How To Stay Private Online
Staying private online isnt easy. Some people use ad blockers, privacy conscious browsers, and a bunch of extensions. With all those tools available, security professionals still agree that adding a VPN to your list of privacy tools is a great way to protect yourself.
Using privacy conscious search engines and logging out of your social media accounts is a great start, but VPN help distance you from your browsing activity and encrypt all of the information you send and receive so no one, not your internet service provider, advertisers or hackers, can see whats happening between your device and the VPN server.
What Is Private Browsing
Understanding private browsing can be quite confusing as the concept itself has a number of various definitions.
The way private browsing works can also depend on the browser that you use.
Here is how private browsing:
- The searches you do or sites you visit won’t be saved to your device or browsing history.
- Files you download or bookmarks you create might be kept on your device.
- Cookies are deleted after you close your private browsing window or tab.
- You might see search results and suggestions based on your location or other searches youve done during your current browsing session.
Note: If you sign in to your Google Account, through a web service like Gmail, your browsing activity might be saved to your account.
Well, from what youve just read, it seems like in many ways private browsing isnt really that private.
First of all, because Google says it might save your browsing activity if youre logged into Google Account, which is a big no-no if you need complete anonymity.
Secondly, Google officially admits that if you use their Incognito mode SOME of your information and online activity may still be visible to third parties.
- Your IP address, which can be used to identify your general location.
- Your activity when you use a web service.
- Your identity if you sign in to a web service, like Gmail.
And doesnt that some of your information and activity actually look like all of your information and activity?
To us, the answer is pretty obvious.
The Gaps In VPN Security
A VPN works by routing you through an encrypted connection called a secure tunnel. Your ISP or a network administrator can see that youre connecting to an outside serverthe VPNsbut not what websites youre connected to beyond that. This part of the process works like a charm, as tunnels generally use end-to-end encryption.
However, using a VPN does not guarantee complete anonymity. While your connection is cloaked, if you remain signed in to your social media or Google accounts, they can still track you. In other words: If you sign in to Google, connect to a VPN, and then keep using your normal browser where youre signed in to Googleof course, Google still knows who you are. Browser cookies saved in your browser may also be used to track you.
Heres the elephant in the room: The VPN service youre using can see every single thing youre doing while its active.
In a way, youre trading tracking by your ISP or your boss for tracking by your VPN. However, as part of their package, most VPNs promise to regularly delete their logsthe history of the connections any user has made. This is generally advertised as a no-logs policy, and on paper, it means that the VPN has no record of you or your doings. This means that it cant share that information with your ISP, advertisers, law enforcement, or anybody else who might want to know what youve been up to.
Youre placing a lot of trust in whatever VPN you choose, so do your research first.
You May Like: Att Blocking VPN
Differences Between Using VPN And Using Incognito Or Private Browsing Mode
Some people think that they dont need to use any virtual private network if the point is to get privacy in their browsing session. There is a feature offered on each browser which allows them to hide their browsing activity in their desktop or mobile devices. This feature is called the Incognito or Private Browsing feature. When you use this feature, you will be able to browse privately without leaving any history in your browser. But, is it enough to keep your privacy during your browsing activity?
The answer might surprise you. If you think that using the incognito mode is the same as using a VPN, and if you think that it provides enough privacy for your browsing activity, then you are mistaken. The VPN offers way more security and privacy features when you compare it with the incognito mode or private browsing. In fact, the incognito mode in your browser only offers a fraction of the features that the private network can offer to you. Here are 5 differences between using VPN and using incognito or private browsing mode:
What Is Private Browsing And How Do You Use It
Private browsing is a feature built into many modern-day web browsers. Many of the major web browsers have them, and they are usually easy to access through the File menu. For instance:
- Google Chrome has Incognito mode
- Microsoft Edge has InPrivate Browsing
- Safari has Private Browsing
- Firefox has Private Browsing
- Opera has private tabs built in.
Simply put, private browsing is a method of browsing wherein the browser will not save browser history, search history, or local data such as cookies.
Also Check: Can A VPN Speed Up Your Internet
How To Choose A VPN
When choosing a VPN, consider your needs for the device. User-friendliness, speed, secure encryption, and price are all important factors to examine. You also want reliable customer service, should anything out of the ordinary occur.
Consider using a secure VPN network that provides powerful protection and is capable of connecting other devices in your home. Research online reviews, but be careful of sites that promote affiliate websites. You can also talk to your tech-savvy friends and get their insight on recommended products.
Most importantly, when purchasing a VPN, its best to buy from a software company that you trust. So, no matter where you are, you can search the internet knowing that your connections are safer.
