Whether you’re looking for health information, or shopping for a surprise present for a loved one, there are times when you don’t want your Internet browsing to be tracked. And this is where the Chrome Incognito browser mode is supposed to help.
Incognito does not mean what you think
According to the dictionary, incognito is an adjective that means “having one’s true identity concealed”. Or more simply, no one can tell who you are.
But when it comes to the Chrome web browser, incognito mode is a lot less secretive than you would expect. Despite claiming to allow you to browse in private, you can – and will – be identified as you surf the web using Incognito mode.
Advertisers know who you are
When you open an Incognito browser tab, Chrome displays a message, “Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won’t see your activity.” This would tend to suggest that no one can see what you are looking at.
But the reality is that Incognito offers no protection at all from website operators and advertisers. Anything you search will still be saved against your Google profile for instance. And various advertising trackers will continue to track you across the web, adding your “secret” activity to what they already know about you.
Advertisers know where you are
Advertisers also use a technology known as ‘geolocation’ to figure out where you are. They use this information to show you ads for products and services in your local area, especially when using your mobile phone. But sometimes this can feel intrusive.
Again, Incognito does nothing to hide location data. So advertisers still know where you are – and they save that information to your advertising profile too.
Malware can still get through
Another common misconception is that browsing incognito protects your computer from malware and viruses. And again, this is completely untrue.
Incognito mode doesn’t provide any additional security protections. If malware can install through your browser in “regular” mode, it will have no problem as you browse privately either. The only way to avoid virus infections is using a dedicated antimalware tool like Panda Dome.
What is Incognito mode for?
At this point you’re probably wondering what Chrome Incognito mode is actually for – but it does have one helpful function. Private browsing is designed to protect your privacy at home.
When browsing in normal mode, your browser records a complete history of every website you visit. It also collects various cookies and images that are stored on your computer to help make webpages load more quickly, or to remember passwords and logins. Anyone with access to your computer can use this information to reveal your secret browsing habits.
When surfing in Incognito mode, these cookies and temporary files are automatically removed; the web browsing history is also deleted when you close the browser. This prevents anyone being able to check up on what you have been doing on your computer.
So even though online advertisers know exactly what you’ve been looking at online, your partner’s birthday present will still be a surprise – for them.
Randomly the incognito slider bar showed up on my Android in the upper left hand corner on my chrome browser , it’s annoying , it’s pushed everything down and it’s deleted a couple of shortcuts by being there. I can’t get rid of. I’m at the point of changing browsers, not yo mention I never use ridiculous incognito anyhow
Can you say monopoly! Use DuckDuckGo no tracking.
So without cookies how exactly are advertisers keeping track of your browsing habits?
I’m also confused when you say that information is saved to my Google profile. When using incognito mode whenever I open a Google service like say calendar or Gmail it asks for me to sign into my Google account every time (unlike when I browse when not incognito it knows who I am). So is it still saving to my account even though it doesn’t know who I Am.
More clarification on those statements would be great.
Presumably, they mean you still have the same IP which means they can easily see who is doing the search.
The solution is to use StartPage, which gives you Google results without giving anything to Google. Another solution is to use a web browser with a better incognito mode. Brave has incognito mode with a Tor proxy. That way, your IP is hidden.
Such misleading information. When you use incognito you are only tracked within the incognito session, separately from your normal session. This is pretty much useless for tracking sites because a typical incognito session is short lived.
It is only an issue if you login to a system used for advertisement while incognito.
Bet you’ll delete this.
Who uses incognito mode for shopping? I recon most people use it for watching naughty videos…
Dude, please use “porn” as an appropriate word. I’m dying laughing since read your ” Naughty videos” Phrase.
“Anything you search will still be saved against your Google profile for instance”
How would this happen if I’m not logged in to my account? The cookies from the normal tabs are not shared to incognito tabs so activity can’t even be linked to my advertisement profile.
Of course if one logs in in incognito mode then it’s no longer incognito isn’t it so of course they’ll be tracked with their account but this is not the browser’s fault.
This is the dumbest article I’ve seen. Chrome clearly says all of these things on the new tab page in incognito. Chrome never claims to do any of the things listed here.
“Anything you search will still be saved against your Google profile…” This is misleading at best. Your searches will only be associated with your Google profile if you actually login to your Google account while in Incognito mode.
What a click bait title with so much misinformation. Chrome’s incognito window doesn’t say that it does not allow cookies. In fact it says “Chrome won’t save… Cookies and site data.” If you login to your Google account while in an incognito window then Google will save your history. This article (and the many like it on the internet) would be actually useful if it described how to use Chrome incognito windows rather than just spewing incorrect information presented as facts.
I think most people know this
“When you open an Incognito browser tab, Chrome displays a message, “Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won’t see your activity.” This would tend to suggest that no one can see what you are looking at.”
How? How would it “tend” to suggest that? It clearly says “OTHER PEOPLE WHO USE THIS DEVICE”, how in ANY way would that suggest 3rd parties, off-device?
Also, to the commenters confused about how advertisers track users without having a solid cookie trail, there are many good articles online on advanced attribution strategies used by ad and analytics networks that help collate user activity from non-logged in sessions, and separate devices without directly shared accounts. These are mostly responsible for the misconceptions a lot of users have about their devices or social media apps eavesdropping on them with device microphones, when in reality it’s advanced usage and traffic pattern analysis and other state of the art tracking methods successfully tying users activities across device and platform limits.
For those of you who believe that this article is misleading probably also WRONGLY BELIEVE that if you use a VPN you cannot be tracked, now in reference to the VPN you CAN BE TRACKED as it only masks your usage to the computer illiterate. The same goes for INCOGNITO MODE!
What most of you are NOT aware of is that since Google’s implementation back in 1996 they have NEVER DELETED ANYTHING typed into ANY of their search bars!
Whilst I appreciate that PANDA’S wording is slightly loose, the point PANDA is making is FACTUALLY CORRECT! Incognito DOES NOT PROVIDE UNTRACEABLE ACCESS!