The Incognito mode in Google Chrome and other popular web browsing software is something that has quickly gained popularity. There are several benefits that it has to offer to all kinds of browser users. However, incognito doesn’t really mean completely secure and many people misunderstand what it can and cannot do.
What Doesn’t Incognito Mode Protect Against?
For example, it cannot bypass the network restrictions posed by your university or office so you won’t be able to browse the banned websites on incognito. Similarly, making use of incognito mode to surf and download files has its own considerations. So, let us look at all the important things you should know about incognito mode before you start using it.
Where Can Incognito Mode be Useful?
If you have some idea of how the internet works then you will know that your online activity is always tracked. The Incognito mode allows you the option of preventing your activities from being tracked in a general sense.
What this means is that whatever you do in incognito mode will not be remembered by your device. However, there are a number of limitations that come with incognito mode and it is essential to know them.
Downloads and Bookmarks
The incognito mode on any browser only works to not record your browsing history. It does nothing for your manually downloaded data. So, if you download anything while in incognito mode, the file will still be on your hard drive once you log out. Incognito mode does not prevent downloads or delete them automatically, you will need to do this on your own.
The same goes for any kind of bookmarks you save. They will also need to be deleted manually. So, if you want to keep your online activity private, covering your download and bookmark tracks is mandatory due diligence.
Online Privacy and Tracking
It is true that Incognito mode prevents your browser from tracking your activity by not reading cookies. But the mode only prevents browser tracking and there are several others who might be watching your actions. Every time you go online, your ISP is aware of your activity. Aside from that, you might also be tracked through previously installed cookies. In some cases, the NSA has been known to track internet users on a sizeable scale. The Incognito mode will not hide you from any of this. It will also not delete any cookies already on your system. You will need to do that individually.
Unless you have a tech-savvy family member spying on your browsing history, incognito mode is sufficient to keep them clueless. Since using incognito mode stops the browser from making a history, your family can’t look up what you did. However, this is not the same as a tracking software.
If your parents installed a tracking software, then you cannot trust the incognito mode to hide your activity. And while they track you only to keep you safe online, you should know how to circumvent the tracking if needed.
A lot of workplaces have a strict anti-social media policy. There is a debate on whether a 5-minute Facebook browse can be productive or not. But if your boss has a tracking software installed or social media sites blocked, then incognito will not help.
In fact, if your office has any such policy, then it is best to avoid inviting trouble with the higher-ups. With that said, there are ways you can circumvent tracking/blocking and it does not harm to know what they are.
If you do not frequent the cybersecurity circles then browser fingerprinting might be a new term for you. This new method of tracking internet users is quickly rising in popularity. Basically, browser fingerprinting is a record of the state of your browser at any given moment. This includes all types of add-ons and extensions you might have installed. While this is not an accurate measure of any internet user, it can use be used for tracking.
Incognito mode prevents browser fingerprinting altogether by keeping your browsing activity private. So it can work for this kind of tracking but not for more sophisticated methods.
DNS or Domain Name Server based tracking is one of the most popular methods of online tracking. In principle, it is an effective means of ensuring a smooth browsing process. However, it also opens users up to all kinds of tracking. It is not uncommon for DNS to be used to track the online shopping preferences of users.
How Can I Improve My Online Privacy and Security?
Incognito is just the starting point for any person concerned with their online privacy. There are always new threats emerging in the market and powerful countermeasures being developed in response.
One of the most important privacy software in the market at the moment are VPNs. Virtual Private Networks will perform virtually all the functions that we have mentioned above that Incognito does not do. It is already used by countless individuals as well as business enterprises and government bodies around the world.
As such there are also varieties of VPNs in the market depending on what you are going to use them for. For example, gaming consoles have their own dedicated VPNs and some routers these days come with preinstalled VPN. You will need to browse the market and make the right selection for your purposes.