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Testing How "Private" IE InPrivate Browsing Really Is


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#1
CompRev

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RE: Thoroughness of Internet Explorer 8's "InPrivate Browsing"

Note: Below is an edited version of a reply I posted today to a thread on Deleting Internet History

I was curious about how "private" IE InPrivate Browsing really is, in relation to how savvy/resourceful a person or some software might be in following someone else's tracks.

So, I've been using InPrivate Browsing on various computers (with Windows XP) and using Notepad to open the index.dat file in C:/Documents and Settings/%Username%/Local Settings/Temporary Internet Files/Content.IE5 and comparing the contents before, during and after InPrivate sessions. During some of these "trials," I also had regular browsing windows open and toggled back and forth. The sequence of toggling was easily identifiable by large portions of text switching from "normal" to highly garbled and back again.

Yes, it's true that none of what I did showed up in the normally-accessible History, in the subfolders and index.dat files of History.IE5, or in the folder and subfolders of Temporary Internet Files. But it's become clear to me that many traces of websites, downloaded items and objects are pretty much "hiding in plain sight" in index.dat. Amdist the garble are clearly identifiable URLs and names of sites, properties of graphics and images (such as titles associated with pictures). In one trial--at least one in which I noticed--some of the identifiable data even showed that the user had gone into InPrivate Browsing in the first place and clearly showed the first URL visited before the garble started. In another trial, it appeared as if less and less identifiable data was hidden, the more new tabs and/or windows the user opened during a given InPrivate Browsing session.

So anyone knowledgeable enough to think about checking Content.IE5/index.dat--or at least anyone using a program that would look there--is likely to get a reasonably good idea of what was happening even during InPrivate Browsing sessions. That's something for parents to consider, I suppose.


Any comments, thoughts, reactions?
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#2
Neil Jones

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There is no concept as total private browsing.
Even if the browser doesn't track where you go, the internet providers do, in some jurisdictions and it can be used against you in a court of law if it were to get that far in certain circumstances, for example detecting and preventing terrorism, or the distribution and/or creation of child pornography and other such things that sadly go on in the online world.
Some workplaces apply IT policy by logging everything regardless of the browser.

Also, private browsing is no more secure than regular browsing.
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#3
luckyyvt

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Can anyone explain why, if not enabled private browsing stops css pages from loading?
Is this a private browsing issue or another issue that enabling private browsing happens to fix?

It appears that a few people are having trouble loading css pages (myself included). I'm not sure if this issue is caused by IE8 - this seems to be when the troubles started for me but I can't be sure.

Many thanks :)
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#4
Neil Jones

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CSS is irrelevant of browser privacy settings. It is a feature handled by the browser and not by the website. Therefore if you have an issue with CSS pages, you have an issue with the browser, not the fact it's in private browsing mode.
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#5
luckyyvt

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Thanks Neil,

I have read other posts where people have changed the private browsing settings and not been able to access the .css pages - so what you say makes sense.

Do you have any what the issue with the browser would be if you can't access .css pages and how you would find/fix the problem?

I would appreciate any help re: my post:
http://www.geekstogo...ly-t277324.html

thanks in advance to anyone who can offer some advice :)
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