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Microsoft Edge’s incognito mode isn’t so incognito

Microsoft Edge
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Microsoft’s Edge browser was launched at the end of last summer to the sound of moderate applause. The tech giant has finally ditched the ancient and increasingly obsolete Internet Explorer in favor of something contemporary, but it still lacks cross-platform and extension support (though we hear that might be coming soon). In the face of these missing features, the browser hasn’t taken off to the extent that Microsoft likely had wished. And now a potentially new blow to the browser has been discovered, relating to a lack of privacy in Edge’s incognito browsing mode “InPrivate.”

Ashish Singh is a security researcher who has performed a forensic investigation on the Edge browser. According to him, the Web browser doesn’t wipe browsing data when InPrivate is activated, and instead the information is still being kept stored in the browser’s WebCache file. More specifically, the sites you visit using Edge remain in the same “Container_n” table that stores tab history from conventional Web browsing.

“Plenty of artifacts are maintained by the browser, which makes examination quite easy. However, there are stages where evidence is not so easy to find. The not-so-private browsing featured by Edge makes its very purpose seem to fail,” Singh wrote in Forensic Focus.

Private browsing is something that’s been popular among Web browsers for a while now. And this function has likely come into even higher demand following scrutiny into software companies’ methods of handling data. What information can and can’t be sold is seldom explained in a clear fashion by the sites we use, and private browsing is a countering tool for when something triggers your Big Brother alarm.

It’s important to note that Microsoft isn’t the only firm with some explaining to do concerning its incognito mode. Earlier in January it was reported that a bug inside Nvidia’s GPU drivers caused websites seen in Google Chrome’s incognito mode to be exposed on a user’s display. In that case, however, the issue wasn’t Google’s, but rather Nvidia’s. Microsoft has sent out a statement in response to The Verge explaining that the firm is aware of the situation.

The statement read: “We recently became aware of a report that claims InPrivate tabs are not working as designed, and we are committed to resolving this as quickly as possible.”

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