Thursday, February 2, 2012

InPrivate/Incognito Browsing leaves traces in index.dat/Google Browser history online!

Microsoft describes "InPrivate Browsing" mode as;

"When checking e-mail at an Internet café or shopping for a gift on a family PC, you don't want to leave any trace of specific web browsing activity. InPrivate Browsing in Internet Explorer 8 helps prevent your browsing history, temporary Internet files, form data, cookies, and usernames and passwords from being retained by the browser, leaving no evidence of your browsing or search history

This however, isn't strictly true. Sure, you can delete the history, cookies and even Temporary Internet Files, but what Microsoft has NOT told you is that just like regular mode, EVERY website you visit, whether in "InPrivate" browsing mode or not - is recorded in the index.dat files.

Windows 7 index.dat  locations
C:\Users\\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\index.dat
C:\Users\\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Low\Content.IE5index.dat
C:\Users\\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\UserData\index.dat
C:\Users\\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\UserData\Low\index.dat

Google Chrome stores history, bookmarks, saved password, thumbnails,etc at "[Username]\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data". So you can wipe out all browsing traces by deleting this folder.

A new window will open with the incognito icon icon in the corner. You can continue browsing as normal in the other window.
You can also use the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+Shift+N (Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS) and ?-Shift-N (Mac) to open an incognito window.
Browsing in incognito mode only keeps Google Chrome from storing information about the websites you've visited. The websites you visit may still have records of your visit. Any files saved to your computer will still remain on your computer.For example, if you sign into your Google Account on while in incognito mode, your subsequent web searches are recorded in your Google Web History. In this case, to prevent your searches from being stored in your Google Account, you'll need to pause your Google Web History tracking.

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