Incognito shortcuts aren’t enough: How to protect your privacy online

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As the internet evolves, so does our concept of online privacy. Today, more and more people are worried about maintaining their privacy on the internet in the face of data tracking and breaches. In fact, a 2018 survey from Arm Treasure Data found that 64.2% of consumers are concerned about web giants like Facebook and Google tracking their online behavior.  

What is data tracking and why does it matter?

Data tracking, in its simplest form, is the process of collecting information. Website hosts, companies, and internet service providers (ISPs) can monitor your online movements, recording the sites you visit and ads you click on, as well as the types of personal information you provide.

By following your digital activity, companies can learn about your job, location, health situation, shopping habits, and online preferences. They can then use this information to send you targeted ads and tailor your social media newsfeeds and web content.

Of course, data tracking isn’t inherently harmful — after all, some consumers prefer to receive personalized ads — but it’s difficult to trust that the organizations and websites you give your information to use it responsibly. What’s more, privacy breaches are a growing concern. According to the RSA Data Privacy and Security Survey 2019, 45% of U.S. respondents said their personal information was compromised in a data breach in the last five years.

To combat data tracking and breaches, people are turning to privacy tools like incognito shortcuts and privacy apps.

What is incognito mode?

Incognito mode is a Chrome browser tool that gives you more privacy when you go on the internet. Instead of storing your browser preferences and personal information, incognito mode deletes your search history and cookies as soon as you close the window you’re using. It effectively gives you a blank slate for browsing, which makes it an excellent tool for increasing your privacy on a local level.
It’s a good idea to open an incognito window when you don’t want your information saved on the phone or computer you’re using. For example, you might want to use incognito mode to shop for a gift for your spouse or log into your email on a friend’s computer. When you use incognito mode, no one with access to your device can pull up your search history or see your personal information.

Using incognito mode can also reduce the amount of targeted ads and suggestions you receive. Without access to your cookies, website hosts and companies aren’t able to gather as much information on your online habits and preferences, which means they can’t create personalized ads as easily.   

Despite its benefits, though, incognito mode isn’t a catch-all solution to online privacy concerns. Using an incognito window keeps your personal information hidden on the device you’re using, but it doesn’t stop data tracking. Companies, websites, and ISPs can still see the sites you visit when you browse in incognito mode.

How to use incognito shortcuts

Incognito mode isn’t foolproof, but it is a beneficial tool. If you want to try private browsing, incognito shortcuts can help. Keep in mind that each browser has its own version of incognito mode, usually called “private mode” or “private browsing.” Here’s what you need to know about using incognito shortcuts on every browser:

  • Internet Explorer: To use InPrivate Browsing, go to Settings, click Safety, then click InPrivate Browsing. You can also use the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+P.  
  • Chrome: To use Incognito Mode, go to File, then click New Incognito Window. The incognito shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+N.  
  • Firefox: To open a private window, click on Settings, then click New Private Window. The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+P.  
  • Safari: To use a private window, go to File, then click Private Window. The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+N.

Depending on the computer you have, you may need to tap the Command key instead of the Control key.

You can also use incognito mode on your mobile device. The process is similar for both iOS devices and Androids. After you open your browser, simply look for the tab or settings button to find private browsing options. 

  • Chrome: Open the browser, then click the three dots in the lower right corner. From there, click New Incognito Tab.
  • Safari: Open the browser, then click the tab button in the lower right corner. Next, click Private in the lower left corner to enable private browsing. From there, you can click on the plus sign to open a new tab in private mode.
  • Firefox: Open the browser, then tap the tab button in the lower right corner of the screen. Then, click the mask button at the top of the screen to enable private mode. You can then open new tabs by clicking the plus sign.

Keep in mind that just like other internet tabs, incognito tabs will remain open unless you close them. If you don’t want anyone scrolling through your search history, make sure you close your private tabs and windows.   

The power of using a privacy app

Though incognito shortcuts can be helpful in certain situations, they don’t offer you complete privacy. If you want more protection over your personal information, there are other steps you should take, like downloading a privacy app. Using a privacy app like FigLeaf can give you more control and peace of mind when it comes to your internet privacy.   

Here are a few benefits of using FigLeaf:

1. Masked email addresses

The majority of online spaces, like ecommerce shops, blogs, and subscription services, require you to share your email address to participate. While you might feel comfortable giving your email to certain companies and sites, blasting your email address across the web can make you more vulnerable to tracking and breaches. After all, your email address is connected to your social media accounts, online purchases, subscriptions, and accounts, making it easier for companies to identify and track you.

With FigLeaf, you can opt to use a masked email address that stands in for your real one. It functions the same as your actual email address, but keeps your personal information hidden from unwanted parties. Plus, using a masked email can help cut down on the amount of unwanted messages you get in your inbox.

2. Breach scanner

To protect your personal information, you need to know what type of information is most vulnerable. One of FigLeaf’s built-in tools is a scanner that searches the web for your personally identifiable information (PII), like email addresses, phone numbers, credit card details, and passwords.   Through the app, you can view the various PII available on you, determine how vulnerable it is, and see whether any of it has been compromised. Knowing who has your information — and how much of it exists — can help you make smarter decisions about what you want to share online.   

3. Tracker blocker

Using a tracker blocker tool is one of the best ways to increase your online privacy. A tracker blocker works by hiding your digital activity from websites and advertisers, in turn limiting the amount of information they’re able to collect on you. The result is fewer targeted ads and more protection over your personal information.

With FigLeaf, you can customize when and where you use your tracker blocker. If, for example, you want to see ads for local events, you can disable your blocker. However, if you’re tired of receiving the same messages or ads from companies, you can keep your blocker on.

4. Private logins

If you operate multiple online accounts, there’s a good chance you use the same password for all of them. A 2019 survey from a Google and Harris Poll found that 52% of people reuse the same password for multiple online accounts, and only 24% of people use a password manager.
Using the same password, especially if it’s weak or predictable, can reduce your privacy and put you at risk for hacking and breaches. That’s why one of FigLeaf’s tools is a private login function designed to bump up your privacy while keeping logins easy. Our password manager tool generates unique passwords for every site and account you use, then stores your passwords in an encrypted file, so they stay protected.   

5. Browse public Wi-Fi privately

 Unfortunately, you can’t expect the same level of privacy everywhere on the internet. Each website you visit has its own privacy protections, as does each Wi-Fi network you use. Some Wi-Fi networks, like the public connection at your local cafe or library, come with more risks.    

Sharing your personal information on public Wi-Fi can lower your privacy. With FigLeaf, though, you can browse the web using a private connection. No matter where you are, your private connection guarantees that your personal information will be encrypted, so no one can access or steal it.   

Choose the privacy you want

Unlike incognito mode, which has one specific function, FigLeaf is an all-in-one privacy tool. With our app, you can choose the level of privacy you want on every site you visit. Plus, you can change your settings any time. We know sometimes you might want to be visible, while other times you might crave anonymity. Whatever your internet style, we’re here to help enhance your online experience while giving you the level of protection you want. 

Author: FigLeaf Team