Is incognito mode safe?

2024, Apr 10

You're probably familiar with this concept: when you need to look up something online without having your browser history recorded, you can open a private or "Incognito" window in your browser. .

Most modern browsers have a private browsing window feature. These Incognito windows are a great tool to avoid being tracked by low-level techniques. However, they are not a perfect solution and have caused much controversy about their effectiveness.
Recently, a lawsuit against Google brought this debate to the fore. It was alleged that Google's Incognito mode led users to believe they were browsing the web privately with Google, when in fact Incognito mode did not provide that level of protection. Google agreed to settle this lawsuit in April 2024 by agreeing to delete data collected from users when they use Incognito Mode.
What is incognito mode (or private browsing)?
Depending on the browser you use, this feature is often called Incognito mode or private browsing. This is a feature that allows you to open a browser window without saving any online activity, including Google searches, websites you've visited, passwords and any cookies. When you close a private window, all your browser activity is deleted without leaving a trace on your device. This means that anyone who uses your computer later won't be able to see what you viewed on your browser.
How does incognito mode work?
When you browse in a regular window, your web browser automatically stores data about your activity. This ranges from the websites you visit and log in to on various accounts to your download history and cached versions of websites you've visited before. This can be convenient because you don't need to log in to websites again and you can easily find previously visited websites. However, if someone else uses your computer, they can access your login email and see what you're looking for.
When you browse in a private window (e.g. Incognito mode), this concern goes away because private browsing doesn't store any of that information.
Is incognito mode safe?
Not completely. Chrome's Incognito window clearly indicates that your browser won't save your browsing history, cookies, and site data, and information entered into forms, but your downloads, bookmarks, and The reading list will still be saved. Your activity may still be visible to the websites you visit, as well as to your work or school and your Internet service provider.
All this makes hiding your browsing history from anyone else with access to your device great, but not much else.
Incognito mode lawsuit

In a notable event in April 2024, it was revealed that Google had agreed to settle a significant lawsuit by removing or deleting billions of browsing data records collected in Anonymous until December 2023. This agreement is part of the class action settlement in Brown v. Google, which began in 2020 and alleged that Google misled users by assume their activity is not tracked when they use Incognito mode. Google has also increased user disclosure about data collection in Incognito Mode and committed to allowing users to block third-party cookies over the next five years.
What does this mean for users?
This lawsuit and Google's subsequent adjustments highlight that Incognito mode is not the only way to protect your online privacy.
Users are encouraged to take additional steps to protect their privacy, like using a VPN extension on Chrome and carefully reviewing the settings they are using.
Does Incognito mode help protect against browser fingerprinting?
Cookies may still be the most common method of collecting information online, but browser fingerprinting is becoming increasingly popular.
With browser fingerprinting, the websites you visit can collect information about your browser, the fonts you have installed, and the browser add-ons or extensions that you use. you use. This information may be enough to detect you, even if you are careful about your privacy.
Although you cannot completely prevent websites from collecting your fingerprints, you can reduce the amount of information that websites can obtain from fingerprinting by switching to Stay anonymous and use a private browser window. Two more tips:
Run a popular browser that doesn't use default fonts or extensions, like Tor Browser.
Be careful with extensions because some extensions can be detected by the websites you visit. RICE VPN browser extension is safe to use even in Incognito mode.
Does private browsing prevent family members from seeing your browsing history?

Exactly. If someone else, like a family member or roommate, has access to your computer, an Incognito window can help you hide certain activities (like buying a birthday gift). ) from them. In fact, this can be a much better option than completely deleting your history, which can make things more tedious.
Does Incognito mode hide your IP address?
No, private browsing does not mask your IP address. Your internet service provider (ISP) can still collect the browsing activity associated with your IP address, and they could, in theory, hand it over to a third party if needed. A VPN replaces your IP address with another one shared by many users, so your ISP can't track your activity.
Does private browsing prevent your ISP from tracking your DNS records?
However, DNS servers can record your queries and sell them to advertisers or pass them on to law enforcement.
By default, your DNS service is provided by your ISP, but can be changed to a service maintained by Google. There are also free DNS services that promise not to transmit your information, like OpenNIC.
VPN providers like VPN RICE also maintain their own DNS service, which comes with the use of VPN. RICE VPN keeps no logs and does not pass any information on to advertisers.
  Does private browsing stop your work or school from tracking you?
Are not. If you use public Wi-Fi or connect to your school or work network, your administrator can see every website you visit. For websites that are not encrypted with HTTPS, they can even see the content of the website and all the information you exchange with that website.
Incognito windows do not protect your online browsing history from system administrators. A VPN will protect your browsing history from network administrators. However, be careful. If the computer you are using is not yours (such as a school or work computer), the owners of these devices may have installed other tracking software that will collect information even when you use VPN or Tor.
Incognito mode isn't exactly anonymous
While there are some great reasons to use Incognito mode—like hiding your browsing history from others using your computer, avoiding targeted ads, and reducing browser fingerprinting —but this mode doesn't offer complete privacy. The lawsuit against Google and the subsequent settlement serve as a reminder of the limitations of Incognito mode. It highlights the need for users to adopt additional security measures, such as adding a VPN to their security arsenal and paying attention to browser settings and extensions, to truly secure them. protect their online activity.
So should you use Incognito mode? Correct! Despite its shortcomings, there's no harm in enhancing your privacy with Incognito mode.

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