Is private browsing private? That might seem like a dull question, given the designation. Still, private browsing after you toggle some incognito setting buttons might not suffice. I will explain how incognito search is not 100% anonymous and how to deal with that.
What Is Incognito Mode in Practice?
Incognito mode is more accurately named “private mode” because that is its primary function. People mostly use incognito to search for private content — but the system still sees you looking at the sites you searched. You enter that mode when you want to access data without anyone knowing about that session. That way, your browser won’t store any cookies or search history from those sites.
Of course, incognito mode exists for many purposes, not only for websites. Some people merely do not want their browser to remember information about how they google cringe content once. Another possible goal is googling a birthday present for someone using the same device. So, this mode is versatile for many tasks and purposes. Theoretically, yes, you are anonymous at that moment. Practically — no.
Why Incognito Mode Never Suffices?
For starters, your ISP will still see where you connect and when you do it. That might not be an issue if you frequently browse NSFW content, but your provider might get suspicious if this is an isolated case. That is why some people use VPNs to encrypt their traffic and make it less obvious what they are doing.
Another way how people can see what you are doing in incognito mode is through your workplace or school network. The system administrator can always track the IP addresses connected to different sites. They might not be keen on following what you do, but they could still find out if they wanted to.
The third way of finding out what people look at in their incognito mode is through websites. For example, Google can still track the searches you make while in that mode. The company will not connect those searches to your account, but the data is still stored. So, you cannot avoid digital fingerprinting and data collection.
What Are the Best Alternatives to Incognito Mode?
You might want complete privacy, and that is understandable. Many Internet dangers motivate us to find other solutions. Here are two undemanding options a user can add to their toolkit immediately!
Proxies, of course
Those are fantastic ways of ensuring your privacy. It is an intermediary server between you and the website you want to visit. It changes your IP address and, at the same time, encrypts your traffic. Many people use proxies for different reasons:
- To access geo-blocked content;
- To speed up their connection;
- To improve security;
- To ensure privacy.
Note that many proxy types exist. For instance, what proxies would be practical for SEO work and social media usage? Backconnect proxies are the solution for that case. What is the difference between residential and data center proxies? Answering that takes another article (I have already explained that here, by the way).
Tor Onion Network
Another fantastic way of ensuring your privacy is to use the TOR network. You might have heard about it before because of its connection to the dark web. However, the TOR network is an incredible tool for anyone who wants to protect their identity and data online.
Unlike a proxy, which only encrypts traffic, TOR encrypts and then re-encrypts it several times. That makes it challenging to follow the traffic back to its source. Also, TOR uses different nodes for each re-encryption, so it is impossible to follow the data.
Moreover, the Onion Network is fantastic for accessing geo-restricted stuff. But is TOR ideal? Of course, no. Positives and negatives are equally relevant, like with any other solution. But this option is undemanding, fast, free, and best used for regular browsing.
Virtual Private Networks are beautiful because they change your IP address, encrypt traffic, and often have additional features. For example, VPNs frequently offer malware protection or ad-blocking. Some of the most famous names in this business are NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and CyberGhost. Yet, those are not the only solutions, and I do not impose using any of them.
Of course, there is a difference between proxies and VPNs. Research additionally to determine which solution is wiser and more practical for your case.
Extra cybersecurity measures
Of course, proxies, VPNs, and technical gifts like TOR are enough to strengthen your digital shield. Still, cybersecurity measures do not stop there. Remember the principles of safe Internet usage! I have gathered the best cybersecurity blogs you might enjoy if you want to dive deeper into that topic.
I have hopefully answered your question, “Does Incognito Mode Make You Anonymous?” The factual answer is no; the deeper answer is that it depends on your definition of anonymous. Incognito mode gives you some privacy but does not make you anonymous.
Stay safe in the Internet thickets! There are many ways to become more private and secure online. Some of them are technical, and some require changing your behavior.