How Private Browsing Works

How Private Browsing Works.

Private Browsing come in many names depending on the web browser you use.

explorerInternet Explorer – InPrivate Browsing.
chrome Chrome – Incognito Mode.
firefoxFirefox – Private Browsing / Private Window.
operaOpera – New Private Tab.
safariSafari – Private Browsing.

It uses the same basic features in every web browser.  While private browsing offers some privacy it doesn’t makes you completely anonymous when you are online.  When you use Private Browsing mode it changes the way your browser behaves.


What Do Web Browsers Normally Do?

When you browse the web your web browser normally stores information about your browsing history.  Whenever you visit a website your browser saves information such as your browsing history, tracking cookies from the websites you have visited, list of downloaded files,  Passwords you have entered into sites, auto-complete website addresses in the address bar, and stores a copy of recent websites in the web browsers cache.

If someone else uses your computer they can easily find out information about what websites you visited recently through the browsers history or find out sites you have visited by starting to type an address into the address bar and have the auto-complete list sites you have visited.  They could also gain access to your online accounts if you had your web browser save your password for any website.

You can disable some of the information that is collected in your browser but you need to understand how the default settings work for private web browsing works.


How Does Private Browsing Work?

When you enable Private Browsing mode your web browser does not permanently store any information that is entered.  It will not permanently store your browsing history, cookies, or information you enter into forms like it would in normal mode.  While the private browsing window is open it may temporary store some of this information however once you close the browser windows all the information is discarded.

Private browsing function can also act like a new isolated browsing session.  If you have more than one account such as an email account or Facebook that you need to login to simultaneously with you can use a private browsing window to open multiple accounts at the same time.

Private browsing also functions as a completely isolated browser session – for example, if you’re logged into Facebook in your normal browsing session and open a private-browsing window, you won’t be logged into Facebook in that private-browsing window. You can view sites with Facebook integration in the private-browsing window without Facebook tying the visit to your logged-in profile. This also allows you to use the private-browsing session to log into multiple accounts at once – for example, you could be logged into a Google account in your normal browsing session and log into another Google account in the private-browsing window.

Private browsing protects you from people with access to your computer snooping at your browsing history – your browser won’t leave any tracks on your computer. It also prevents websites from using cookies stored on your computer to track your visits. However, your browsing is not completely private and anonymous when using private-browsing mode.


Threats On Your Computer

While private browsing windows prevent your browser from storing information about you, but it doesn’t stop other applications on your computer from monitoring your browsing sessions. If you have spyware, a key logger or other programs running on your computer, that program could monitor your browsing activities. Some computers may also have special software that monitors and tracks web browsing installed on them. Using private browsing won’t protect you against parental-control type software that take screenshots of your web browsing and monitors the websites you visit.

Private browsing helps prevent people from seeing where you have visited in your web browser after you have closed it, but if your computer isn’t secure or has other monitoring software installed they can still track where you have been online.  If your computer is secure, you shouldn’t have to worry about this.


Network Monitoring

Private browsing only affects your computer or device. You can decide if you want to store browsing history, cookies etc on your computer or device, but what it can’t do is tell the other computers, servers and routers to forget your browsing history.  Whenever you visit a website, the information leaves your computer and travels through other computer systems to reach the website’s server. If you’re on a work or school network, this traffic goes through a router on that network – The activity can then be logged by an employer or school and track your website activity. Even when you’re on your own network at home, all the request go through your internet service provider, your internet service provider can log the traffic at this point. The request then goes to the website’s server itself, where the website’s server can log your access.

Private browsing doesn’t stop any of this logging. It doesn’t leave any history lying around on your computer for people to see, but your history can be logged elsewhere.


Anonymous Web Browsing

If you really want to browse the web anonymously, try downloading and using Tor.

Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.

Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.

Further information can be found on the Tor site Here.  Tor offers a way to get around web censorship and keep the NSA from snooping on your web activity.

VPN (Virtual Private Network):

Notice: All VPN’s May log traffic from your IP.  Most do not support Torrents or P2P connections.

A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, such as the Internet. It enables a computer to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if it is directly connected to the private network, while benefiting from the functionality, security and management policies of the private network.  A VPN is created by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection through the use of dedicated connections, virtual tunneling protocols, or traffic encryptions.

A virtual private network connection across the Internet is similar to a wide area network (WAN) link between sites. From a user perspective, the extended network resources are accessed in the same way as resources available within the private network.

VPNs allow employees to securely access their company’s intranet while traveling outside the office. Similarly, VPNs securely connect geographically separated offices of an organization, creating one cohesive network. VPN technology is also used by Internet users to connect to proxy servers for the purpose of protecting personal identity and location.


Proxy Servers:

In computer networks, a proxy server is a server (a computer system or an application) that acts as an intermediary for requests from clients seeking resources from other servers. A client connects to the proxy server, requesting some service, such as a file, connection, web page, or other resource available from a different server and the proxy server evaluates the request as a way to simplify and control its complexity. Proxies were invented to add structure and encapsulation to distributed systems. Today, most proxies are web proxies, facilitating access to content on the World Wide Web and providing anonymity.




NONE – No anonymity; remote host knows your IP and knows you are using proxy.

LOW – Low anonymity; remote host does not know your IP, but it knows you are using proxy.

MEDIUM – Medium anonymity; remote host knows you are using proxy, and thinks it knows your IP, however this is the proxy’s IP and not yours.

HIGH – High anonymity; remote host does not know your IP and has no direct proof of proxy usage.  If such hosts do not send additional header strings it may be considered as high-anonymous.

HIGH +KA –  High anonymity; remote host does not know your IP and has no direct proof of proxy usage.  If such hosts do not send additional header strings it may be considered as high-anonymous.  If a high-anonymous proxy supports keep-alive you can consider it to be extremely-anonymous.


Updated: June 6, 2014 — 11:13 pm

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