Skip to Content

Your private browsing isn’t as private as you want it to be

Unless you are visiting sites you shouldn’t be while at work or otherwise trying to hide your internet tastes from others, chances are you don’t normally concern yourself with concealing your browser history.

Still, the idea that people could look up exactly what sites you’ve been checking out is not exactly comforting, which is why browsers offer features to let you peruse the internet with privacy and without leaving a trace of where you have been.

At least, that’s what we’ve been led to believe.

It turns out that while browsers do a decent job of concealing your search history, even private modes are not able to scrub the records entirely. So when you visit a site — any site — a digital footprint gets left behind. It may not be big or obvious, but it’s there.

How your browsing history survives

There are a few different ways this happens and can be discovered.

You see, every website has a domain name service, or DNS, which is what your browser actually connects to. In doing so, it needs to translate the DNS letters into numbers, with that process leaving behind some clues as to where you have been.

That’s not the only way your browsing history could survive. It’s also possible that your operating system could save information on your hard drive while you are using the private mode in your browser. It would do that to help manage the computer’s memory better, which is intended to make your experience run smoother and faster. While a noble mission, to accomplish it, images or HTML code will end up saved.

Part of the issue for both scenarios is that browsers don’t have enough administrative privileges within a computer to totally clean everything up, and it’s apparently not all that difficult to find, at least for someone who is looking for records. While this is certainly frustrating (after all, “private” is supposed to be just that), there are some ideas on how to fix things.

How can you fix it?

One concept being floated around is using blinding servers, which would be like a middleman between your browser and the site you are going to. You’d get to the site, but your ISP would only see the connection to the server, which is where the content is actually hosted. Therefore, there is no record of the actual site you visited.

What this all really comes down to is how important it is that only you know what sites you are visiting. Private browsing modes exist for a reason and generally do a solid job of hiding things, even if they do not delete the history entirely. For most people, that’s probably good enough.

Have a question about private browsing? Kim has your answer! Click here to send Kim a question, she may use it and answer it on her radio show. The Kim Komando Show is broadcast on over 450 stations. Click here to find the show time in your area.

The FTC wants you to read the fine print before using VPN apps

Why? The FTC said that neglecting to read a VPN’s fine print may open you up to the same exploits from which you are looking to protect yourself. Click here to see why.

Refer friends, earn rewards

Share your source of digital lifestyle news, tips and advice with friends and family, and you'll be on your way to earning awesome rewards!

Get started