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What is Private Browsing and Why You Need Private Browsing


What is Private Browsing and Why You Need Private Browsing

What is Private Browsing and Why You Need Private Browsing

As you browse the web, the web browser you are using remembers lots of information for you - like the sites you've visited. There may be times, however, when you don't want people with access to your computer to see this information, such as when shopping for a present. Private Browsing allows you to browse the Internet without saving any information about which sites and pages you’ve visited.

What does Private Browsing not save?

  •  Visited pages: No pages will be added to the list of sites in the History menu, the Library window's history list, or the address bar history list.

  •    Form and Search Bar entries: Nothing you enter into text boxes on web pages or the Search bar will be saved for Form autocomplete.

  •    Passwords: No new passwords will be saved.

  •    Download List entries: No files you download will be listed in the Downloads Window after you turn off Private Browsing.

  •    Cookies: Cookies store information about websites you visit such as site preferences, login status, and data used by plugins like Adobe Flash. Cookies can also be used by third parties to track you across websites.

  •    Cached Web Content and Offline Web Content and User Data: No temporary Internet files (cached files) or files that websites save for offline use will be saved.

New bookmarks you create while using Private Browsing will be saved.

   Any files you download to your computer while using Private Browsing will be saved.

However, and while it will prevent information from being stored on your computer, it won’t prevent your employer, Internet service provider, websites you visit, or the NSA for that matter, from collecting any information you transmit beyond your computer.

Google Chrome’s Incognito mode may cover your tracks online locally, but it doesn’t erase them entirely.

Truly private browsing requires an encrypted connection through a browser that has Virtual Private Network (VPN) capabilities.  A virtual private network (VPN) is a technology that creates a safe and encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as the internet.

How to Choose a Virtual Private Network (VPN) That's Right for You

The only thing that is visible when you’re browsing utilizing a VPN, is the location you choose to be visible. Private browsers with VPN capabilities allow you to choose from connections around the world to display as your point of origin. (If you connect through a VPN location in Switzerland, it will appear as though you are browsing the web via Switzerland, even if your physical location is Palo Alto, California.)

In the workplace, things get a bit more complicated. Although a VPN connection will encrypt your traffic, your employer’s IT department may be able to still tell if you are using an encrypted connection especially if you’re on the company network. This may be against your company’s policy, so be aware of the consequences.

Also if you’re on a company machine, then it may already be controlled by corporate and your activities are already being monitored regardless if a VPN is on or not.

Google’s AdSense makes a private browsing experience impossible using Google. A private search engine such as DuckDuckGo and StartPage don’t creep on your habits for the sake of targeting advertisements to you.

If you browse the web primarily from your phone, be sure to turn off Geotagging to prevent the public caching of your physical location each time you take a photo. (If you’re using a private browser but still have this feature turned on, your browsing location with conflate with your physical location.)

Last but not least, you can use browser security tools such as HTTPS Everywhere and Privacy Badger to protect your data even when you’re not browsing privately.

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