When people think of private internet browsing, one of the first things that comes to mind is Chrome’s incognito mode. When users want to avoid being tracked or filling their history up with sketchy websites, opening an Incognito window is often the first order of business.
Despite its name, however, incognito mode actually doesn’t offer as much privacy as you’d think. Sure, when incognito is on, Google stops tracking history and deletes your cookies — but your internet provider can still see everything you’re doing. Not to mention that your IP address and computer data are still visible and vulnerable to hackers.
Well, times are changing and Google is finally helping incognito mode live up to its name. A new update to the iconic browser includes some data protection features that actually keep your personal information private. We’ve got all the details, as well as how to enable these features on your browser today.
What does incognito mode actually do?
When incognito mode made its debut in 2008, users immediately jumped in to reap the benefits of private browsing. Before the latest version of Chrome, though, users only had a limited amount of data protection when surfing the net. Things like history, cookies, autofill suggestions, and tracking from Google were halted when a user shifted into incognito.
Related: How to use Tor Browser to search the web anonymously
On the other hand, incognito mode didn’t protect us from being tracked by third-parties like Facebook. Additionally, a loophole existed in Chrome’s code that let websites know whether or not a user was in incognito mode in the first place – defeating the entire point of private browsing! Websites could use this data to prevent visitors from skirting around paywalls or avoiding cookies that increased their ad revenue.
What does the new Chrome update do for incognito mode?
Beginning with Chrome 74, as the new version is called, incognito mode finally closes the loophole that allows websites to see whether or not you’re privately browsing. This will prevent additional flagging that being identified as incognito would cause, making your browsing experience truly private.
Keep in mind, you’ll still need to be logged out of Facebook and other social media platforms to fully enjoy the benefits of private browsing, so proceed with caution and stick to parts of the web you’re familiar with.
How to enable incognito mode updates in Chrome 74
The new incognito mode features are not enabled by default and require you to turn them on. Doing so is easy, but requires navigating into an “experimental” area of Chrome. Don’t worry, though! All this means is that new features are placed in this menu for early-adopters to test out.
Since other new features are present in this menu that can change how your browser functions, we recommend sticking to our guide and avoid tweaking additional settings if possible.
To access the incognito mode update, open a new window and enter the following text:
This will take you to Chrome’s experimental flags menu that we mentioned above. Once you’re in, type “incognito” into the search bar at the top of the page. From here, you’ll see an option that allows you to “enable the Filesystem API” for incognito mode. Go ahead and turn this option on. Close your new window once you’re finished.
And that’s it! You’re ready to start browsing undercover for real! While you’re covertly surfing the web, don’t forget to be aware of basic security threats like keystroke trackers and malware downloads. Even if you’re privately browsing, there’s no substitute for cautious internet use to protect you from hackers and cybercriminals.