Exploring private browsing
We use a range of tools which have options to protect our privacy online every day. Can we use these tools better knowing exactly what they protect?
Modern web browsers provide an optional privacy mode for browsing. Although privacy is increased, some features which make browsing easier, such as caching, are removed. ‘Privacy mode’ has different names in different browsers, but operates in a similar way.
How does private browsing work in your web-browser?
Let’s examine the official information provided by the major browsers on their privacy mode of browsing and how they work.
Choose the documentation for the browser you use the most.
- Chrome: read Google’s introduction to ‘incognito mode’
- Firefox: read Mozilla’s introduction to ‘private browsing’
- Opera: read Opera’s introduction to ‘private window’
- Safari: read Apple’s introduction to ‘private browsing window’
Finding out about browsing terms
If some of the terms used are unfamiliar to you you may want to find out a little more about them.
- Browsing history: What is it? What information exactly does each record in the history include? Where is it stored? Does a website I visit have access to my browsing history?
- (HTTP) Cookies: What are cookies? What are they used for and how? Where are they stored? Which websites have access to which cookies?
- Web cache: What is it and what is it used for? Where is it stored? Who has access to it?
Some possible places to start with are:
- Wikipedia articles on browsing history
- Information Commissioner’s Office article on cookies
- Wikipedia article on cookies
- Wikihow article on web cache
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using private browsing mode?
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