By now you know that your online activities are an open secret and can be tracked by various parties. While some users resort to deploying VPNs, others activate the incognito or private mode when browsing to keep their online activities away from prying eyes. So, how private is the incognito mode? Does it make your online activities completely anonymous?
Apple’s Safari browser introduced the incognito mode feature in 2005. Soon, other browsers including Mozilla raced to include the feature until it became a standard requirement for any reputable browser.
Basically, incognito mode hides your browsing history from people using the same computer, and also deletes the cookies and any temporary files associated with that browser session. When you activate it, your browser will open a new private browsing window. At the end of your browsing session, it discards your browsing history. Since your temporary internet files, cookies, and your browsing history are discarded as soon as you close the window, family members, relatives, and friends who use the computer cannot track your online activity.
Normally, when you surf the Internet without activating the private mode, your browsing history, cookies, and temporary Internet files are some of the information that your browser grabs and stores for future use. Most of the information is stored with the aim of enhancing your user experience whenever you go online. But in some instances, the information is used to enable advertisers to keep track of your online activities and customize adverts according to your browsing behavior. The downside with having your information freely available online is that there are enough people with ulterior motives who would not mind using the data to harm you.
When you browse using incognito mode, URLs of the websites you visited are not stored. In addition, advertisers are less likely to monitor your online behavior.
Unfortunately, the incognito mode does not encrypt your traffic. Therefore it has no capacity to keep your online activity completely anonymous, as your Internet service provider can see and track your online activity, including the files you download.
In addition, the private mode does not protect you from being monitored by your network administrator or spied on by someone, especially if you are browsing using a public hotspot.
Ultimately, incognito mode protects some aspects of your privacy as it stops browsers from storing information about your online behavior on your local device. But incognito mode does not keep your online activity anonymous, as your data is still available to network administrators, search engines, and government agencies.