GREENSBORO, NC -- 2WTK asked Kent Meeker to make the technical explanation of "private browsing" not so technical.
"Originally, private browsing was marketed to be a way to view secure websites like banking institutions, company websites, and to purchase products and services online. With that being said, we know the real motivation behind it: To keep anyone from knowing what websites you are visiting."
And while this comes in handy when you're buying Christmas, birthday or anniversary gifts you don't want others in your house to see, it can be used for not-so-great purposes too, just like any technology.
If you want to use this private browsing or "incognito" option, all internet browsers: Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Apple's Safari have an 'incognito' or 'private' option readily available for you to utilize.
2WTK has screen shots of an iphone to show where to get to the private option. When you open up Safari, you['ll notice to squares in the bottom right hand side of the screen.
Hit those and another screen pops up with the word "private" in the bottom left. When you hit "private" the search bar turns grey and you know you're in private browsing mode.
"By launching a private browsing session it is very difficult for someone who has access to your machine to discover what websites you are visiting."
When you enable private browsing modes, you are telling your browser not to record which websites you're visiting, and telling it not to use or download any cookies.
"However, there are a few security flaws that can leak this information back onto your browser such as logging into your Google account. That effectively ends the private session and you may not even be aware of it. Also, SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol for transmitting private document. Many sites use this technology. While much to technical to discuss here, we all have SSL Certificates on our machines (which is really a good thing....trust me)."
Kent goes on to say the biggest issue is not really with your browser, but with your Internet Service Provider (ISP). EVERY request sent over the Internet is tied to an IP address. In order for you to send and receive any data online, it's necessary for all the ISP to assign your home or business router with an IP address that designates where/who you are on the web. Think of it as your digital home mailbox. Just know that there is no way to avoid using your IP address in an Internet request and your ISP knows where you've been.
"Private browsing, while useful in most circumstances, is more of a facade and illusion than a reality. If your going someplace online you think you shouldn't be going.... don't tempt fate. Just don't go there. If you don't want someone to find out that you are buying something for them private browsing is usually enough."
Is Private Browsing Impossible? Yes and no. "Those of us who live in the tech world (geeks if you must) know how to hid our IP address by using Tor <https://www.torproject.org/>, which allows users to surf the web anonymously by routing your traffic through a series of computers before connecting you with your intended destination, or online services like DuckDuckGo <https://duckduckgo.com/>. However, no system is perfect and there could be a security gap the NSA is exploiting that we don't know about (remember the Heartbleed flaw?)"