Incognito Mode Won’t Protect Your Enterprise Security

Enterprise Security

Many enterprises have set a precedent that online browsing within IT departments or other company-based computers should be performed under incognito windows, such as those offered by Google Chrome browsers and other providers.

While online search and work activity may feel secure with your identity and preferences set to a private mode, according to research figures, most business owners’ knowledge of private browsing modes lacks understanding about what is kept private and what is not in their enterprise security.

The prominent misunderstanding around incognito mode is that search histories are not recorded, including when logged into their Google accounts. Many also believe that incognito mode adds protection against any malware or viruses when they are online.

Are you truly aware of what incognito mode does and doesn’t do? Is this an area you would like to learn more about at our next enterprise cybersecurity conference?

The Truth Around Incognito

Incognito mode does have its benefits. When activated, it does hide your browsing from other people who may use the same device or PC. Neither search nor browsing history is stored on local devices for anyone else to see.

However, most people are under the false impression that incognito mode is a wall that protects personal information and data from scammers and cybercriminals. Many also lead to the belief that incognito mode prevents advertisers from tracking their enquiries or browsing when online. Chrome’s incognito mode (the most prevalent) does block third-party cookies by design, but it DOES collect site data from your sessions. What you may not realise is that they get stored in a temporary folder and are only deleted once the session window has been closed.

It is also revealed that Google stores regular and private browsing data together in one log, which it then uses for personalised ads even if the user uses incognito mode. Google simply identifies that user when data points are collected with a high degree of success.

Visibility to Parties

According to Google’s official disclaimer, activity is visible to three main parties. The website visited, an employer or school, and finally, your internet service provider.

The analytic tools are woven into the website design and will capture some degree of on-site activity data with a certain amount of anonymity. Incognito mode will not keep who you are secret from the website, and the site will keep track of any activity. It will not stop the website from serving certain ads based on your incognito sessions until those windows are closed.

Enterprise IT departments will be able to see activity conducted under incognito mode, nor will it hide it from any network administrator. For employees who work remotely and conduct their incognito mode in a venue with shared WiFi, online activity is considerably open whether you use it or not.

Regardless of using the incognito feature, your IP address and online activity are traceable with your internet service provider. One party you may not realise is clued into your incognito activity is Google, which tracks and collects user data regardless through any sites running Analytics, Ads Manager, and other services seemingly without consent.

Business owners must ensure that all employees are made aware that incognito mode is not a service that provides full enterprise security and opt for applications like VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) that encrypt internet traffic through a remote server.

Bring Your Employees To An Enterprise Security and Risk Management Event

On November 28, 2024, in London, Whitehall Media presents the 19th annual enterprise security and risk management conference. Our guest speakers will deliver engaging talks on all aspects of improved security and risk mitigation in enterprise security solutions. For information on guest speakers and highlights of talks, check out the Whitehall Media events section for more details.