How Safe is Incognito Mode?

We’ve all heard of incognito mode. It was first introduced in Apple Safari and later used in several other browsers. Some call it incognito, other browsers call it private browsing. There are different names but incognito helps you go invisible.

The question is, how invisible are you really when you use incognito?

If you’re a Chrome user, you can invoke the incognito mode by clicking on the three dots on the top right corner. Select New Incognito Window.

Incognito mode VPN Den

How Safe is Incognito Mode?

Another Chrome window will open up with the message, “You’ve gone Incognito.” It mentions that you can browse privately now

But don’t be fooled into thinking that whatever you do cannot be seen by everyone. Incognito comes with its own limitations. Let’s see what those are. 

Who can See Your Incognito Activities

Even when you switch to incognito mode, here are some parties that can see what you’ve been doing.

⚠️ Your ISP: Your ISP monitors everything you do. And they keep logs of your activities. When you use incognito, your ISP can still see what you’re doing.

⚠️ Your office/school authorities: If you’re in school or office, and you think your activities cannot be monitored if you use incognito, you’re wrong. If you plan to send your resume to another company, don’t do it on incognito. Your employer can see everything.

⚠️ Websites: If you connect to a website and you don’t want it to know your real location (for example, if you want to connect to Netflix using another location), the incognito mode will not work. The website can see your real IP address even if you hide behind private browsing.

⚠️ Google: If you think Google cannot track your moves because you’re incognito, you’re mistaken. Google will keep tracking you and updating its user map based on what you search and what you do online.

⚠️ The government and hackers: If you want your data to be hidden from hackers or the government, incognito isn’t the right option for you. If they’re monitoring your connection, they can see whatever you’re doing online.

⚠️ Keyloggers/ransomware/other malware: If there’s a malware on your computer that’s keeping an eye on you, the incognito mode will not protect you. A keylogger will record all your keystrokes even if you browse privately.

So What’s the Purpose of Incognito?

There are several advantages of using incognito mode. Whatever you open using incognito isn’t stored in your browser history. Also, all cookies used for that session are deleted when you close the window.

Cookies are small files that a website leaves on your computer. These files are generally used to track your visits on a particular site. For example, a site would like to know if you’re visiting them for the first time or the fifth time. These details are stored in these files.

Incognito Mode in Google Chrome Browser

Incognito Mode in Google Chrome Browser

When you use incognito mode, these files are deleted from your device once you close the session.

So if you want to hide your browsing data from someone who has access to your computer, the incognito mode can help you.

For example, if you’re planning a surprise party for your dad and you use a shared family computer, the incognito mode will be a great idea. He will have no idea what you’ve searched for and which sites you opened.

But if you download a file while in incognito mode, it will be saved on your drive. So if you are saving a few images of gift ideas, they will be there even if you close the incognito window. Also, it saves bookmarks, so make sure you don’t mark a page.

Don’t use incognito to watch porn at work

Sure, incognito will hide your activities from someone who has access to your system. So once you log out of your device and someone else opens it, they won’t get to know what you did when you went incognito.

And incognito mode has gained somewhat of a reputation for being used while watching porn. But it will not protect you in the office.

Office and school networks are generally monitored by network administrators. So when you watch porn in the office, the network administration team can see exactly what data is being transmitted. Incognito won’t be helpful here.

Stay secure with a VPN

If you want to avoid being monitored by your ISP and the network admins of your school or office, you should use a VPN. A VPN encrypts your traffic so anyone monitoring your connection won’t know what activities you performed online.

Also, it reroutes your internet traffic through one of its own servers. So the websites you visit won’t get to know about your real location. Instead, they will see the location of the VPN server you’re connected to.

However, a VPN will not secure your browsing history. So if you’re watching porn on your work computer with a VPN but haven’t used incognito, anyone using the computer after you can see whatever you did.

The best thing to stay secure is to use both a VPN and incognito mode. This way, nobody will get to know about the websites you browsed.

However, I wouldn’t advise watching porn in the office. It’s unethical and doesn’t… really… makes sense to me.

Incognito has a number of advantages. It protects you from sketchy websites too as the cookies they store will be deleted once you exit the session. If a website has a link that takes you to another website, you can right-click on it and click on Open in Incognito Window.

This way, even if the new page stores some cookies on your computer, you’ll be safe as these files will be deleted after you exit the session.

Final Words

Incognito mode has its own advantages and limitations. Just keep one thing in mind while using incognito – it hides things from those who have physical access to your computer. It cannot hide things from parties who can listen to your network traffic.

To get complete protection, you can use incognito with a VPN. Or you can use the Tor browser that doesn’t remember anything and also encrypts your traffic.

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