"Private" is a relevant term. This should be quite clear when talking about a "private browser" - setting up a web browser that is supposed to allow you to hide your history from others using the same computer.
While private (or anonymous) mode may cover your business to some degree, there are other ways in which not only people on your network but also your ISP, government, hacker.
What is a private browsing feature?
Before we get to the heart of the matter, let's first define what we mean by "private mode" or "anonymous browsing". This feature first appeared in Apple's Safari browser in 2005. It didn't take long for rival browser vendors, such as Google and Mozilla, to follow suit. It soon became a key feature of any Web browser.
Private browsing creates a separate browsing session that is isolated from the main. Any websites you visit are not logged in your device history. If you sign in to a privately owned website, cookies are not saved when you close the window.
Private browsing tabs do not have access to the cookies you use in the main session. For example, if you sign in to Facebook and then enter incognito mode, you will need to sign in again.
This makes it a little more difficult for third-party websites to track your activity while you are in private browsing. It also allows you to easily access multiple web accounts at once.
Note that it is easier to browse the so-called "soft paywalls" - sites where you have access to a few pages before you are asked to sign in or sign up.
The limits of private browsing
Browsers that offer a private feature often go to great lengths to emphasize that it can not protect you from everything. At best, it provides a subtle level of privacy to people working from their own private networks.
Incognito mode does not prevent corporate or training network administrators from tracking your activity. Also, it does not necessarily prevent someone from spying on your browsing habits if you use a public access point in a cafe or restaurant.
Again, private browsing is concerned exclusively with how data is stored while you are browsing from your personal device and not with its transmission over a network.
In addition, there are ways in which private browsing can help locally. If your computer is infected with malware that monitors your network traffic and DNS requests, incognito mode may not help. Also, it can not help the techniques "fingerprinting", In which third parties (usually ad networks) try to identify distinctive features of your computer to monitor its activity on a network.
Fingerprinting is an interesting phenomenon. It seems to attract less attention than malware and trojans, despite its ability to detect people with astonishing accuracy. As you browse the Internet, third-party websites may collect information about your computer, such as time zone, screen resolution, browser, addons, the language you use, and more.
Any of this information may be trivial on its own, but all together, it forms part of your device's unique profile. The research from Electronic Frontier Foundation it shows that only one in 286.777 browsers has the same precision setting as another (or fingerprinting) [PDF] .
The EFF has a service called Panopticlick , which can show your browser uniqueness rating.
Is Internet Privacy Realistic?
What does electronic "privacy" really mean? In simple terms, Internet privacy indicates the ability to communicate and browse without an outside third party being able to monitor our activities. Currently, there are too many obstacles to this.
What about your ISP? Do not forget the government. There is also the advertising industry, which provides precision-targeted advertising through sophisticated tracking systems, such as the fingerprinting mentioned earlier.
Yes, the VPN industry promises to offer privacy if you invest in its products, but no one can say that this is 100% true. True privacy does not seem to exist. The best you can expect is something close to a high level. But to get there, you will inevitably have to invest time and money and be prepared to suffer a degraded browsing experience.
Do you want to prevent your network administrator from seeing what you see? Well, you will need a VPN - and you need to make sure it does not hold logs.
Are the measures extreme? Probably yes, but it is necessary if you want to ensure your internet privacy.