May.14th.2020

Is the "Incognito mode" REALLY private?

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    Private browsing is a very popular way of surfing the internet since it allows users to surf the web without leaving any trace of his passage!

    At least, that's what it lets us believe!

    Often used to provide secure browsing when using a public computer or an Internet connection on unprotected media, the "private" mode is available on all browsers with a custom name:

    • Chrome: "Incognito mode"
    • Firefox and Safari: "Private Navigation"
    • Explorer: "InPrivate"

    Although these descriptions suggest that these modes are "secure" and provide total privacy, this is unfortunately not the case. Here's what you need to know about private browsing and how you can maximize your security.


    Why should I switch to private navigation?

    Since it allows us to surf the net invisibly, we use private browsing for many reasons:

    History and cache

    Many favor private browsing for the simple reason that the browser doesn't keep track of websites frequented and no data or advertising are recorded. To make it simple, you surf unnoticed. Your browsing history is empty when you close the window and it is not possible to retrace your path.

    This navigation does not save your caches either! Which is a real advantage for the developers who can see concretely the result of a modification on the website (by putting in place of a lambda user)

    Buy gifts

    You want to give a gift to your partner but you share the same computer? By blocking cookies, private browsing allows you to do your research by erasing your tracks!

    Please also note that cookies are the one who keep track of your coming and then impose you targeted ads that could ruin the element of surprise! By blocking them naturally, you don't take any risk (even if it's not always so simple, some browsers like chrome derogate to this rule)

    Book trips

    Did you know that airfare prices increase when you search for a ticket multiple times on your browsers? Indeed, it happens that plane ticket prices increase to create a sense of urgency and push the user to pay quickly an expansive price! By not remembering you, the mode "private browsing" makes you pass for a newbie on the website and you avoid this inconvenience.


    Incognito mode, not as private as you think

    Unfortunately, even if it leaves us the feeling of leaving no trace, the private browsing doesn't make us completely invisible on the internet ... Here is what you absolutely must know about this mode:

    It does not protect you from hacking

    Whether you download a corrupted file, enter your personal data, or perform any other operation that may expose you, being in private browsing doesn't guarantee you any additional security regarding hacking. As with any method of navigation, vigilance is required.

    It does not stop your internet service provider, the government or your employer from watching your session

    Do you use a public computer? Do you use a computer protected by your company? This does not prevent some organizations from accessing your session history. Yes, everything that happens on the internet is registered and can be accessed by the service provider, but also the government or even your employer if necessary. The protocols in place allow you to follow your IP address, which provides information on your activity on the Internet but also on your location and your search history and full details about your navigation. Remember that you don't leave a visible trace behind you but they are still present in the digital world.

    Some websites save your data even in incognito mode

    Not surprisingly, some web giants like Amazon, Facebook or Google continue to monitor any activity that occurs on their platform regardless of the browsing mode. Just as some browsers are a little more flexible in terms of safety in private navigation. This is particularly the case of Google Chrome which keeps your saved searches for example.


    How to activate it on browsers?

    Safari

    • Click on file then open a "new incognito window"
    • Keycode (Mac): ⌘ + Maj + N

    Good to know: the only way to know you are in private browsing is the search bar that turns black.

    Navigation privée - Safari

    Firefox

    • Click on the menu to the right of the toolbar (or on file) and open a "new incognito window"
    • Keycode (PC): Ctrl + Maj + P
    • Keycode (Mac): ⌘ + Maj + P

    Good to know: Private navigation window are purple. 

    Navigation privée - Firefox

    Chrome

    • Click on the menu to the right of the toolbar (or on file) and open a "new incognito window"
    • Keycode (PC): Ctrl + Maj + N
    • Keycode (Mac): ⌘ + Maj + N

    Good to know: a button "private navigation" with an icon remains to indicate on which navigation you are. You can click on it to exit the private mode.

    Navigation privée - Chrome

    Microsoft Edge

    • Click on the menu to the right of the toolbar (or on file) and open a "New InPrivate Window"
    • Keycode (PC): Ctrl + Maj + N
    • Keycode (Mac): ⌘ + Maj + N

    Good to know: Microsoft Edge is exclusively in English

    Navigation Privée - Microsoft Edge


    How to ensure the privacy of your navigation?

    Use other browsers

    Some browsers are known to have better security in the "private" mode. Among the most used, it is Firefox that stands out with guarantees of more private browsing thanks to options of protection against tracking and a multi-account container for safer and optimized navigation. But there are also other alternatives that you can use:

    Tor

    The Tor browser is similar to a classic web browser. It's not harder to use than Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. The difference lies in the fact that the browser connects you to the Internet via the Tor network which is secure (no need for "private" mode). Tor is free open source software that allows you to remain anonymous online. When you browse the Internet using the Tor Browser, your traffic is randomly routed through a network of servers before you reach your final destination, protecting your location and identity. He is also associated with the search engine DuckDuckGo, renowned for its security and ethics in terms of data collection.

    Good to know: The name "Tor" is the abbreviation of The Onion Router. This refers to how Tor protects your data - by wrapping them in multiple layers of encryption, like an onion.

    Opera 

    In private mode, the Opera browser can block ads to improve the loading of pages, and provides a description of each site allowing its user to define what type of website he navigates with security indicators. The goal is to protect you from cookies.

    • Go on "file" and click on "New private window"
    • Keycode (PC): Ctrl + Maj + N
    • Keycode (Mac): ⌘ + Maj + N

    Vivaldi

    Associated with the DuckDuckGo search engine, the Vivaldi browser wanted to make its private mode even more private by including a search engine that undertakes not to follow any of your activities and download any personal information about you. Its presentation is a little confusing because it doesn't look like any other browser.

    • Click on the Vivaldi icon at the top left of your screen, then on "file" and "New incognito window".
    • Keycode (PC): Ctrl + Maj + N
    • Keycode (Mac): ⌘ + Maj + N

    Use a VPN

    Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allow users to securely access a private network and share data remotely over public networks. Just like a firewall protects your data on your computer, VPNs protect it online. And even though a VPN is technically a wide area network (WAN), the front-end server retains the same functionality, security, and appearance as the private network.

    For this reason, VPNs are extremely popular with businesses as a way to secure sensitive data when connecting to remote data centers. These networks are also increasingly popular among individual users to download torrent, but also protect its navigation which unlike private browsers, really leave no trace. Feel free to go on applications such as Rabbit which are free or NordVPN which are paid to protect your internet browsing and go really unnoticed.


    You are now warned!

    In most cases, the navigation is responsible for erasing the traces of your navigation on your terminal only but that's pretty much all! Depending on the browser, it doesn't guarantee a total invisibility on the net.

    To ensure optimal security in your navigation, it is necessary to pass either by a VPN or a browser offering enhanced security, such as Tor, Vivaldi or even Firefox.

     

    Do you want to see other articles about security? We have a whole range of it! Come, it's this way!

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