All major web browsers have an incognito or private browsing option. For the most part, incognito browsing is a bit like playing peekaboo with a two-year-old, they knows you’re there but they can’t see you, therefore they think they are successfully hiding from you. But is it useful in adding an extra layer to your cybersecurity?

Screenshot of how to open an incognito browse on a mobile phone

How to open an incognito browser on your mobile phone

What does the incognito mode do?


Simply put, when you’re done browsing and close the incognito tab, your browsing history and cookies are wiped. Sites you regularly visit won’t recognize you, you won’t be signed in anywhere, it’s basically like a blank slate every time you open the incognito tab, but it is not anonymous browsing.

Don’t get me wrong, incognito browsing has its uses. For example, instead of signing in and out of an account in order to access another on the same website or service, you can simply pop open the incognito tab and sign in there. Perhaps you have some searches to run that you don’t want to appear in your search history. Web developers can also use it to test tracking features like cookies.


Is it truly secure and private?


Short answer, no. Yes, when closing the tab certain data is wipes, but your session was not private, or encrypted for that matter. If for example, you logged into your Facebook account using the incognito window your session will still be tracked and that data will still be associated with your account, the same with any other site you log into. Data mining and tracking are far-reaching and rather complicated, but these mechanisms are so heavily integrated with the online world and almost impossible to bypass.

Almost every single public website tracks your activity in some way, for example, e-commerce websites make use of cookies to remember what you added to your cart, even without having an account. Facebook uses their Pixel technology to display advertising on your timeline, Google Analytics tracks your session data when visiting a website.


How can you keep your data and website safe?


True anonymity is a rather tough nut to crack but not impossible, in fact, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the internet plans to rebuild it to seize control of data from tech giants.