Are you actually safe in incognito?
Since the dawn of social media in the early 2000s, people had to protect themselves from data leakage. Some have secure networks or VPNs, while others fall back to private browsing or the infamous incognito mode. So what is incognito mode?
Incognito basically creates a veil of anonymity for its users at home. It removes traces of your local data, meaning that data from browsers you visit won’t be saved in your personal computer, including cookies, browsing records, and search history.
The reality is that incognito removes traces of online activity from your personal computer but not the internet or the web. It doesn’t stop there. If someone wanted to access your data history, they could run commands to display your DNS files, which are usually untouched. So when you open that darkened window from Google chrome and see a little detective looking symbol, just know that the website you do visit can still monitor what you are doing in their domain.
Now, what can you do about this? Well, you can’t completely block out the information you give when visiting a website. Instead, you can limit the amount it does receive using browser extensions like Adblock, Chromenanny, or StayFocused.
Another way to limit the data that websites track is through compartmentalization. Compartmentalization is using one main browser for all personal uses like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Paypal, or other services; and another browser for daily uses. Keeping them separate can keep cookies or trackers in a single space, meaning that only you will have access to them. So when you use other browsers to search irrelative information, tracking would be linked to an anonymous profile since nothing personal is logged in your dummy browser.
Incognito is still a handy browser. It may not be the safest, but it still has its uses. This is more applicable for people who share a computer and wanna surprise their housemates with a cheeky gift for Christmas, or when you use computers or devices that are not yours. If you want to quickly check an email or login to social media from your friend’s laptop, you can quickly use incognito to remove any data from your friend’s device. Lastly, and I know we have all done this before, incognito is used for our basic and stupid searches like “Why isn’t 11 Pronounced as Onety one”. Things that our curiosity peeks into us but are ultimately ashamed of sometimes.
Reliance on extensions is one thing, but being aware of what you can prevent or control is also another. Being aware is being protected.
This article was written by Louigi Balao.