Remember that lyric from “Mo Money, Mo Problems” (1997) by the Notorious B.I.G.? “Federal agents mad ’cause I’m flagrant. Tap my cell and the phone in the basement…” Biggie warned us. Try something for me. Are you alone right now – away from prying eyes? Good. Now take a deep breath. You feel that? That’s called privacy. Enjoy it while you can. Privacy is so scarce in this digital age that we must take special measures to safeguard it, not least of all while on our Internet browsers. The latest browsers, like UC Browser Mini, typically have built-in private browsing capabilities, but is that enough to protect your info? Here is what you need to know about keeping your browsing sessions private.
Google Chrome has Incognito. Internet Explorer has InPrivate mode. UC Browser Mini is the latest trending browser. Its small file size is intended for users with limited phone storage space and processing power. It also has a private browsing mode. These types of built-in privacy safeguards are good for several reasons.
Uses for Private Browsing
Logging off accounts on public computers
Ever been to the computer section at Best Buy and toyed with one of the devices, only to find that some schmuck left his Facebook or email account up? Private browsing ensures that you never become that guy.
Blocking sites from collecting your data
Not only does it automatically log you off accounts on public computers, but it also blocks sites from collecting your data. Goodbye, creepy targeted advertising! So annoying. I recently let my sister use my iPad. Big mistake. Now, I’m stalked by ads for cosmetics. I’m a 32-year-old man with back pain and student loan debt. I really don’t care about Sephora’s spring makeup sale. I should have made my sister use private browsing.
Shopping for the lowest possible prices
Private browsing can even save you some moola. Retail sites can jack up their prices based on you browsing history. Travel sites do this all the time. If you’ve been eyeing a flight, the booking site might raise their price to budge you into acting fast. Online stores can charge you higher prices if you are located in the wealthy part of town. Private browsing prevents these sites from detecting your location and when you last visited. That way you get the lowest prices.
Bypassing usage limits
Another handy use for private browsing is that it overrides irritating usage limits on various sites. Let’s say you are on the New York Times website or some other news site that limits how many articles you can read per month. Isn’t it awful when you hit that limit? Private browsing blocks your history and makes the website think you are a fresh user. Read on!
Shortfalls of private browsing
There are plenty of reasons to use private browsing, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of Internet privacy. Not by a long shot! It doesn’t protect you from spyware. External networks can still monitor your online activity (yes, your office network administrator can still see if you are working or just fooling around on Facebook). It also doesn’t protect you from hackers. Your data can still be stolen on public networks.
Further steps to ensure privacy
There are steps you can take to ensure a safe and private online experience. Maybe you don’t want your data stored on a public computer. Perhaps you’re embarrassed to let others see the websites you visit (mmmhmm). Whatever your reasons for wanting privacy, you should always use common sense when using the Internet. Don’t put your personal information into sketchy websites. Duh. Keep your system updated. All those update reminders that you ignore – stop ignoring them! Those updates sometimes contain crucial privacy fixes.
Also, make sure that your firewall is turned on in your security settings. If you are shopping online, make sure the site you are ordering from uses data encryption. Good rule of thumb: look for URLs that start with “https” instead of just “http”. These websites are safer. They encrypt your information when it is sent out.
Another good thing to investigate are Virtual Private Networks (VPN). VPN providers like Private Internet Access or TorGuard charge about $10 per month to ensure your online data is encrypted and safe from prying eyes. You really should be using a VPN. Like, for real.
Biggie had a point. Get online. But, don’t be flagrant. Your connection is tapped. You can bet on it. It might not be the Feds, but that doesn’t make it any less insidious. Be smart and proactive in protecting your data. Utilize the privacy feature in your browser. Update your device. Use a VPN. Be alert. Find what works for you. Enjoy your privacy. While you still can.
Also, if you’re not happy with your current service, check out our latest Internet bundles.