erases search history from the device you’re using, your activity is still being tracked by your internet service provider, the government, other third parties, and the websites you’ve visited. 


You Can Log Into Multiple Accounts At Once on the Same Device

Instead of having to consistently log out of one account and log into another, you can open multiple private mode tabs, making it easy to log into multiple accounts at once. Beyond that, if you’re using a shared computer, incognito mode won’t save your passwords or bookmarks, making it a good choice for keeping information private from others.


Incognito Mode Clears Your Browsing History 

If you’re shopping for a family member or researching a topic for work or school that you’d rather not disclose to the world, it’s helpful to be able to clear your search history. Incognito mode helps keep everything that you search for, private. Although websites and your internet provider, along with advertisers, will still be able to view your information, your history will not be stored on the device itself. 


What are the Disadvantages of Incognito Mode? 

Although all website browsers do their best to inform their users of the limitations of private browsing, according to one survey, the majority of people have a misunderstanding of what private browsing does. 53% use it to protect themselves from the websites they visit, which is not something private browsing actually does. Only 42% of the respondents claim to use it for its intended purpose, which is not leaving a trace on the computer used. These results emphasize the need to raise awareness of what private browsing can and cannot do. 


Who Can See Incognito Mode?

Incognito mode can erase data stored on your PC or device, but it can’t prevent your internet provider, advertisers, or the government from collecting data transmitted beyond your computer. Similarly, routers, firewalls, and proxy servers can still track your browsing activities. This means that the sites you visit will be able to see your data, and that there’s still a record of the sites you visited.


Is Incognito Mode Safe? 

As a recap, incognito mode is meant to prevent your browsing history from being saved on your device—that means no searches, visited sites, or cookies will show up on your device after you exit. You should view incognito mode as a pause button for your browsing history. This does not mean that what you do during incognito browsing is anonymous or that your personal information is hidden. 


In fact, most private or incognito browsers disable any browser add-ons automatically, even those that block traffic or add security and privacy. That means it’s actually sometimes easier for websites and companies to track your data while you’re in incognito mode. 


Plus, if you log into a website in an incognito browser, like Facebook or Instagram, that website will be able to view everything you’re doing and your account activity even after you close that tab. 


How to Further Protect Your Privacy Online

There are additional precautions that you can take to keep your information private and secure. The first is a reliable virtual private network (VPN). This conceals your IP address and traffic most of the time, which makes it harder for outsiders to see what websites you’re accessing. Next, remember how important it is to know where your data is being used (and for what). Alerts.com helps you stay in control of your private information by allowing you to track who has access to your information and how they are using it. 


In short, using an incognito browser is a good choice to make sure that whatever you’re doing isn’t trackable on your specific device. Keep the actual scope of an incognito browser in mind, and remember that not everything is private or anonymous. As long as you understand the uses and limitations of incognito mode, it can be a useful resource.



Category: Online Security

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