A new survey by the leading virtual private network provider NordVPN revealed that Brits mostly use Incognito mode (private browsing) for checking health issues (36%), and shopping for gifts (30%).

Besides that, they seek privacy while booking a trip (23%) or visiting dating sites (18%). But is it as private as they think?

What does incognito mode do?

Incognito/private mode helps you browse the web without storing browsing data on your browser so that it can’t be retrieved later. This means that your searches, visited pages, login details, and cookies will not be saved on the device after you close your private windows. However, any files you download or bookmarks you create will be kept.

“Private browsing can also be used for booking flight tickets or hotel rooms because they might get you lower prices. Because they don’t save cookies, the airline or hotel website might not know that you checked your chosen dates before and hike up their prices accordingly,” explains Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN.

Incognito mode: you are not as private as you think

Incognito means to hide your true identity, but that’s not completely true for private browsing modes. Even though private browsing deletes cookies when you close the window and keeps your browsing history empty, it does not hide your traffic from third parties like your ISP, the government, or your network admin at your office or university.

“That private browser mode, or incognito mode, you use to browse the net privately doesn’t make you as private as you think. Your private browsing mode only blocks your own browser from recording your traffic, but it doesn’t hide your IP. Someone can still track you,” Daniel Markuson adds.

How can the Brits increase their privacy?

Daniel Markuson recommends several ways to minimize your digital footprint:

Use a VPN such as NordVPN. It does what incognito mode cannot. It hides your IP address and replaces it with the address of a remote VPN server, making it impossible to track you. It also encrypts your traffic, protecting your browsing habits from your ISP and other third parties.

Use privacy-oriented browsers, such as Tor or Epic, which deliver on their promise of “extreme privacy”: no auto-syncing, no spell-check, no auto-fill, and no plug-ins.

Use more private search engines, such as DuckDuckGo. This search engine is a popular choice and serves around 10 million searches a day. However, even though it’s a great tool to limit tracking, it doesn’t guarantee complete anonymity.

Use a proxy. Some internet users might choose to route their traffic through a proxy. Proxy servers can help you access geo-restricted websites and hide your browsing activity from the ISP. However, proxies don’t encrypt your traffic, leaving you vulnerable to other attacks and forms of monitoring.

Methodology: The survey was conducted by the NordVPN Research department for the period from March 29 to April 3, 2021. The survey’s target group was residents of the UK over the age of 18, and the sample was taken from national internet users. Quotas were placed on age, gender, and place of residence.


NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider used by over 14 million internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption, malware blocking, and Onion Over VPN. The product is very user-friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide, and is P2P-friendly. One of the key features of NordVPN is the zero-log policy. For more information: nordvpn.com.


Laura Tyrell

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