01 January 2021

What is Private Browsing?

Private Browsing

Private browsing, privacy mode or incognito mode is a feature built into every browser, regardless of the computer or device’s operating system. It is, as the title suggests, a privacy feature that will disable the browsing history and web cache; it stops any data from the browsing activities from being stored on the device or computer.

With private browsing mode enabled, which takes just a couple of clicks of the mouse, someone can effectively run a search for something they shouldn’t, view the content and close down the private browser window without anyone ever knowing they were on the site. There are ways and means in which you can check for private browsing but it’s often hit and miss and not entirely accurate, which is the whole point of private browsing in the first place.

How Private is our information?

The answer is, not much. Whatever browser you use, in any device whether it is laptop or mobile. The kind of information privacy which you can expect is no logging of your web browsing history. There will be no cookies stored for these sessions. However, still at network level everything is recorded. In technical terms, you can only hide information at application level. There is a clear visibility of your information in network layer. Which means, your IP and destination IP is recorded by the router or firewall installed at your home or company.

At enterprises, its easier to track the sites you are visiting using Proxy logs.

Private browsing will only help you not store your browsing history in the browser logs. At network devices, the information is still captured.

Why should we use Private Browsing Mode?

The main use case for private browsing is when you want to login to your personal email accounts, bank accounts in a public computer like the one in a hotel lobby, library or internet cafe. These are places where many people come to browse, so you dont want to keep your history stored on those machines, since you might forget to clear the history while leaving.

Another valid reason is when you want to login to multiple gmail accounts or facebook accounts at the same time. At normal mode, cookies are tracked so multiple accounts cant be opened.

So how to browse completely Private?

Yes, you can. You might need to install the TOR browser and a trustable VPN software. When we say VPN, you need to check for a provider who actually does not store logs. There are providers who promise "no logging", but they aren't necessarily beyond the reach of law enforcement.

Using TOR browser alone wont give you full privacy, as there have been reports earlier that users identities have been exposed using TOR.

TOR browser can be downloaded from -> https://www.torproject.org/

Where should I go to use Private Browsing?

In Google Chrome, it is called incognito mode. You can click the three dots towards the right top corner and choose open new incognito window or press Ctrl+Shift+N

In Internet Explorer it is called InPrivate Browsing which is available in the settings.

Mozilla calls it Private Browsing window.

Like this article? Share the knowledge.