Since the arrival of incognito mode, private window, private browsing or InPrivate, among many other nomenclatures, there has been some confusion about what it is capable of this browser feature. There are those who use it to browse ‘more protected’, so that the websites we visit are not saved in the history, or to ‘improve our privacy’.
However, the truth is that There are many myths about what incognito mode can and cannot do.. In this article we focus on explaining what this mode is, what it does and what it doesn’t, so that you are clear that browsing through incognito mode does not make you invulnerable to anything.
What is incognito mode and what does it protect us from?
The incognito mode or private browsing is a mode included in our browser that prevents the websites we visit from being recorded in the history. Also, when we turn it on, extensions that we haven’t expressly asked to work in conjunction with this mode will be disabled, tabs won’t be recoverable once closed, and bookmarks will continue to work as usual.
After its conception, there have been many doubts about this mode of navigation. It is no surprise that the vast majority of users who make use of it do so so that their compromised searches are not recorded, but there are also those who they mistakenly think it improves their security and privacy on the websomething understandable due to the great marketing campaigns around this type of modes.
When we open the incognito mode of Google Chrome, the company warns us that the browser will not store our browsing history, cookies and site data, and information entered into forms. In addition, in the latest versions we see how it is also possible to block third-party cookies so that they cannot track our activity on the site. However, it must also be made clear what this navigation mode does not do, and why doubts arise regarding it.
In this mode we are not armored
As mentioned from Chrome, our activity ‘may’ still be visible to the websites we visit, our business or school, and our internet service provider. Well, now let’s get that ‘it’s possible’ out of our heads; not a possibility, but a reality. Our IP address is not masked, and therefore activity will be logged and linked to that address for websites. In addition, we do not prevent the collection of information about our navigation for companies, ISPs, and others.
To go further, even Google itself collects our information and activity despite being in incognito mode. Proof of this is the subject of one of our recent articles, where we mentioned that Lorraine Twohill, director of marketing at Google, wrote an email to Sundar Pichai, the company’s CEO, asking to “make Incognito Mode really private”. In this way, it is clear that the only privacy that this mode grants is that our family at home does not know what websites we visit, and that the searches we do are not linked to our profile.
Firefox demystifies this mode by stating that private browsing does not mask our identity or activity online. Nor does it delete any trace of our activity, since the downloads we make in this mode will remain on the computer, as well as the bookmarks that we have added while we are in this mode. Along with this, it also makes it clear that private browsing will continue to show by default the suggestions of previously visited URLs outside this mode.
It also emphasizes that private browsing does not protect from malware. This is important, since many users believe that this mode will protect them from cyber attacks, phishing, and all kinds of malware. Nothing is further from reality, since our actions on the network continue to have consequences in this mode, of course.
What we can do to improve our privacy and security
If we want to improve our security and privacy on the web, the incognito mode of our browser is not going to help us much. For this, the best we can do is use tools to mask our IP address such as a VPN, always block third-party cookies from websites we visit, do not frequent fraudulent or suspicious websites, and make use of privacy-focused browsers that have these types of functions natively such as LibreWolf, Brave, Vivaldi, Tor, Firefox, etc.