by Jeff Smith, Downingtown Middle School Instructional Coach and Downingtown West High School Business Education Teacher
If you’ve ever used a public computer before, it’s possible you’ve encountered either side of this embarrassing and potentially dangerous scenario:
You enter the GUEST profile of a shared computer. Then you open your favorite web browser and start navigating to your email account. Before you get a chance to enter your username and password, the email service logs in automatically, and you’re somehow staring at hundreds of sensitive emails that belong to email@example.com, a complete stranger. You quickly realize that this stranger forgot to logout of her private email account! Because you’re not a cyber criminal, you mercifully log jen****** out of this privacy nightmare and go on your merry way, emailing, surfing the web, and laughing at cat videos… Thankfully, you’re not like poor, helpless jen******
Make sure you go INCOGNITO!!
Incognito or private browsing mode is featured on all of the popular web browsers under various names:
Safari (Private Browsing)
FireFox (Private Window)
Explorer/Edge (InPrivate browsing)
As you might suspect, these features help to keep your web browsing data “private” from the machine you are using. In short, they prevent the browser from collecting the data that it usually collects when you access websites: cookies, search history, and login credentials. This is especially useful because sometimes websites may offer to save your password by default and you can easily forget to deny that permission, especially if you’re in a hurry. While private or incognito browsing features aren’t the only surefire method for keeping your identity and sensitive information safe online, they can certainly help you to avoid leaving personal breadcrumbs behind while using a public device.
If you’d like to learn more about private browsing, including some extra helpful tips for how to use it, check out this article from ShakeUpLearning.com or ask an instructional coach.