Did you know that Incognito window in Google Chrome was not fully private?

When we browse the internet, we usually switch to the incognito window to make sure our searches are private. We might think that the search is completely private but it is not quite true. ISP tracks the list of websites that we are visiting. But additionally, there was a report from Microsoft recently about how private windows are not private. We all know that Microsoft is working on enhancing or integrating Microsoft Edge browser with Chromium engine which is also used by Google Chrome. During their analysis, they found that even though there is a private option available in Chromium, it is not fully private as the browser tracks some of the user information and remembers it to make it easier for the user when they browser using private mode next time.

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This was identified by one of the Microsoft developers and a pull request was made to the Chromium repository to make the search in private browsers actually private. This rings a bell on our head. So far, all the searches that we made using our Google Chrome Incognito window were not fully private. It was stored somewhere. Maybe not all the information but at least some of the information was stored somewhere.

ISP knows everything

The first thing is that our ISP(Internet Service Provider) know all the sites that we are visiting. They may not have detailed information on what username and password we used to connect to the websites but they definitely know what websites we visited. For example, if we are visiting a site that is completely banned everywhere, something like a drug website or a child porn website, the Internet service provider will still know that we visited the site. Every information will be tracked by the IP address we use.

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The advantage of using a private session in our browser is to make sure the sensitive information like username and passwords are not exposed and are not stored in the history or something. For example, Google provides a cloud feature where we can keep our history and password information in their cloud servers using our account. All that we have to do is just log in to the browser using our Google account and it stores every detail in the cloud. Again when we login from another system to Google Chrome browser, all the information are restored to the new system which makes it convenient and easy for us. But from the security perspective, there is a risk.

The information stored in the browser are usually system specific and most of it is not known to the ISP. They just gather information on the list of websites we visited and how many times we visited the website. That’s all.

Information used for Analytics

All the information that we store in the cloud servers of Google is being used by them for analytics purpose. When we visit a shopping website to buy something and then decide to close the window and browse something, we will still be getting ads everywhere about the products that we were trying to purchase from the shopping websites. This is where Google uses analytics to store our preferences and search results and provide better ads for us when we browse the internet.

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I’m not sure if this was used and applicable even if we browse through our incognito window. I remember seeing ads related to websites that I browse through my incognito window. I’m not completely sure. If that was the case, I guess Google should stop analyzing what we browse through our incognito window. Sometimes these ads can even get annoying. Many people have already moved towards using browsers like Brave and Duck Duck Go to get an ads-free experience along with great privacy.

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