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Can You Get Hacked in Browser’s Incognito Mode?

With the increasing number of internet users, browsers are becoming one of the most common apps that everyone uses on a daily basis. However, among these users some use Browser’s Incognito Mode (also known as Private window / Private Mode) to maintain their privacy and stay safe on the internet.

Oftentimes we see these users also believe using incognito mode also saves them from hackers. But is that true? Let’s find out if it really is.

Getting hacked in Incognito Mode is absolutely possible. Incognito Mode is designed mainly to keep users’ activity hidden from anyone else who uses the same computer or phone.

However, to keep users’ activity secret, Incognito Mode deletes all the cookies when the browsing season ends. This feature may give a slight edge from not getting hacked as sometimes hackers try to hijack cookies to steal users’ personal information. Many modern day browsers even started to block third party cookies in Incognito Mode but even top browsers like Google Chrome or Firefox themselves admit that this feature may not work for all the websites.

Browser companies promised that to keep users’ privacy, browsers’ Incognito Mode do not store any sensitive data like browsing history, form data or credentials, and sometimes this becomes the primary reason why users’ think that they might not get hacked while inside their Incognito Session.

Well this is true, Incognito Mode does not store any data that they have promised. But they only promise not to store data locally. Which means Incognito Mode still sends all the traffic through the servers at your ISP and shares your data with the websites you visit. So it is absolutely possible for hackers to intercept the data in between.

Can Browser’s Incognito Mode Hide Your IP Address from Hackers?

It is not possible to hide IP addresses by Browsers’ Incognito Mode and can be hacked.

An IP address is very essential for all your online activities. When you try to access a website from your computer or mobile it will send a request to that website’s nearest server then the servers ping back you the information you requested for through the websites. That is why your device’s IP address is primarily dependent upon your location. And Incognito Mode does nothing to modify users’ location. So a hacker can hack your IP address if they are interested.

However if you use VPN in a browser’s incognito mode then you might be able to hide your IP address. It’s not because of the Incognito Mode or private browsing mode. It’s the VPN you are using doing the job for you. Even that VPN can do the same job without Incognito Mode.

One important thing to keep in mind is that there is no way to remove your IP address entirely. IP addresses are essential for websites to send and receive data. VPN only able to mask your IP address with one of their own. Like say if you are surfing the internet from the USA, you can show others an IP address of say Australia by using a VPN.

Oftentimes we find that to execute some dirty work hackers try to infect your system with virus and malware. And some users’ still believe that using Incognito Mode may protect you against it. But is that true?

Can You Get Viruses From Incognito Mode?

Yes it is possible to get affected by viruses in the Incognito or Private Browsing Mode. If malware is able to enter your computer or phone through “Regular Mode” using Incognito Mode won’t make any difference. Incognito Mode does not provide any additional layer of security from viruses.

What Incognito Mode can do is maybe be able to remove some malicious cookies, but again it can only delete those cookies when your browsing season is over. That means those malicious cookies can get enough time to infect your computer.

So far we have already known that Incognito Mode does not protect us from hacking in the online world and is unable to hide our IP addresses or unable to give us protection against viruses.

Maybe some of you think that private browsing or Incognito Mode do not save web history, so if you surf any site from your friends or neighbor’s computer they will have no clue which websites you are visiting. In this way Incognito Mode at least gives us some edge from not being hacked of your web history. Maybe this is not a traditional way of hacking that we can think of. But if any friend or neighbors are able to know about your private searches that you do not intend to disclose it can also be termed as hacking.

But what if we say, only closing your Incognito Window does not remove all traces of your history. Then there will be a big question mark for all the promises that browser companies have made.

Is Incognito Mode Actually “Incognito”?

Browser companies are very transparent about their Incognito Mode’s policy. As they promised this is true that Incognito Mode does not store data locally. But that does not mean there is no other way to check the websites you visited on incognito mode.

Whatever we browse on the internet, there will always be a trace of that website on the DNS Cache irrespective of your browsing mode. Network equipment such as routers can communicate with the websites by IP address. And DNS is the system that allows network equipment to understand about the websites by translating all the websites names to their IP address. So it is essential for the DNS system to cache and save websites data temporarily. This is how the websites work and browsers have nothing to do with it.

So if you want to actually remove all your browsing traces from the system you need to clear the DNS cache irrespective of the browsing mode you are in.

How to View & Delete DNS Cache in Windows?

  • Launch Windows Command Prompt by pressing Windows Key then type cmd. Select Run as Administrator.
  • To check the DNS cache run command ipconfig/displaydns and press Enter. All website addresses will be shown that have been cached in the DNS.
  • To delete the DNS cache run command ipconfig/flushdns and press Enter. This will allow windows to remove all the cached DNS.
  • Restart your system.

However this process is only applicable for Windows users. Clearing DNS cache on Mac devices is not as simple as Windows. If you want to know how to clear the DNS cache of a Mac you can check here.

The Conclusion

If your main intention of using Incognito or for Browsing is for not getting hacked then you are in a total misconception. A VPN will help you much better. But if you want after your browsing session ends all your cookies get deleted, local history gets deleted then yes Incognito Mode is a good way to go. However after finishing your web activities on Incognito Mode, it is recommended to run Flush DNS once to remove website traces from DNS Cache as well.

Picture of Arghyadeep Nath

Arghyadeep Nath

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