Browsing Privately: Everything You Need to Know About Incognito Mode

Today, our smartphones are a vital tool we use on a daily basis for pretty much everything, including searching for stuff online. Yet, as vital as they are, our devices are also privacy nightmares. If you fail to take proper precautions, you can literally expose your entire online activity to unwitting friends or family members who use your device and end up in the wrong app or folder. This is when your privacy is really not so private anymore. 

Thankfully, the tech community has come up with numerous ways to help Internet users protect their privacy as much as possible. Screen locks, VPNs, two-factor authentication, and others are just a few examples. One more popular strategy developed by tech wizards to help people use the Internet securely is the mysteriously named “incognito mode”. 

Now, every Internet browser has a private mode that helps you keep your web browsing secret. However, the privacy offered has its limits, and you should be aware of that. 

Want to find out if you are really anonymous when using incognito mode? Keep reading below! This article explores what Incognito mode is, how it works, and what are its limits. 

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/FnA5pAzqhMM

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Incognito Mode explained 

First things first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with what this mysterious Incognito mode is. 

No matter what browser you use, be it Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, you name it, it almost certainly has an incognito or private mode feature. This feature is designed to help you keep your browsing history private. 

More precisely, incognito mode makes sure that none of your cookies, site data, browsing history, or data you enter in online forms are saved on your device. This also means that your activity won’t show up in your search engine browser. So, even if someone else uses your device, they won’t see your activity. 

Simply put, the easiest way to understand how incognito mode works is to imagine that as soon as you close the incognito window, your web browser forgets everything about your search session. This means that once you close the incognito mode window, the cookies created are wiped, and so is the browsing history.

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This is basically the anonymity that the private mode feature helps you with. Whenever you start browsing on your browser again, even if you don’t use the feature the next time you search on the Internet, it’s like you’re starting again with a blank slate. For example, if you load up certain websites such as Gmail or Twitter or Facebook, the sites won’t automatically log you in as they normally do. One reason for that is that the authentication data you used to log in when you’re browsed using the private mode feature was deleted the moment you’ve closed the browsing window. 

Pros and Cons of Incognito Mode 

When you use the incognito mode feature to browse the Internet, the browser won’t remember anything. It won’t keep track of where you’ve been, what you’ve searched for, or the information you’ve entered to access certain pages. This is a huge plus and a handy tool to help you keep your privacy safe. However, the private mode also has some limitations that leave you exposed to some security risks. Let’s explore the pros and cons of the incognito mode: 

Pros 

There are some security benefits of using incognito mode, including: 

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  • Protection when using public networks: You can use public networks more safely since all your browsing data is cleared the moment you close the window.  
  • It’s a cheap security measure: There are no costs involved in using the private mode. This feature is installed by default in most browsers out there. So, you don’t have to pay for this as an extra “service”. 
  • It’s easy to use: The incognito mode is really accessible even to those who aren’t tech-savvy Internet users. All you have to do to protect your browsing history and avoid cookie collection is to enable it within your browser. 
  • It helps you avoid ads: Incognito mode ensures that your browsing sessions don’t transform into crumbs of data that give brands an idea of your online identity. This helps you avoid being bombarded with targeted ads since your browser deletes or disables cookies the moment you close your browsing session window. 

Cons 

While it offers your online activity and data some protection, the private mode also has some limitations. There are also some disadvantages of the incognito mode you should know about, including: 

  • Your IP address is still visible: One of the biggest disadvantages of the private mode offered by the browser you use is that it doesn’t hide your IP address like a VPN would do, for example. Hiding your IP address online give plenty of benefits, including stopping ad networks from tracking you, keeping your sensitive search data private, and even allowing you to get around geographical barriers and access restricted sites. 
  • Hackers can get around this protection: Incognito mode doesn’t offer very strong protection against hackers who may really want to find out your data. For example, if you download an infected app or document, it doesn’t even matter if you’re using the private mode. The virus is added to your device and can leave all your sensitive data exposed. 

Wrapping up  

The incognito mode is a security feature that is better than nothing. While it doesn’t offer you very strong protection against attacks that may really target your data, it does a fairly good job at hiding some of your search data. 

The bottom line is that you should use incognito mode to protect your browsing data, especially if you’re using public networks or sharing your device with others. However, we do not recommend you to rely entirely on the private mode for complete anonymity.

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