Chrome tracks your surfing

Common misconceptions: does surfing in incognito mode really protect you?

Incognito mode gives many internet users a sense of security and privacy while surfing. But what does it hide and what does not? We clarify.

Anyone who surfs the Internet with a normal browser does not remain anonymous. Companies like Google and Facebook as well as countless advertising networks track every click in order to research the interests and living conditions of the user. Providers analyze the data packets that are sent back and forth between the connections. The state also monitors its citizens' internet activities to combat crime.

Many browsers promise a simple solution for users who want to protect their privacy from prying eyes: the incognito mode supposedly disguises their identity, locks out data collectors and makes surfing safer. But is that true? We explain what the "porn mode" protects against and what it does not.

Note: also offers a browser with many extras for more security and convenience when surfing. Click here to download the browser.

Users overestimate the effect

According to a study by the University of Chicago and Leibniz University in Hanover, many users estimate the effectiveness of the incognito mode completely wrong. 40 percent of those surveyed believe that their location remains secret in private mode. 37 percent think that this means that their web activities are hidden from the employer. And 22.6 percent even assume that the attitudes protect them from the government.

In fact, opening a private browser window is far less effective. In Google Chrome, for example, the incognito mode only means that the browser history and information entered in websites are not saved. This prevents, for example, subsequent users from being able to see straight away which websites you have visited. Forms are also no longer automatically filled out and supplemented.

Personalized advertising still works

However, cookies and website data are still stored - at least until the end of the session. Advertising networks and website operators can monitor and analyze the surfing behavior of the user after all. The data is only deleted when the user closes the window. The next time you visit, the same user appears again as a "blank slate".

It looks similar in the Firefox browser. There the user learns when opening a new private window:

Firefox empties the search terms entered and websites visited when the application is closed or when all private tabs and windows have been closed. This does not make you anonymous to website operators and Internet service providers, but it does make it easier for other computer users to see your activities . "

This shows how limited the effect of "private mode" really is. Even with the employer, the Internet provider and the network administrator, users cannot hide with the incognito mode - and certainly not from the state.

Mozilla explains very well on its website what also needs to be considered when using the incognito mode.


In incognito mode, neither the identity nor the online activities of the user are concealed. If you really want to surf anonymously, you have to use a Tor browser. So-called "Virtual Private Networks" (VPN) can also protect the privacy of the user by concealing his origin and encrypting the data traffic. You can read more about this here.

However, caution is required when choosing a provider: Many free VPN providers analyze the data traffic for their own purposes or pass their findings on to third parties.

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