February 6, 2023

Google Chrome and nearly all other web browsers offer an “incognito” or private mode designed to let you browse the web privately. Therefore, any websites you visit in incognito mode will not appear in your browsing history and will not remember your personal information. But when using incognito mode, are you actually browsing completely incognito?

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Be careful when using “incognito” mode on Google Chrome.
(Fox News)

What else can “Stealth” track?

When using incognito mode on Chrome, recent reports indicate that Google can still:

  • Track every search you make on Google
  • Track every suggested link you click
  • Navigates you to a URL; just as buildings and houses have street addresses, web pages have unique addresses to help people find them. On the Internet, these addresses are called URLs.

This is all because your IP address (or the unique address by which you identify your device on the internet or local network) is not hidden when using incognito mode, so your Internet Service Provider (ISP) still handles all your domain names System (DNS) requirements. DNS translates human-readable domain names (for example, www.amazon.com) into machine-readable IP addresses (for example, 192.0.2.44).

This means that even though your browsing history may not show up in the history toolbar while in incognito mode, your ISP still has a detailed account of every site you visit and keeps a database of your web history. Make your browsing history accessible to third-party sources, including governments.

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Photos of people visiting the Google search engine.

Photos of people visiting the Google search engine.
(Fox News)

Are there any advantages to incognito mode?

Even if it’s not as private as it seems, browsing incognito still has some advantages. That is, it prevents cookies (tracking devices that web browsers use to save your personal information) from being established on your device. When using incognito mode:

  • All cookies are deleted when you close your session
  • When you log in again, you will not be tracked by websites that use cookies
  • Far fewer trackers are left in the browser than in a normal window.

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For safer private browsing, consider using an alternative search engine

Some search engines offer more secure private browsing than Chrome, even in incognito mode. Our top recommended alternative search engines include:

Startpage.com website

A Dutch-based search engine that gets you Google search results while protecting your privacy according to stricter EU privacy standards. This private and secure search engine does not store personal data, track user search history, or serve ads based on your search history.

dog pile

A metasearch engine that aggregates results from other top search engines, including Yahoo!, Google, and Bing. All its results are grouped by categories to help you search grouped results.

ecosystem

A private search engine that offers encrypted searches and is B-lab certified, meaning it operates with a high degree of transparency and accountability. Best of all, 80% of its profits are donated to non-profit organizations dedicated to planting trees.

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Other ways to stay private

Perhaps the most valuable tool for protecting your online browsing is investing in a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN is your chance to establish a protected internet connection while using the public internet. A VPN also allows you to block your IP address.

Click the magnifying glass icon at the top of my site and search CyberGuy.com for “best VPN” to see my expert reviews of the best VPNs.

Photo from the CyberGuy website, which has an article on which VPN to choose.

Photo from the CyberGuy website, which has an article on which VPN to choose.
(Fox News)

For more of my privacy tips, go to CyberGuy.com and be sure to subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report newsletter by clicking the “Free Newsletter” link at the top of my website.

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