Beware of the Private Browsing, There Might Be Some Digital Clues Left Behind

Your private browsing isn't that private after all

We all know why someone chooses to open up a private browsing window. Sometimes we want to go to NSFW websites without any shame. Moreover, using public computers is another reason why the Incognito Mode is so popular.

However, even though this protects you to a certain degree, it doesn’t mean that you’ve covered your tracks entirely.

Chrome’s Incognito Mode is fantastic if you want to conceal your browsing history. It doesn’t even record it, so anyone who uses the computer after you will not be able to see what you were looking at. Nevertheless, some digital clues can be left behind, according to Frank Wang, a doctoral candidate in computer science at MIT.

Digital Footprints

Just because you used the Incognito Mode, it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone cannot find out what you were doing. What’s more, it’s rather easy to discover your Internet “sins” – you just have to follow the digital footprints left behind on your OS.

Whenever you go to a website, the browser has to convert letters into numbers – and that can leave clues in the DNS cache. So, if a tech-savvy person wants to find out which website you used, he can do that without too much hassle. Why? Well, because the private browser cannot access and delete that cache.

Also, bear in mind that your OS can write data to your hard drive while you’re using the private mode. The system does this when the computer lacks enough memory. To help it run smoothly, the system transfers a part of the data onto the hard drive so that it can use memory efficiently.

However, that means that certain pictures and content can end up on your hard drive – and the browser will not delete that when you close the window.

Why Does This Happen?

The main issue here is the fact that your browser doesn’t have the privilege to delete data in those parts of the system, says Wang. And, even if that were possible, you wouldn’t give an app that much access.

The Solution

So, what can you do if your privacy is in jeopardy? Wang has a solution. He suggests using Veil, a new system that could solve these issues.

Even though the service is still just a concept, you should know more about it because it could give you the privacy you need. Its main aim is to conceal your tracks.

Therefore, according to Wang, you would go to the Veil website and navigate to your preferred site from there. The system would then issue a request to a blinding server.

Because of that, your provider would not be able to see which site you’re visiting. The only thing visible would be your connection to the blinding server.

What’s more, this encryption service would allow you to stop relying on Google. Given the fact that the private mode in Chrome is not that private, why would you even consider it?

A societal computing doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University, Hana Habib, says that there are other flaws you should consider.

For example, the potential session crash in browsers that delete the data only when you properly close the window. If you experience a crash, that browser’s deletion process will be interrupted. So, the data might not get deleted after all.

Ms. Habib also has an idea on how to improve the private mode feature. She calls for the use of a “time-out function.” That function would close any windows you leave behind during your private session. It is similar to the log out feature most banks have. If you haven’t been active for a while in a particular tab, the bank signs you out.

Who Else Knows What You’re Doing?

Your Internet provider knows which websites you’re visiting. And, if you use a computer at work, your boss could also find out what you’ve been up to.

Final Words

You cannot have it all. Even though private browsing has some flaws, it still gets the main job done. It protects you against other people who might use the computer after you. And that’s the only goal for some people who are using the private mode regularly.


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