Ask LH: Will Incognito Mode Save Me At Work?

Hey Lifehacker, If I'm working in incognito mode and using an app like Omegle or Chatroulette, can my employer track the chat? Thanks, Keen To Talk

Dear KTT,

Simple answer: yes, they can. Incognito mode (the Chrome label -- Firefox and Safari call it private browsing, Internet Explorer calls it InPrivate browsing) means the browser doesn't track what you're doing, but doesn't stop others from doing so. In incognito mode, sites you visit won't be added to history and you won't automatically be signed into anything. However, to access sites, the domain name will still need to be resolved by a DNS service -- and that will be logged on your corporate network. Chances are no-one is actively looking at those lists, but the potential is there. Some environments will block domains deemed risky or unsuitable, and those blocks will apply no matter what browsing mode you use.

In a workplace, you always have to assume that what you're doing either can be tracked or is being tracked. Full anonymity requires more than just incognito browsing (and often requires software you can't install on a locked-down corporate machine).

The only guaranteed private access in the workplace is on your mobile phone, using a mobile network that you pay for. Arguably you shouldn't be on casual chat sites during work hours, but if you are, that's the only route that will be concealed from your employer.

Cheers Lifehacker

Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.


Comments

    Many workplaces also have remote viewers and keylogging software installed. Don't risk it.

      If they do they should make this clear to their employees, otherwise I suspect they'd be in breach of privacy laws. From what I understand they should have a clear (legal) reason for doing so (eg fraud, etc). They shouldnt just be able to install keylogging software without telling their employees.

    Pfft, I thought this was evil week. Should have said that Incognito mode will fully hide everything you do from your employer. Let the lazy bums not doing any work get caught, instead of relying on others to pick up the slack!

      there is evil like helping him hide his browsing from his employer, which doesnt really hurt anyone, then there is real evil like lying that private browsing will fully hide anything, which would result in you getting fired.

      Perhaps they should write an article about deleting system32 to make your computer faster, and charging your iphone in the microwave.

    I don't even, there's a pretty clear description right there when you able it that should indicate it won't help outside of not saving your history.

    Big companies & most medium sized companies will have web tracking tools at the firewall level that will track IP addresses & username to what web sites you visit. It's in the best interest of almost any company to track all employee's web traffic due to federal laws.

    Seriously - if you use the products we sell - Http Https," incognito mode", twitter, snapchat face book, browsing etc - anything you do on the work internet WiF i- is not protected or hidden . regardless of size. This is specifically what we sell and provide. Business is... booming.... It is more about protecting their IP (intellectual Property) and protecting their Ass in a case you may bring ( eg you use their computer to break an myriad of laws like child porn or HR laws and.. more).

    Insiders tip : The only safe option is to use a 3G/4G connection, - or if you have wifi connection on your work computer/device at work take in a 3g/4g Hot spot or teather to your phone... a none work provided connection is your safest bet, even on their equipment ( computers/ etc .

    They don't need to disclose it to you - regardless if they should or should not - there is no legal requirement as you are using the supplied infrastructure of the business you are working for and if you are using it for any purpose that is not "work related" it is at their discretion ( assuming you want incognito mode for non work borwsing or activity) - my experience is they will tell you usually, but it is there in the employment contract you sign - it is all theirs....

    Last edited 21/10/14 11:57 am

    At work your company is your ISP and just like your ISP at home, everything you send over the wire can be tracked down to your IP address. They know what sites you visit and what time you visit them. Incognito mode only prevents this from being stored locally - your ISP (both home and at work) track everything.

    You all sound like smart people. I have a question that I'd like a simple answer to. If I want to see what my son or daughter looks at in their phone when using incognito mode, is there a spy app or a way I can access that. Every spy program I've looked at does everything except that! It's really important to me. Please help.

      You don't really want to see that..

Join the discussion!