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- 65% of consumers mistakenly believe that Incognito and Private browsing modes will hide their identity and browsing habits from governments, organizations, and advertisers. — Avast, 2018
- 77% of consumers falsely believe that their browser will alert them to potential web-based security threats, including those from third-party extensions. — Avast, 2018
Concerns about online privacy have mounted, but many consumers remain in the dark in terms of how to actually remain anonymous on the internet, according to a new survey from Avast.
The first hard lesson? Private browsing modes are not nearly as private as you think. Of the 10,000 consumers surveyed worldwide, 65% mistakenly believe that Incognito and Private browsing modes will hide their identity and their search history from governments, organizations, and advertisers. In reality, while the browsers may not save your internet activity, it might still be visible to websites you visit and their ads, employers, schools, and internet service providers.
Consumers also hold false beliefs about the security protections offered by popular browsers, the survey found: 77% of consumers have "misplaced expectations" that their browser will alert them to potential web-based threats, including those from installed third-party extensions.
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These extensions, used on a large scale, are a major threat to privacy and security, the survey noted. More than 64% of respondents said that they use extensions, but only 21% said they consider those extensions to be trustworthy.
The survey was commissioned in advance of the release of the Avast Secure Browser, which the company said provides advanced protection from browser-based attacks and delivers privacy from online mass surveillance. The browser can also help protect against applications that use PCs for cryptomining, a growing security concern, according to a press release. (Opera is another browser that blocks cryptomining, according to TechRepublic's Conner Forrest.)
"Consumers using tools like Private Browsing and Incognito Mode are being lulled into a false sense of security as these only offer limited privacy options and no real protection at all against security or privacy threats," Matt Adkisson, director of platform products at Avast, said in the release.
Other options to safeguard your browsing sessions and data are Tor Browser or Epic Browser, according to TechRepublic's Jack Wallen.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.