What is Incognito Mode – Facts You Probably Did Not Know!
Research suggests that almost 46% of people have used private windows and incognito modes at least once in their lifetime. Most users opted for private windows to stay safe and secure from online tracking and digital fingerprinting. While private windows don’t log browsing history, are they really safe and secure? Explore the advantages and disadvantages of Incognito mode and find out if going incognito is your safest online bet.
What is the Incognito Mode?
Incognito mode is a private browsing feature. When active, it does not store the browsing history, cookies, passwords, and personal credentials. All popular browsers: Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, and Opera have this feature with a somewhat different name.
Why do people use Incognito Mode?
Here are 5 common reasons people choose to browse using Incognito modes.
Users can achieve device-level privacy.
When you browse privately via Incognito Mode, your web browser does not record your browsing history and site data. This means that when other users access your device or surf via the same browser, they will not be able to find out which websites you had visited and what activities you had performed.
Incognito mode does not save passwords.
Your browser doesn’t save your passwords in incognito mode. For example, if you logged in an eCommerce platform and ordered something, other users might not be able to enter your shopping profile, can not access your cart or view order history because they will need a password to do so.
Incognito Mode does not store cookies.
Incognito mode does not save cookies. Cookies are packets of personal information that websites store to remember your web activity. These cookies track your online behavior and then help browsers and websites create personalized web experiences. Take this example. When you visit the website of a German university and change the page to English, the website will remember your behaviour and create a cookie. Next time you visit the same website, you won’t have to translate it in English. When you use a private browsing window, your browser and websites do not save cookies.
Users don’t get auto-fill suggestions.
Because Incognito mode does not save any site data, your browser will not provide auto-fill suggestions based on previous session. This feature comes in handy when users wish to access their banking platforms or other sensitive websites on a shared device.
Users can access multiple email accounts.
Private windows allow you to access multiple email accounts on the same device without interruption. For example, you are working and want to access data on your Google Drive for 5 Gmail accounts. The most hassle-free way to do so would be to open 5 private windows, log-in, work, log-out and you are done!
The Downsides of Incognito Mode
Private windows do provide partial privacy and keep your internet experience hidden on a shared computer. However, this feature has certain downsides.
Incognito Mode requires manual activation.
The biggest drawback of incognito mode as a privacy feature is the requirement to enable it manually. You will have to choose the option to browse privately, every time you want to access sensitive information. Manual activation increases the chances of human error: you may either forget to initiate a private browsing session or forget to clear your search history before closing the browser. In such cases, your browsers may send you auto-fill suggestions based on your web experience, provide search recommendations on your next visit, save passwords and cookies.
Incognito Mode allows only device-level privacy – not protection.
While browsing from incognito mode, your Internet Service Provider, surveillance agencies, network managers and administrators can still monitor and process your online activity. ISPs particularly, can either submit the patterns of your online behavior to government officials or sell it to third-parts for revenue generation.
Incognito Mode does not hide your IP address.
Incognito modes are partially private, which means websites can still see your IP address. Any link you click, even while browsing privately can expose your IP address. Cybercriminals and hackers can gain access to your personal information and devices, misuse your data and install malware on your devices.
Incognito Mode stores your downloaded files and bookmarks.
Even while surfing via Incognito Mode, your browser will keep a record of your downloads and bookmarks. These downloads can be found in the Downloads tab and your download manager. Plus, if you have bookmarked a site or a particular page, you shall have to delete it manually, synchronization feature will display it in the bookmarks panel and most probably on other devices too.
Does Incognito Mode really ensure user privacy and security?
No! Incognito Modes and private windows are only mistaken for online privacy and security by a larger population. They can’t provide network-level safety, which is only possible if you have a reliable VPN service safeguarding you in the background. The advantages of going incognito are only limited to the fact that the websites you had visited won’t affect the performance of your system and can’t be viewed by other users on the same device. If you are using public Wi-Fi, for example in a school, the staff members can still monitor your browsing activities. If you are using incognito mode in your office, your colleagues can’t trace the websites via your device, but the network administrators and managers can still see what you did online.
How does a VPN ensure online safety?
A Virtual Private Network from a reliable service provider enables you to browse anonymously even when you are surfing on a public Wi-Fi via your Android phone. A VPN hides online activity, masks your IP address, reduces digital fingerprinting and unblocks geo-restricted content which is impossible with a basic private window or incognito mode.
In the age when life is absolutely unimaginable without internet, privacy plays a profound role in shaping a safe online experience. To ensure 100% protection, we can’t only rely on partial-privacy tools like Incognito mode; we need a stronger safeguard tool, an active VPN connection which secures whenever and wherever we are!
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