How Private are Private Browsers?
Whether you’re trying to go incognito on your work device or hide your browsing history on a home desktop, odds are you’ve tapped into your browser’s PBM, or private browser mode, at one point or another - perhaps the most common being Chrome’s Incognito..
Private browsing can create a false sense of security, depending on the expectations you have for the experience. There are many limitations associated with private browsing and most browsers points out theirs when a user launches private mode. The limitations most relevant to you will vary based on a number of conditions, including what you’re hoping to hide, as well as your pre-installed software and the browser that you’re using.
How Private Browsing Works
When you launch a private browsing session in most browsers, the browser alerts you of a few things from the get go:
Just like normal browsing, cookies get saved in your browser’s cache when you visit a website. But in private browsing mode, those cookies get deleted upon closing the private window or tab. While PBM disables other users of your device from seeing your browsing history while in PBM, this isn’t the case as far as internet service providers are concerned. ISPs retain all of your browsing data, including that collected during PBM sessions.
Where and How You Browse Matters
Most at home devices and laptops have some form of malware or virus protection software installed on them. These programs never stop working to protect your device from potentially dangerous sites, and therefore track data regardless of whether you’re browsing in PBM or not.
If you’re using a work device, it’s possible that surveillance software is being used to track your online activity while at work. This locally installed software will - like any malware or antivirus software - continue tracking your data in Incognito Mode.
Additionally, which browser you choose to run will mandate how private your activity in PBM remains. Chrome and Internet Explorer both automatically disable any extensions that may be running in the background, and prevent them from storing your data locally as well as remotely once in PBM. Safari and Firefox, however, do not prevent extensions from running while browsing privately.
Any content downloaded while in PBM will be saved on your device. This means that documents, videos, and any other media you download in private browsing mode will be stored locally, and made accessible to any other users of the device (unless you take further action to protect such files). Furthermore, downloads can always be traced back to your IP address - thus making it possible for content providers to track down users who are downloading content illegally (such as pirated music and movies, etc).
Sites like Facebook and Amazon will track your activity if you’re logged into an account, regardless of whether or not you’re browsing privately. This means that any products you view while browsing in PBM may show up in an ad when browsing at a later point in a non-private window or tab. A general rule of thumb is: if you’re logged in, you’re being tracked.
Luckily, there are options available. As people become more aware of ways in which they’re being tracked, the market is being filled by new browsers that assume consumer awareness when it comes to privacy. Tenta Browser private by default. Since we take a zero-knowledge approach to your data, we're free to explore and build a browser where your privacy is paramount, not an afterthought.
- Private by default.
- Built in unlimited VPN.
- Third party DNS options, including Tenta DNS.
- Locked behind a PIN code only you know.
- Zones group your favorite sites by VPN location.
- Customize your browsing sessions by Zone.
- Downloaded media is encrypted and stored in Tenta Vault.
- Built in media players.
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