Private and incognito browsing aren’t really private at all

Many years ago, when the internet was just starting to gain popularity, the private browsing feature was introduced. It was sometimes marketed as incognito browsing, but both terms refer to the same concept. 

The idea is that you load up your web browser, but you select the private browsing mode. As a result, your search history and browsing habits will be private. If, for example, you went on your normal browser straight after, you wouldn’t find any information on what you were doing. This can bring many potential benefits, such as being able to shop online for gifts without your partner or family members sneaking through your history to see what you’re looking at. 

Overall, the primary purpose of this feature was to bring more privacy to your web browsing world. 

However, it turns out that private browsing really isn’t private at all…

Your information is still being tracked and seen

The whole concept of private browsing is basically a sham. Yes, your browsing habits remain hidden from other people that might use the same device as you. However, this is where all elements of privacy end. 

Everything that you do while using a private browser will be seen by your internet service provider. Government agencies can still track your habits too, and if you’re using a work computer on a shared network, your employer will be able to see everything as well. Even the websites you visit will have access to your browsing data, meaning that they can use cookies to create tailored adverts for you. 

In reality, your information and browsing habits aren’t safely hidden away from anyone other than the people using your device. 

What’s the point of private browsers?

After reading this, you’re probably wondering what the point of private browsing is. Seemingly, it’s a feature that promises one thing but completely and utterly fails to deliver the one thing it’s promising!

Well, it can still have some uses. As consumers, it is handy to use private browsers if you share devices with other people in your family. As mentioned before, it can stop them from seeing what you’ve been searching for, preventing them from finding any surprises that you’re planning. 

From a work perspective, private browsers are useful if you have numerous email accounts with the same email provider. For instance, if you have two Gmail accounts, you can’t keep them both open in the same browser. But, if you have an incognito window open, you can view both of your email accounts at once. 

It can also be helpful in scenarios when you have free trials on some websites. A lot of media sites will only let you view a set number of articles per month. But, if you use an incognito tab, you can basically reset them to zero and get double the number of articles. Yes, this is a niche use, but it can be handy if your work requires you to research certain topics. 

Can you achieve full privacy when browsing the web? 

We live in a world where everything is connected, and people want to be even more connected than ever before. Is it truly possible to browse the web with complete and utter privacy? 

Well, yes, it is. Private browsers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, but VPNs are. Okay, so, what is VPN? Effectively, it stands for virtual private network, which refers to a private server that can help you connect to the internet. There are loads of VPN providers out there, but the gist is that your connection is encrypted. As a result, you are protected when you browse. It’s harder for anyone to steal sensitive data from you – like bank details – and your ISP or employer can’t view your browsing habits. 

VPNs have other benefits, such as the ability to connect to the internet from any location. If you’re in the US, you can connect to the internet through a VPN and make it look like you’re in the UK. Aside from adding more privacy and security, this also means you can access things like the UK version of Netflix, etc. 

Don’t put all your faith in private browsing

To sum everything up, private browsing isn’t as private as you think. In fact, it basically offers zero privacy, other than between you and other people using the same device. If you want to browse the web securely, away from prying eyes, then a VPN is the best way to do so. This doesn’t mean that private browsers are useless, it’s just that they have more niche uses than you might think.

 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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