How Secure Are the Different Browsing Modes?

Have you heard about the difference between anonymous browsing modes? Perhaps you’ve noticed a different browsing mode when you are opening a new tab. These are what are called private browsing or incognito modes. Each software vendor might add a signature twist to the name (such is the world of marketing and brands), but the technology is essentially the same. For the article, let’s call these modes anonymous modes to avoid any confusion.

Each browser software vendor, whether that is Microsoft Edge or Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, or several others (mainstream or not), will have such a mode. This is simply because they want to give you the option of “private” browsing which does not log your cookies or history. However, the question is, how private and how secure is this browsing mode? Do you want to find out more about incognito mode (anonymous mode)? Then, you are at the right place.

Browsing in private on a Macbook

You see, many people confuse an anonymous browsing mode as something that makes you invisible. This is a serious misconception. There are things that anonymous mode can do, and things they cannot do. This is why software vendors usually include a warning as soon as you open an anonymous browsing tab. As far as security is concerned, people often think this mode is more secure, too. This, however, is also a great misconception!

Now, let’s distill this information into something you can use as an avid internet and software user!

What Is Anonymous Browsing?

We all have different motivations for using “private” browsers. You could wish to check up on embarrassing symptoms, hide your Christmas shopping searches on the family computer, or play video games on your work laptop. We all engage in online activities where we desire to maintain our anonymity.

Many of us feel like secret agents when we use the “private” mode on our internet browser. We hop from website to website without concern for who can see what we’re doing. However, despite having a dark mode or a spy icon, the “private” surfing window is actually considerably less secure than it could make you think.

The “private” browser should be opened for a variety of excellent reasons. It’s crucial to be aware that this method of internet browsing might not actually provide you with the desired level of anonymity. How effective is your internet browser at hiding the fact that you were ever there?

Most web browsers include private windows for users to use, especially when they want to hide their digital footprints. However, hiding digital traces in anonymous mode alone is not enough. If you’re interested in learning how to enable incognito mode on different browsers, we’ve written a comprehensive guide.

The “private” option won’t make you anonymous online, so keep that in mind. Installing a VPN could help you if you’re seeking something more secure that will keep your internet activity well hidden.

How Secure Is Anonymous Browsing?

Firefox Private Browsing Mode

Is anonymous browsing mode secure and private? The short answer to this is: no. Want to be anonymous? You will need a virtual private network (VPN) to do so. This also goes for security Now that that is out of the way, you still should use anonymous browsing mode. Why?

Anonymous mode in itself may be a misleading way to lead users to believe they are invisible. Several major software companies have commented that this was a mistake in the past, and have thus included notices each time you open a private tab.

For instance: this is what Safari says when opening a private tab in their browser:

“Safari will keep your browsing history private for all tabs in this window. After you close this window, Safari won’t remember the pages you visited, your search history, or your AutoFill information.”

You undoubtedly assume that your “private” browser will remain that way. It isn’t. Several web browsers come with what are referred to as “private browsers” as basic functionality. These browsers go by names like Private Browsing, Private Tab, and Private Window. Maintaining complete privacy isn’t one of the things that using a private browsing mode can help you with. That does not imply that they are useless.

It’s crucial to know what a private browser can and cannot do. For instance, did you know that even when you browse in private mode in most browsers, your browsing history can still be accessed? You probably want security and privacy when you use the internet. How do you obtain it then?

Some web browsers that provide private surfing include a disclaimer explaining why utilizing the functionality could not completely ensure privacy. Private browsing aims to stop data like browsing histories or downloaded cookies from being automatically saved on your device. However, in rare cases, downloaded or bookmarked files may still be kept. When the browser window is closed, the private browsing session ends.

The problem still exists: The organization that supplies the Internet connection, such as a school, institution, or company, as well as the Internet service provider, may still be able to see what you do online. Your session can also be visible on the websites you visit.

Remaining truly anonymous simply means anonymous browsing is not enough. To hide your IP address and anonymize yourself, a simple browser won’t do. However, by adding a premium VPN to the mix, you are there! Use a VPN such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Cyberghost Surfshark, or otherwise to change your IP address at the network level. This means your ISP and the government have no sense of what you are browsing (and neither do hackers!).

Combining a VPN with any anonymous mode is even better! This means your internet traffic will be anonymized while your browser is not going to store your searches, cookies, or autofill information and will not broadcast certain identifying properties of your device’s software and hardware. A match made in heaven! Have responsible fun with anonymous mode (and perhaps, a VPN!).

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