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Incognito Mode: Not Really Private Browsing

If you thought you were safe from all the threats that await you online by enabling incognito mode, you are thoroughly mistaken. There is this misconception that the incognito mode feature in browsers will give users the ability to become invisible online. To learn more about private browsing and how you can actually secure yourself online, read on.

What does Private Browsing Actually Do?

In theory, private browsing allows internet users to browse the internet without storing any data regarding their activities locally. The purpose of this offering is to ensure users’ confidential and sensitive information does not fall in the wrong hands. This function can only work if the browser being used does not store and disposes of cached items, cookies, and history entries.

Most popular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer comes with a private browsing feature. These browsers use terms like ‘stealth mode’ or ‘incognito mode’ to make internet users feel as though they are off the grid, but there is more to it than meets the eye.

Of course, private browsing makes it easier for users to protect their information from other people using their device(s), but their information is still stored in hidden caches. These temporary storage spaces can be accessed. If that is not enough, some data may still exist in flash cookies, plug-ins and DNS logs, none of which are addressed by the private browsing feature.

What Private Browsing Doesn’t Do

Agreed, private browsing does prevent your web browser from storing your private and confidential data, to some extent at least, it will be of little to no use against snoopers. Basically, if your computer is connected to your work network, you can still be tracked by the system administrators even if you have enabled incognito mode.

On the other hand, if your computer or device has been compromised by keylogger malware or spyware, then hackers will still be able to monitor your online activities. Private browsing may have its benefits, but you cannot depend on it solely to ensure you remain secure and anonymous online.

Enabling Private Browsing

Every browser has its own name for private browsing, and accessing it is more or less the same across the board, the differences are subtle though. If you want to learn about enabling private browsing, then you have come to the right place.

  • Google Chrome

For Windows and Mac, all you need to do is to access the special menu in the top right corner of the browser. Simply select, ‘New Incognito Window’. You can also use Command+Shift+N on a Mac or Control+Shift+N instead.

For Android and iOS, tap the three dots located on the top right corner of the browser. Now simply select ‘New Incognito Tab’.

  • Mozilla Firefox

Access the drop-down menu by clicking the menu from the top right corner of the browser, and then select ‘New Private Window’. You can also use Command+Shift+N on a Mac or Control+Shift+N on Windows instead.

  • Internet Explorer

Click the gear icon located on the top right corner of the browser, then click Safety>InPrivate Browsing. If that does not work for you, press Control+Shift+P instead.

  • Microsoft Edge

Access the menu located on the top right corner of the browser, select ‘New InPrivate Window’. Or simply press Control+Shift+P instead.

  • Safari

You can access ‘Private Window’ from the File menu, or just press Shift+Command+N on your keyboard.

For your iPad or iPhone, you will need to tap the tab icon located on the lower-right corner of the screen, after which you will need to tap ‘Private’.  

How to Actually Browse Privately

Seeing how ineffective incognito mode really is at keeping you safe and secure online, you will need to take things into your own hands. If not, you can always count on a good VPN to make you invisible online.

How a VPN works is that it assigns a new IP address, hiding your existing one. By doing so, and encrypting your internet traffic at the same time, it will be impossible for hackers, cybercriminals and third-party agencies to monitor or attain your private and confidential information.

With a reliable VPN, you will also be able to access any and all content online, because you will be connecting to servers around the globe after all.

Never again will you have to worry about being monitored or becoming a victim of data theft with a VPN. The good news is that VPNs have apps for all major platforms and browsers, so your devices will be safe and sound as long as you are connected to a VPN server. With features like Internet Kill Switch, you will never have to worry about leaks either.

If you truly value your internet security and privacy, then you should definitely use a VPN at all times!

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