What is a private web browser?
A private web browser is a web browser that has features built in that make you difficult to track on the Internet. By default, many of them do not store (or at least keep) information on your computer that could be used to track your Internet activity. These include cookies, cached web pages, or histories of search terms you’ve entered or websites you’ve visited.
Private web browsers go further than that, however. They often have functions that redirect where your Internet connection is coming from (see our IP Spoofing article), which makes it difficult for observers to track or locate you based on your Internet address. Some even have the ability to fool observers into thinking that you’re using a different web browser, which further confuses them and throws them off your Internet trail.
Private web browsers vs. private browsing mode
There is quite a big difference between using a private web browser, and simply using “private mode” in a more common web browser. Let us explain.
What “private mode” does
When you enter private mode in a major web browser (such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Internet Explorer), you are basically telling the web browser that you don’t want it to keep a record of where you’re going on the Internet. This means that any cached files, cookies, web page histories, or form entry histories will be wiped out when you finish browsing.
Unfortunately, private mode in common web browsers deletes information that could be used to track your Internet activities on your computer only. This means that it only keeps your Internet activity private from other people who have access to the same computer as you. This is only half the battle, and not the more important half, either.
What “private mode” doesn’t do
Private mode doesn’t protect you against being directly tracked while you’re actively browsing the Internet. Websites, corporations, governments, and even some troublemakers can see where you’re going on the Internet by tracking your various activities and signatures.
These actions and other “digital footprints” include what websites you visit or log into, what hyperlinks you click on, and what terms you input into search engines. They can even track your computer’s Internet address and use it to figure out the general area in which you live!
How private web browsers fix this problem
Private web browsers work to prevent you from being tracked on the Internet side of things, and not just on your computer. In addition to clearing your client-side breadcrumbs like “private mode” does, private web browsers also use fake Internet servers and other tricks to mask where your Internet connection is coming from while you’re on the Internet.
For example, one day your connection might be from France, and the next day your connection might be from Germany. Or, one day websites may think you’re using Chrome, and the next they may think that you’re using Firefox. Even if you’re tracked while using a private web browser, it doesn’t matter, because the private web browser constantly shifts the parameters that trackers would use to trace your Internet activity back to you as an individual person. They might as well be trying to track a chameleon.
Best 4 private web browsers
If you prefer using Google Chrome, try these:
Epic Privacy Browser — www.epicbrowser.com
Comodo Dragon — www.comodo.com/home/browsers-toolbars/browser.php
If you prefer using Mozilla Firefox, try these:
T.O.R. (The Onion Router) — www.torproject.org
Comodo IceDragon — www.comodo.com/home/browsers-toolbars/icedragon-browser.php
Anyway, that’s a brief explanation of what private web browsers are (with some examples), and what they do that “private mode” in more common web browsers doesn’t do!