Google Chrome and almost all other web browsers offer an “incognito” mode, or private mode, designed to allow you to browse the web privately. As a result, any websites you visit in incognito mode will not appear in your browsing history, nor will your personal information be remembered. However, when using incognito mode, are you actually browsing completely incognito?
What can still be tracked when “incognito”?
While using Incognito mode on Chrome, recent reports have shown that Google can still:
- Track every search you make on Google
- Track every suggested link you click on
- Navigate you to a URL; just as buildings and houses have a street address, webpages also have unique addresses to help people locate them. On the Internet, these addresses are called URLs.
This is all because your IP address (or your unique address that identifies a device on the internet or a local network) is not concealed when using incognito mode, so your internet service provider (ISP) still handles all your Domain Name System (DNS) requests. DNS translates human-readable domain names (for example, www.amazon.com) to machine-readable IP addresses (for example, 192.0. 2.44).
This means that even though your browsing history might not show up in the history toolbar while in incognito mode, your ISP still has a detailed account of every site you visit and keeps a database of your web history. Making it possible for a third-party source, including the government, to access your browsing history.
Are there any advantages to incognito mode?
Even if it’s not as private as it appears, browsing incognito still comes with a few advantages. Namely, it stops cookies (tracking devices used by web browsers to save personal information about you) from building up on your device. While using incognito mode:
- All cookies are erased when you close a session
- When you log on again, you can’t be tracked by websites using cookies
- You will have far fewer trackers left in your browser than in a normal window.
For safer private browsing, consider an alternative search engine
Some search engines offer a little more security for more secure private browsing than Chrome, even in incognito mode. Among our most recommended alternative search engines are:
A Dutch-based search engine that lets you get Google search results while protecting your privacy under more strict EU privacy standards. This private and secure search engine does not store personal data, track user search history or serve ads based on your search history.
A meta-search engine that gathers results from other top search engines, including Yahoo!, Google and Bing. All of its results are grouped into categories to help you search grouped results.
A private search engine providing encrypted searches and is B-lab certified, which means it operates on a high level of transparency and accountability. On top of that, 80% of its profits are donated to non-profit organizations dedicated to planting trees.
Other ways to stay private
Perhaps the most valuable tool to protect your online browsing is investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN is the opportunity for you to establish a protected network connection when using public networks. A VPN also allows you to block your IP address.
See my expert review of the best VPN by searching “Best VPN” at CyberGuy.com by clicking the magnifying glass icon at the top of my website.
For more of my Privacy tips, head over to CyberGuy.com and be sure to subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by clicking the “Free newsletter” link at the top of my website.
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