Browse anony­mously on An­droid

MAR­TYN CASSERLY shows you dif­fer­ent apps and set­tings that can keep you anony­mous while surf­ing the web

Android Advisor - - Contents -

You might feel se­cure when us­ing the In­ter­net on your phone, but the truth is that all your ac­tiv­i­ties could be mon­i­tored by a num­ber of in­ter­ested par­ties. To put a stop to this here are a few dif­fer­ent ways to stay anony­mous.

Is pri­vate brows­ing mode ac­tu­ally pri­vate?

The most ob­vi­ous place to start is with the web browser you al­ready use. Most of­fer some kind of

pri­vate or incog­nito mode, which prom­ise to forget any sites you’ve vis­ited, but these are not quite as safe as they might sound.

While the searches won’t be stored on your de­vice, they will still be vis­i­ble to your In­ter­net Ser­vice Provider, the web­sites you visit, or your em­ploy­ers if you’re us­ing a work con­nec­tion.

Also, any down­loads you make re­main in your down­loads folder af­ter you’ve fin­ished brows­ing, so you’ll need to re­move those man­u­ally.

If you only want to keep things pri­vate from other mem­bers of your house­hold then the pri­vate modes are fine. If you want to keep things pri­vate to the par­ties we’ve men­tioned above then you’ll want to use a VPN ser­vice as well. We’ll cover that be­low.

To en­able the pri­vate mode on your browser fol­low these in­struc­tions.


On Chrome you’ll find it in the up­per right cor­ner with the icon of three dots. Tap this, then se­lect New incog­nito tab from the menu. The frame of the browser will now be dark and you’ll see a lit­tle hat and glasses icon in the sta­tus bar at the top.


In Mi­crosoft’s Edge browser you’ll need to tap the three dots in the bot­tom right cor­ner, then se­lect New InPri­vate tab from the op­tions that appear.

Fire­fox Fo­cus

While the nor­mal Fire­fox browser has a pri­vate mode,

we’d rec­om­mend you down­load a dif­fer­ent browser: Fire­fox Fo­cus, which is per­ma­nently in that state.

Which is the most se­cure web browser for An­droid?

While the main­stream of­fer­ings have pri­vate modes, there are some that are built from the ground up to pro­tect your pri­vacy and anonymity on­line.

StartPage ( is one of our favourites, as it boasts a zero-data col­lec­tion pol­icy that means the browser doesn’t store any in­for­ma­tion about you, in­clud­ing your IP ad­dress, which is of­ten how web­sites know who or where you are.

This is bol­stered by SSL en­cryp­tion so your ISP won’t know what you were search­ing for, and all brows­ing his­tory is ‘scrubbed and anonymized’ to

en­sure you are pro­tected. StartPage is com­pletely free and an easy way to cur­tail any snoop­ing from overly nosey park­ers.

Other good op­tions are Or­bot: Tor for An­droid (, which fea­tures a built-in VPN, and if you want to stop sites track­ing you, then Ghostery ( or Duck­DuckGo ( fave.

co/2IvuesQ) are fine choices.

Why you should use a VPN for mo­bile web brows­ing

If you don’t want to swap browsers, or just want to add even more lay­ers of pro­tec­tion, then a VPN is the way to go. These Vir­tual Pri­vate Net­works cre­ate a se­cure, en­crypted tun­nel through which you con­nect to the web. This makes is vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble for hack­ers to see what you’re up to.

There are a num­ber of ex­cel­lent paid ser­vices, such as NordVPN (­nWuW) and Ex­pressVPN (, plus sev­eral free op­tions too.

For de­tails on how to use a VPN on an An­droid de­vice, see our next tu­to­rial.


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