Many of us have been there, attempting to use the private browsing mode, so that we can have some privacy. Private browsing features go by many names such as ‘Incognito Mode,’ ‘InPrivate Browsing,’ or ‘Private Browsing.’ Irrespective of the name, it is essentially the same feature in every browser. But does private browsing secure your data?
Private browsing does offer a degree of enhanced privacy. Still, it certainly is not a magical solution that makes you anonymous or safe online. Using a private browsing function can help you achieve many things. Sadly, maintaining complete privacy is not one of them. There are several things you should know about the private browsing mode.
What Is Private Browsing
Your routine web browser is designed to remember the URLs of the websites you visit, cookies that track your web activity, passwords you have entered, and temporary files you have downloaded. You can see how this can be useful if you wanted to revisit a particular web page from a few days ago; or if you could not remember your login information. On the flip side, you will undoubtedly see how fast your internet activity can be exposed if someone else has access to your computer.
The private mode is designed to reduce the digital footprints you leave behind when you surf the Internet. When you use a private browser, your browsing history, search history, and cookies get immediately deleted as soon as you close the browser.
There are several reasons to go private while browsing online, such as when you are using a shared computer; when shopping for gifts or booking travel. But how much control do you think you have over which organizations see your browsing history?
Why Private Browsing Is Not Really Private
Firstly, the purpose of private browsing is not security. The main objective of private browsing is to minimize information from being automatically stored on your computer. The issue remains, however, that your browsing activity may still be open to the Internet service provider, the organization that provides the Internet connection (such as your employer), or to the network monitoring software.
Secondly, private browsing does not stop sites from tracking your IP address. This means that your computer, browser, and IP address are still communicated with website servers and ad servers.
Four, it is worthwhile to bear in mind that going private does not help protect you from cybercriminals. Whether you are browsing private or not, you should ensure that you use a reliable security suite in all your devices before going online. There are plenty of threats to your privacy, even in private browsing mode, such as malware, spyware, keyloggers, and phishing attacks. One thing is unavoidable – when you are surfing the Internet, you are still connected to other web servers, and as long as that is the case, your computer can be harmed.
And finally, there is an issue of supercookies. Every so often, the advertisers come up with a new, more complex method of fixing tracking cookies on your computer beyond the ordinary cookie. Private browsing mode may not be able to erase them.
How To Protect Your Data
The truth of the matter is that total privacy and anonymity do not exist in the Internet realm. Private browsing does not operate as an Internet black hole. A record of your browsing activity still exists, and it can be traced back to you. There is a way for you to minimize the ability of organizations to track and access your personal data.
The above being said you should start by considering and being aware of how you use your browser. All browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Edge, Safari, and Chrome, have settings that enable you to disallow third-party cookies. Furthermore, a host of plugins are also available to make your browsers more secure.
It will be nearly impossible for you to avoid the Internet altogether, but managing access and your activities and opting out of activity tracking in the security settings might bring a degree of comfort and security.
Considerations should also be given to a Virtual Private Network (VPN), a secure intermediary server between your computer and the websites you visit. VPNs are encrypted, so they conceal location and content from external parties. Instead of seeing your computer and location, the website will only see the VPN server.
The bottom line is that most of us have very little control over which organizations can see our browsing history. It is clear that private browsing does not secure your data and it is really only ‘private’ within your household. You can still be tracked, and the information about your computer is being transmitted. Private browsing merely deletes your browsing history and ordinary cookies.
Data is the most precious commodity, and there will always be those who push the boundaries, just to serve us ads.
Managing your privacy and security online is an ongoing work that requires a proactive approach to discovering how to ensure your privacy on the Internet.