Incognito mode: What does it protect you against?

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Incognito mode also known as private browsing is a privacy and security feature implemented by most browsers that help in achieving some form of anonymity. When this mode is selected, the browser will not save your browsing history, cookies, and temporary files. Once you close the incognito window, all the collected information will be deleted. Other browsers couple it with a tracking protection feature that ensures some websites don’t track your browsing behaviour. Below are ways in which incognito mode is useful;

Prevents snooping via your browser

Since incognito mode doesn’t log your browsing history, it will help you gain some privacy from people, i.e., family members who have access to your computer and use the same browser.

Cookies won’t be able to track you

Cookies are small files stored in your computer by your browser when you visit certain sites. They enhance your browsing experience by, i.e., allowing to stay logged even after you close the website. But that’s not all! Cookies also have their dark side. They can be used to track you and provide feedback on literally everything you do while on the web.

The collected data can then be processed to deduce our browsing behaviour. That is, your online preferences, political views, online shopping and in a nutshell, cookies can be used to profile you. This data can then be sold to other third parties who will bombard you with ads across every website. But with incognito mode, cookies won’t be tracking you since they won’t be stored.

You will avoid browser fingerprinting

Besides cookies, browser fingerprinting is an advanced way that collects lots of identifying information. This information might include; browser information, extensions and add-ons installed, fonts used, time zone, screen resolution, active plugins and even information about your browser. Fingerprinting works for hand in hand with cookies but its also effective on its own. Collected information can be used to fully or partially identify you. This is an instant violation of your online privacy.

Besides being helpful, there are situations in which incognito mode won’t help you. Such as;

You can still be tracked by prying eyes

Prying eyes and other cybercriminals won’t track you via your browsing history. Instead, they use an aggressive method which involves DNS or your IP address. IP addresses carry a lot of information, and hence they are suitable when tracking is involved. With an IP address, prying eyes will be able to see what you are browsing regardless whether you are in incognito mode since they have access to your internet traffic and they can even triangulate your exact location.

When using a DNS server, cybercriminals can poison its cache and spoof its content. When this happens, you might log into a spoofed website and give all your details without your knowledge. Other DNS servers may record all your internet queries, and the owner may sell these data to third parties or even give it to law enforcers when asked to.

For total online privacy and security, use incognito mode with a reputable Virtual Private Network, VPN. A VPN ensures that your internet traffic is not visible to prying eyes. And even if its intercepted, it won’t be of much help. A VPN does this by encrypting and scrambling your internet traffic. With a VPN, you will also avoid being tracked as the VPN service assigns you a virtual IP address which you will use while on the internet. By doing this, the real you won’t be tracked. A VPN also offers other benefits such as gaining access to blocked content and also circumventing censorships.

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