Maybe you want to be a little mysterious or lay low in your Northland piece of paradise but more likely you want to protect your privacy when browsing online. You don’t want cybercriminals seeing what you’re doing, or marketers knowing where you go online and what you search for. So, you anonymise your activity using Incognito mode or private browsing. Really though, if you want to be anonymous online, a virtual private network (VPN) is likely a better option.
Google Chrome’s Incognito mode helps maintain your privacy when you are online. Other browsers, such as Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Internet Explorer, also offer private browsing. When the feature is at work, the browser does not save a record of the websites you visit or what you what you searched for. Plus, it doesn’t save any of your site logins. This means you have to do without the convenience of access credentials auto-populating.
Privacy browsing also disables plugins that may be used to track your internet activity. Still, plugins often serve a purpose while we’re on the internet. So, again, disabling them can disrupt your convenient, efficient browsing experience.
Yet, as cybersecurity concerns rise, recognizing privacy concerns while browsing may not be enough. For one thing, hiding your browser activity is only half the battle. You should also know that:
- your internet service provider (ISP) may be monitoring the sites you visit;
- the site you visited could be tracking your ISP address to find out where you logged in from;
- if you’re not on an encrypted site, a cyber bad guy could potentially read your data.
- That’s why many businesses and home computer users who want to preserve their privacy online look to a VPN. We’ll discuss the distinct advantages next.
Online Privacy Advantages with a VPN
With a VPN, you have your own secure and private connection to the internet.
Consider these advantages of having one for your computer, smartphone, or tablet:
- A VPN encrypts your online activity. That means no third party (company, government, or hacker) can watch your activity as it is transmitted.
- When you connect, your IP address is masked. The VPN provides you with a new IP address, so you can’t be tracked to your home or business connection.
- You may be able to access otherwise restricted content. The VPN IP address could appear to be in a country that is allowed access to specific content. So, the website won’t know to block you.
Of course, the VPN provider could be recording your online activity (as an ISP might also do), but the most reputable providers make it a policy not to keep any activity logs for their users.
What Do You Want from Your Anonymity?
When deciding, it comes down to what you want from your anonymity efforts. If you want your browser to not record what you are doing locally, Incognito or another privacy browser will do OK.
If you want a private and secure connection that allows you to enjoy freedom and peace of mind online, the VPN is for you.