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If you think browsing in ‘Private Mode’ is really private… think again!

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All of the major browsers have a feature that provides greater privacy.

Internet Explorer and Edge browser call it 'InPrivate Browsing'
Chrome calls it 'Incognito'
Firefox calls it 'Private Browsing'
Safari calls it a 'Private Window'

Millions use these features for greater privacy however in a recent report by DuckDuckGo it turns out that very, very few understand the technology and most were shocked when they found out how little protection it affords.

Privacy features, such as those described above, do enable web browsing that clears browsing history and file cache after use... but only on your computer. Websites, search engines, internet service providers, and governments can still easily track you across the web. Since most people are really not that concerned about what is on their own computer (unless you are using a public computer) then really, these incognito modes are doing nothing for your privacy... accept maybe give you a false sense of security.

Note these key findings of the DuckDuckGo report:

76% of the 5710 people surveyed were unable to accurately identify the benefits of Private Browsing. In fact about:

  • 40% thought that it prevented websites from tracking them on the Internet.
  • 40% thought that it prevented ads from tracking them
  • 35% thought that it prevented search engines from knowing about their searches

Clearly there is a huge gap in what is provided with 'Private Browsing' and what people think is provided!

This gap is further identified by this statistic from the survey:

65% of the respondents reported feeling “Surprised”, “Misled,” “Confused,” or “Vulnerable” upon learning about the limitations of Private Browsing.

Tech Next Door is here to protect the vulnerable. We are not opposed to Private Browsing but think people need to understand it's limitations. If you use Private Browsing on your computer and were surprised to learn that the amount of privacy provided is actually very poor then here are a couple of tips.

  • Use a search engine like DuckDuckGo.com that does not track anything. There is also a DuckDuckGo extention for Chrome and Firefox to provide more robust privacy features.
  • Firefox has taken steps to improve privacy features to include tracking from ads and other websites.
  • There other browsers that offer way better privacy that the big 4 mentioned in this article. In a coming article we will consider a few of them.

About the Author Joel LaRusic

Joel LaRusic is Founder of Tech Next Door, an IT solutions and support firm dedicated to security-forward results. Small business is often low-hanging fruit for cyber-criminals. Joel and his team all share the same mantra – We’re sick and tired of people getting ripped off and now we are dedicated to protecting the vulnerable!