THE ANONYMOUS SURFER

If you don’t like the idea of companies tracking the websites you visit, you can surf in private. The problem is, it’s imperfect.

According to researchers at Stanford University, the private browsing modes available in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari (Apple) still allow some crafty trackers to get in. We think it’s a bit paranoid to worry about this, but if you’re concerned, there are solutions. “Real Hide IP” for Windows is free to try, $30 to buy, from download.com. It hides your computer’s “IP” address, which is its identifier, and even lets you choose what country you appear to be from.

Short of that, you can turn on private browsing in Internet Explorer by clicking the picture of the gear on the main screen and then the “safety” button. In Chrome, click on the image of a wrench and choose “incognito mode.” In Firefox and Safari, click the tools menu and choose “private browsing.”

Fourteen percent of Safari users browse in private, but only two percent of Internet Explorer users bother to turn on private browsing, and the guess is they mainly do it to look at pornography or keep gift lists secret. Without private browsing, anyone with access to your computer can check on where you’ve been on the web by holding down the control button and tapping “h.” This brings up a history of sites that have been accessed.

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