Private browsing is a new trend among avid internet users as it provides a more secure way of surfing on the internet. The general belief is that private browsing hides the activity and other personal information of the users. But can private browsing be traced on iPhone?
There is still no clarity about the degree of protection that internet surfers enjoy while they are under the umbrella of private browsing. The important question is whether or not private browsing offers total security.
What is Private Browsing?
Private browsing has now become a standard feature for the leading web browsers, including Chrome and Safari’s macOS and iOS versions.
You might have heard about Chrome’s infamous “incognito mode”, which claims to provide a secure browsing experience to the users. The “incognito mode” of Chrome is nothing but their version of private browsing.
Safari, on the other hand, simply calls it Private Browsing, a name befitting its private nature. When you’re using the Private Browsing feature, your history won’t be saved or retained on your iOS device.
Private browsing will delete all traces of your browsing history, whether it is the websites or the link you have visited, your search results, your saved passwords, keystrokes, cookies, and so on.
In this regard, private browsing is the safer alternative to the traditional, normal method of browsing.
When you are using the Private Browsing mode, your browser deletes the following when you exit your browsing window:
- Browsing history
- Data from all the websites
- Auto-fill, passwords, and filled forms
- Search records
- Download history and information.
It is important to note that if you bookmark or download anything, it will be retained.
But with all this information, we still cannot gather the degree of security that private browsing offers. In the next few sections, we’ll answer the main question – can private browsing be traced on iPhone, or is our browsing footprint deleted completely?
How to Turn On Private Browsing on iPhone?
It is important to note that the Private Browsing feature on your Safari browser won’t be turned on by default. You’ll have to do it manually to enjoy a safe browsing experience.
Here’s what you need to do –
- Open the Safari application on your iPhone device.
- Tap the new page button.
- Tap on the option “Private”.
- Now tap on “Done”.
And voila, you can now browse safely via the Private Browsing mode. If your Private Browsing feature is on, your Safari browser will appear a blacker or darker shade instead of white or grey.
Can Anyone See my Private Browsing History on iPhone?
Unfortunately, your private browsing history can still be seen through an obscure setting on your iPhone device. However, it is good news that nobody apart from you would be able to access this information provided that you don’t hand out your phone to any third party.
Here’s how to view Private Browsing history on iPhone –
- Go to iPhone’s Settings menu.
- Scroll down until you find the Safari option and then tap on it.
- Now, scroll to the bottom of the screen till you find the Advanced option.
- On the next page, you will be able to view all kinds of website information.
- You can wipe to left on the Web Data option to find the browser’s deleted history. From here, you can tap on Remove All Website Data.
Now that you have deleted all kinds of stored browsing information, you can go on and use Private Browsing to stop storing browsing history on your iPhone.
How Secure is Private Browsing on iPhone? What are its Limitations?
In the previous few sections, we’ve learned everything that Private Browsing can do. Now, we must acquaint ourselves with everything that Private Browsing cannot do.
Unfortunately, Private Browsing in iPhone won’t make your data and browsing information completely secure. While you will leave no trace of your browsing information on your device, third-party trackers can still trace all the information.
For instance, your internet service provider (ISP), cellular provider, network admins, the giant websites that you visit, and government agencies will still be able to track your online activity like normally, even if you are using the Private Browsing mode.
It doesn’t matter what feature you are using, the above mentioned parties can view –
- The websites you visit.
- Your location.
- Your regional language and other information.
- The specifications of your device.
Furthermore, Private Browsing won’t be able to offer you any protection against malware or viruses either. Harmful or phishing websites, malicious files, and fraud software can still cause damage to your device. Moreover, your IP address will still be visible to intruders, making you prone to being geo-tracked.
Can my Private Browsing be Traced on iPhone?
As we have mentioned above, private browsing doesn’t offer total security. Your browsing history is as vulnerable to being tracked by third-party organizations as it was before.
The only security that Private Browsing offers is that the details and information of your browsing won’t be retained on your phone. So if you share your iPhone with your friends or family, they won’t be able to get a whiff of your online activity. However, third-party organizations can still see what you were doing.
Let’s clarify this with an example.
Suppose you are browsing on YouTube through the Private Browsing mode on the Safari web browser. Since the Private Browsing feature is turned on, your device won’t have any recollection or record of your YouTube activity. However, YouTube (the organization) itself will be able to record your activity on their platform. And it doesn’t end there! Your internet service providers, your router, and even some government agencies can see what you’re doing.
All this boils down to one crucial point – your IP address remains unchanged and visible to others. As such, your information and history will always remain trackable and identifiable.
As long as you’re on the internet, you will face some amount of tracking and tracing. It is impossible to be completely safe on the internet. That being said, even Private Browsing on your iPhone device won’t offer you total protection. While it is a good alternative for keeping your online activity hidden from your friends and family, it won’t do you any good if you aim to prevent your data from being stolen by larger players in the game (ISPs, organizations, websites, government agencies, etc.).