How Secure Is Incognito Mode
Incognito mode is the go-to browsing method for many users who want to limit their web activity from being monitored. But is it really that secure? While incognito mode can keep your search history spotless, there are certain restrictions to keep in mind. Depending on the level of protection you want, you might need to turn to other resources.
Furthermore, there are many misconceptions about incognito mode and what it can and cannot do. In this article, well explore the limits of private browsing and look into some possible alternatives to the feature. Keep reading to learn more about data protection and web tracking.
You May Like: Does VPN Slow Down Internet Speed
Our VPN Recommendations For Google Chrome
Take a look at our top VPN recommendations for keeping your data secure at all times.
ExpressVPN is our number one choice when it comes to top-of-the-line security features. Best known for its speed, ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption which is incredibly hard to break even for a government or corporation. Specific encryption protocols include UDP and TCP, which combine speed and security, as well as censorship-beating SSTP. Furthermore, ExpressVPN has a strong no-logging policy on traffic, DNS requests, IP addresses, and even browsing history, meaning nobody can get their hands on any data that can be traced back to your device or identity. Even better, ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands. Since its outside UK jurisdiction, its exempt from the Five, Nine, and Fourteen Eyes surveillance agreements, so your data will never be a part of information exchanges between major governments.
- Unblocking Netflix USA, iPlayer, Amazon Prime
- Super fast, reliable connection
- No logs for personal data
- 24/7 Chat Support.
Local Vs Online Anonymity
When talking about anonymous browsing, its important to make a distinction between local and online anonymity. The difference between the two depends on the place where your online activities are saved. This can happen both on your own computer and with other parties, such as websites or online trackers who aim to learn more about your online behavior.
Local anonymity means that your online history, preferences, cookies, and so on are not stored on your local device. Online anonymity means that this information isnt stored or tracked by websites, cookies, government agencies, hackers, search engines, internet service providers, browser extensions and more. In other words, local anonymity means your data isnt stored on your device while online anonymity means it isnt tracked by online actors.
Your browsers incognito mode only gives you local anonymity. It keeps your online activities from being stored on your local device. However, incognito mode doesnt protect your online anonymity, since your information is still visible to cookies, extensions, ISPs, government agencies, search engines and many other parties. Your IP address, operating system, location and all sorts of other information remain vulnerable even when youre browsing in incognito mode. For a good overview of parties that might be following you online, take a look at our article on tracking online behavior.
You May Like: Mcafee Livesafe VPN
Cons Of Incognito Mode
Here are some disadvantages of incognito mode.
Doesnt block your IP address from tracking data, only the specific device
Incognito mode can erase data stored on your PC or device, but it cant prevent your ISP or the government from collecting data transmitted beyond your computer. Similarly, routers, firewalls, and proxy servers can still track your browsing activities.
Websites visited can still collect data
When you log into your account on a website, even if youre in incognito mode, that website can still collect data related to your activities.
For instance, if you log into your Twitter or Amazon accounts while in incognito mode, you wont remain anonymous. In a similar way, if you use a Google app, Chrome will still record your cookies and browsing history.
Private Connection Vs Regular Connection
The VPN service will protect your online privacy and security on the connection level, meaning that it encrypts your regular internet connection with their private servers. With this feature, you are browsing the internet as if you are accessing the websites from another location based on the server that you use. Whenever you activate this private connection, and whatever online activity that you do on your device will be completely protected. On the other hand, the incognito mode will use your regular connection without encrypting the connection, since the privacy feature is only applied on the browser level. Thus, whatever online activity that you do outside of the incognito mode is not protected.
Also Check: Does VPN Slow Down Internet Speed
Private Browsing Vs VPN Which One Is More Private
May 26, 2021
4 MIN READ
As people turn to the Internet for news and answers to tough questions, it only makes sense that it would come to know you better than your closest friends and family. When we go online for answers to personal questions, were sharing our deepest secrets with search engines. While some people are happy to share that level of personal information with strangers, some turn to private browsing, or incognito mode, to help protect their personal data.
The thing is, incognito mode doesnt work the way people think it does. When you open an incognito window, youre told that Youve gone incognito. The explanation underneath says that your browsing history, website visits, cookies, and information you put in forms, wont be saved. This is where the confusion starts.
What the incognito explanation doesnt tell you is that your browsing information isnt blocked or hidden from advertisers while in incognito mode. So even though your browsing information wont be saved on your device or available after you close the window, that doesnt stop the internet from seeing everything youve been up to while in that session. Incognito mode Thats why more and more people use virtual private networks, or VPN, to protect their browsing history from prying eyes. If youre new to VPN, this might be the perfect time to learn about what they are, how they work and why you might choose a VPN over private browsing.
