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Myth: I am invisible if I use ‘Incognito’ (private) browsing.

Private browsing is not as private as you may think!

Published by Total AV Security Labs

Alternatively referred to as “Private Browsing”, “InPrivate Browsing”, and “Private Window”. Incognito is a mode that prevents some type of information from being stored locally.

Pages you view in incognito tabs won’t stick around in your browser’s history, cookie store, or search history after you’ve closed all of your incognito tabs.

Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be kept.

incongnito

 However, you aren’t invisible.

Going incognito doesn’t hide your browsing from your employer, your internet service provider, governments and other sophisticated attackers, or the websites you visit.

For example, when you visit any web page the text, video, etc. that is loaded is stored on the computer. In addition, any searches or forms that are filled out are stored in AutoComplete fields.

Do you want to be fully “invisible”?

Sorry to disappoint you but… IT IS NOT POSSIBLE.

No matter what you do or what tools you use, if someone invests enough time and resources, they can and will track you down. The Internet was not done with this purpose in mind. You leave traces anywhere you go, no matter what you do. Everything gets logged somewhere: your IP address gets logged by your Internet provider, the URLs you visit, and so on.

Fortunately, you can make the job of someone who tries to detect you, very, very hard. But not impossible!

For that, you can use several layers of obfuscation.

The more layers you use, the more complicated it is for someone to detect you.

Use an anonymous proxy

Even if this can help you to bypass certain limitations (like location, age, etc.), there are some risks associated with it. For example, if you don’t know who owns that proxy, you should not trust the service: don’t enter any confidential data, credit cards, usernames, and passwords.

Usually, proxies don’t use encryption, even if there some proxies which allow encryption of the traffic between your browser and their servers. This allows a sniffer or man-in-the-middle to intercept your traffic. If you use a proxy, only the HTTP traffic goes through it. So, if you want to read emails, chat, play, etc., then you will not be anonymous.

Use a VPN solution.

The same risks as above apply here with the exception that a VPN solution encrypts the traffic between your computer and the gateway. This reduces the risk of being intercepted, but it doesn’t make it impossible.

Even with VPN, there are some restrictions. Don’t forget that a VPN does nothing else than to download the content of your target URLs from other computers and delivers you the content. On each peer there are traces left.

 Additionally, independent of the above:

– Use only browser extensions that are trusted and deactivate all others. Ideally, you should not use any extensions if you want to be anonymous.

– Use the HTTPS links whenever possible. If not sure, use HTTPS Anywhere to get some help.

– Deactivate or minimize the usage of cookies

Note: these steps just protect your privacy, they don’t really make you anonymous.