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    Wednesday, July 24, 2019

    What Does and Doesn’t Incognito Mode Protect Against?

    If you have been using the internet for some time, then you should already know that all online activities are tracked. The Incognito mode comes to your rescue by giving you the option of blocking your activities from getting tracked in a more general sense. Simply put, your device will not remember whatever activities you carry out while in incognito mode. If you don’t want your spouse to know the websites you visit, for instance, incognito mode is the tool for you. Want your browser not to have a history of what you did online? Shift to incognito mode.

    You might also want to use incognito mode for other reasons other than keeping your browsing history safe from prying eyes. For instance, if you are logged into your primary Google account, you can open another browser in incognito mode and use it to access a separate Google account concurrently. The same applies to other accounts that you may not want tracing your every online action, such as Facebook.

    Also known as private browsing on Opera and Firefox, Incognito in Chrome gives you a certain degree of privacy. But browsing in incognito mode has its own restrictions. Let’s look at some of the areas where  incognito mode’s limitations are evident.

    Downloads and Bookmarks
    Incognito mode on your browser only prevents the recording of your browsing history. It, however, doesn’t do anything for your manually downloaded material. So, the file you download while in incognito mode will still be available on your hard disk once you log out. This is a clear indication that incognito does not forbid downloads or erase them automatically; you will have to do it by yourself.

    This is also the case with any form of bookmarks you save. You will also have to delete them manually. So, you will have to exercise due diligence in covering your bookmarks and downloads if you want to maintain your online privacy.

    Online Tracking and Privacy
    We’ve already seen that incognito mode blocks your browser from accessing your activity by not scanning through cookies. But, the mode only blocks browser tracking, while there may be several others who could be watching your activity. Every time you are online, your ISP is checking your actions. You could also be tracked through formerly installed cookies. There are many instances where NSA has been found to track internet users. Unfortunately, the incognito mode does not help you with any of these. Besides, it doesn’t delete cookies that are already on your browser. You will have to do that individually.

    Workplace Tracking
    Many companies strictly prohibit social media usage while at work. If your boss has blocked social media sites or installed tracking software, then it’s good to adhere to the laid down regulations and not invite problems with the higher-ups. Incognito only hides your activity from the device you are browsing from. So, if you are accessing social media sites at work when it’s not allowed, just know that you are not masking from anyone. Your network admins will still see all your actions. Incognito will not conceal your activities from a server that is monitoring your actions.

    In summary, Incognito mode is excellent for a more private browsing experience. It basically means your browser won’t save cookies, your browsing history, or temporary internet files while you are in this mode. Many users have mistaken the limits of what this browsing mode can do. Some think that it can hide their online actions from everyone including their employer or ISP, when this is absolutely not the case.

    It’s also good to note that some of the software that you install on your devices can interfere with the privacy protections that come with going incognito. For instance, parental monitoring software is generally unaltered even in incognito mode. Spyware installed on a device may also continue to gather information despite using incognito mode. This mode, together with other private browsing modes is still useful but, users need to be aware of its limitations and not expect it to completely hide their online activity.

    Felicia Williams
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