Do Incognito Mode Add Extra Safety To VPNs
The thing with Incognito mode is that it doesnt hide your traffic and whereabouts from your Internet Service Provider .
Your VPN, on the other hand, will do just all of that.
A VPN provider will help you cover your tracks by a list of methods:
- All your data is encryptedAll your data is transported through whats called a tunnel. Your requests will be sent through the VPNs servers before they are routed out on the internet to grab the website, information, videos, etc. that youre looking for. Now all of that is routed back to you without telling anyone where you came from or where that data is being presented .
- Your IP is hiddenYou get assigned a new IP when your traffic is sent through the VPN provider. This is very different from whats happening on Incognito.
- No LoggingNow, here we need to be careful. This is NOT true for all VPNs. It seems that not all VPNs are born equally, or at least managed equally well. But as long as you stick to one of the bigger VPN providers we recommend youre good to go. They will definitely not log your data like the free VPN providers will often do.
All of this is not possible with Incognito mode.
Turning on Incognito mode does not really do anything to protect you in these ways.
Google Chrome is also very upfront about this. This is the screen you are presented with when you open the Chrome Browser in Incognito mode:
Don’t Miss: How To Setup VPN On Amazon Fire TV
Does Incognito Mode Hide Ip Addresses
Incognito mode hides your search history from other people who may be using your device. But, unlike a VPN, Incognito mode does not hide your IP address, which is an integral part of your devices identity online. Generally, Incognito mode isnt enough if your aim is to hide your online activity from other users on your network.
If you want to hide your IP address or other activity from people on your network whether youre in a cafe, at an airport, or anywhere else with a public Wi-Fi network you should use a VPN to connect to the internet, instead of privately browsing in Incognito mode. A VPN allows you to and ensures your online activity isnt traced back to you.
Also, a VPN encrypts your device information and data before it even hits the network to connect. Just note that your browsing history will still be visible to anyone with access to your device. For total protection, use a VPN along with Incognito mode.
Going incognito hides your activity from anyone who can access your device. But going incognito does not hide your IP or activity from others on your network.
Why You Should Use A VPN With Incognito Mode
Incognito mode prevents other users on your device seeing your browsing history and personal information.
A VPN stops hackers, trackers, and online spies from seeing your browsing activity and data.
When combined, they create the ultimate online security tool that makes sure nobody, anywhere, can access your private information.
You May Like: Can I Create My Own VPN
What Is Incognito Mode And What Does It Do
Dont you sometimes wish you dont get bombarded with online advertising simply because you Googled a certain topic the previous day?
This is why Incognito Mode is a popular setting.
If you havent tried it, youre missing out on some benefits, like hiding your browsing history or making sure youre logged out of websites as soon as you close the window. But its also important to understand precisely how it works if you want to practice safe online browsing.
So, lets break it down for you.
Can Incognito Mode Be Tracked
Online tracking refers to gathering information about web visitors through the use of analytics and other software tools that are embedded on websites. Companies use this information to create unique online profiles of people, known as a digital fingerprint.
Your digital fingerprint your operating system, browser, location, timezone, language, and even device specifications is collected by scripts running in the background of websites. These scripts are virtually indistinguishable from the scripts responsible for the everyday functioning of the websites you use.
But if tracking can help websites function, why is it bad? The trackers that determine your online fingerprint can identify you with an incredibly high degree of accuracy, meaning your browsing sessions arent as private as you think even in Incognito mode. This can affect you in several ways:
Advertisers can use ad tracking to gather data about your online behavior to spam you with targeted ads.
Some websites may show higher prices for products that youve researched online a form of dynamic pricing.
Many of your favorite websites store huge amounts of information about you. If this data is breached, third parties and data brokers can access, use, or even sell your personal data.
Read Also: How To Use VPN On Android TV
How Does The Incognito Browser Work
In a nutshell, what Google Chromes incognito mode does is hide your browsing history so that it cannot be retrieved later. This includes visited addresses, cookies, and other data that is gathered throughout your browsing session. The common misconception is that if you use incognito mode, no one can see what you are doing and you are completely anonymous online. This is not true, and heres why.
While your data and browser history will be inaccessible to those who try to view it on your computer, all your data down to every entry, including your timestamps and bandwidth, is traceable back to your IP address, making incognito mode not private at all. In fact, Google clearly states within the incognito browser that your activity may still be visible to:
- Websites you visit, including the ads and resources used on those sites
- Your employer, school, or whoever runs the network youre using
- Your internet service provider
Unless the biggest security breach you fear is one from people around you physically, this means that incognito modes security is nowhere near secure. People can still trace what you do online to you and unless you encrypt your data with a VPN, the government and other third parties will be able to view it easily.