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Leaving No TraceSometimes, you may have to use someone else’s computer for browsing the internet. How do you ensure that you will be leaving no trace when you get away from this computer?

Clear all your browsing history

If you are a Firefox user, most of the time, you would enter your credentials for checking your e-mails, hanging out on Facebook, watching the news, and the list goes on. Then you keep on reminding yourself to clear all browsing history when you’re done with the practical CTRL+SHIFT+DEL keystrokes.

On recent Firefox versions, you can decide to only clear the last hour browser activity or everything … I personally found out that choosing to clear the latest hour history isn’t “safe enough” as I clearly lose track of time once I am on the internet, I don’t know about you.

The same feature is available on Google Chrome by hitting “Ctrl +H”, then clicking on “Edit items”. The “good” thing about Google Chrome’s history feature is that you can pinpoint and choose whatever history you want to delete. Ain’t that a great feature if you only want to leave the impression that you didn’t do anything nasty on the computer by leaving the browsing history “untouched?”

What’s next?

Clearing the history can be a good idea only if you remember to do it when you’re done. However, chances are that you’re borrowing someone else’s computer because you just had a few spare time to use. And, as if Murphy’s law never fails, you usually have to hurry up leaving that computer for different reasons:

  • an urgent phone call that kept you away for a long time;
  • the pal you’ve been waiting for just showed up and asked you to hurry up because you’re late for another meeting …

Then what? There’s a high risk you would forget clearing your browsing history. Even worse, you would even ask the computer owner to close your sessions. Meaning, you’ll be leaving the responsibility for protecting your own stuff to a third party … Hmm, that’s bad… Chances are they’ll take a sneak-peak into what you did first – you know- trying to find out the nasty things you may have done …

Use Private/Incognito Browsing

So, how do you protect from those “unpredictable hurry” that don’t even let you clear your browsing history when working on someone else’s computer (or on a public computer?).  If we stick with the two browsers mentioned above, here’s how you’d do it:

On Mozilla Firefox: at your initial launch, quickly hit “CTRL+SHIFT+P” (or go to “Tools- Start Private browsing”)

On Google Chrome, still at your initial launch of the browser, hit  “SHIFT+CTRL+N” (or got to the Settings menu, and click “new incognito window”)

Whether on Firefox, or on Chrome, a new window will then open – do your own things from this window as it won’t record your browsing history, nor your password, nor your site preferences. You’re safe, at least on the browser side of things. Because you never know if there’s a keystroke recorder on the computer, or if there’s a network sniffer somewhere on your network …but that’s another story.

Now, when the urgent call rings, or when the pal you’ve been waiting for just steps by and push you to leave, all you have to do is close the browser window and that’s it … No sessions to close, no browsing history to clear …You can leave the floor with peace of mind… However, you should keep in mind that private browsing mode does not hide your public IP address.

Back to you

Hope this helped you… Now we’d love to hear about the experience of using other people’s computer while maintaining privacy. Share in the comment section.