incognito function hides you from trackers just like running postcards out to the mailbox in a Groucho Marx mask. All activity is visible and readable – it just is not clear who person dropped the letters in the device mailbox — but the postcard messages are still openly readable by everyone. Incognito only hides you from the other person using the device – nothing more. So if you think of the Groucho glasses and mustache as a silly, useless costume – you understand the value of the incognito function.
The improvement to HTTP came with HTTPS. The additional S standing for secure, signifying that the connection and the data packet payloads are encrypted using the Transport Layer Security. It is usually shown as a little lock icon in the corner.
HTTPS used to be used primarily for eshop and banking due to the cost of having a certification for each transaction. The lack of a HTTPS mark has been a reliable symbol that the website was poorly assembled and was a warning flag of a phishing site. But as certification costs have dropped to near zero, HTTPS use has grown to make up about over two thirds of all web traffic. Even some phishing sites are now using HTTPS.
But, HTTPS is not perfect. Think of it as an envelope for your letters, keeping prying eyes from reading the contents. However, it is limited as it does not conceal who you are writing to and your own location. Even worse, it’s an envelope that can be messed with at the major connection points – as the TLS “handshake.”
It is probably best to think of HTTPS as providing partial or incomplete encryption. Although the content of your activities may be safely encrypted in those data packets, there is a lot of additional information about you exposed on the metadata.
Three areas that HTTPS leaves uncovered are location, destination, and device details.
Thanks to these three issues, the internet postman/trackers know that you use your smartphone during the day and laptop in the evening, are usually home from 7:30 in the evening, most of your searches for vacation information are done on the laptop, and something about your searches, and currently you are on vacation outside of the USA and should be blocked from watching your favorite series.
Aren’t you glad they don’t know even more about you? Thwarting this surveillance economy and keeping our own individual autonomy is what this quest for privacy is all about.