October 25, 2021
Google Chrome Incognito Mode detection

Google will Soon Put a Stop to Sites that Track Users Trying to Hide behind Incognito Mode

A Google Chrome Incognito Mode detection block will come to the browser in the not too distant future, according to recent commit comments…

The Google Chrome browser does a number of things in the background most casual (even power) users don’t notice.

One example is sandboxing every open tab. Going into Incognito Mode takes that a step further. When users end their sessions, all cookies, along with locally-stored data are deleted. Plus, their history isn’t recorded.

But, some sites employ various workarounds to determine if users were, in-fact, browsing through Incognito Mode. Now, Google will put a stop to these practices.

Google Chrome Incognito Mode Detection Block coming Soon

Sites are able to determine if users are browsing through Incognito Mode simply by checking on an API. The one exploited is the FileSystem API, which Google first released in 2010. It gives sites the power to create custom virtual file systems in order to read and write local data. 

When users go into the Chrome Incognito Mode, the browser automatically disables access to the FileSystem API. Meaning websites take a peek to see if it’s toggled off. That lets sites know when users are under Incognito Mode.

However, a new series of Chromium Gerrit commits will modify how the system works will change its current practices:

“Since there’s no adoption of the FileSystem API by other browser vendors, it appears to be only used by sites to detect incognito mode. By making this harder, hopefully the overall usage of the API goes down to the point that we can deprecate and remove it.”

In plain English, Google’s upcoming change will no longer allow sites to determine when users are browsing through Incognito Mode.

Ashley Lipman

Ashley Lipman is a super-connector with Outreachmama who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking.

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