Can Private Browsing Really Protect You Online?

The rise of retargeting/remarketing campaigns have made it impossible to make one innocent Google query without a trail of advertisements following you for months.

Google has target me for stuff like magic vitality formulas, middle-aged dating and some hair solutions from the moment I turned 40… not exactly what I want to be reminded of each time I open a browser.

Marketers spend a fair amount of time creating your “persona,” which basically means knowing how you behave as a person and as a consumer. Some marketers do come with the good intention of advertising stuff you might consider relevant.

However, in this day and age, the average consumer is search-engine literate and knows exactly where to find what he or she wants. Still, aggressive marketers try to leech onto your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They hunt you down by exposing you again and again to emotionally triggering ads.

private search engines - why to use them?

Even if you don’t fall for it, it does become an annoying distraction. I don’t like the feeling that someone knows everything about me and follows me everywhere in cyberspace. The fact that someone tries to trigger me to purchase stuff by playing on my insecurities and fears is already crossing the limits.

Another thing to consider is that once your information is out there, the government can request it.  As seen in the last US election and as declared by some candidates, your personal privacy is not the highest priority to those in power.

As awareness is growing of the risks of leaving your digital footprint, Google and other search engines have started to offer private or what they call Incognito search mode.

Supposedly, searching Incognito should protect you from all the harm in the world, including terrorists and alien invasions. However, in reality the Incognito mode is far from being safe or private.

What Incognito search really accomplishes …and what it doesn’t

Basically, Incognito mode is designed to keep your browsing activity off your computer so nothing is left in your browsing history, including cookies. However, Google will not hide your IP address. This means Google can track you and associate you with all your Incognito searches as long as they come from the same internet connection.

Incognito does delete all the cookies you accumulate during your browsing session. Even though it doesn’t keep browsing history on your computer, it does collect this data and keep it on its on servers for future advertising use.

The net result is that your browsing history, while invisible to you, is completely visible to everyone else.

Google will actually keep your data public during incognito mode unless you log off your Google account, according to Google’s own help page.

When you use Google Incognito, both your internet provider and the search engine get your information. It’s also visible to any websites you visit, and your boss if you’re using a work computer.

The bottom line is that Google private browsing is an ineffective way to protect your precious information from getting to the hands of those who don’t necessarily hold your best interests in mind.

private browsing as protection from cyber crime

So how can I make my browsing really private?

The best way to surf the web without living a digital footprint is to use services that don’t track you at all.

In the last few years, several highly specialized search engines have emerged.

These “private” search engines are genuinely private since they developed special technology that block services providers, hackers, and marketers alike from getting your browsing info.

Specialized private search engines such as DuckDuckGo, Ixquick and MyPrivateSearch have a clear policy of keeping absolutely no personal data.

Some of them are even able to hide your personal IP data by using special proxy servers and switching your identity with one taken from their identity pool.

The specific method used does not matter. Most leading private search engines offer fairly good protection and high-quality search results with the added benefits of fewer ads.

I personally like MyPrivateSearch for its newer technology, and the fact it doesn’t retain any personal information what so ever. It has a clean, simple design and it’s as straightforward as using Google.