View Full Version : Can you still access web server history when 'Private Browsing' is activated?
09-28-2007, 08:49 AM
The other day I was bored at work and looked at some dodgy sites (which I KNOW I shouldn't have done but I stupidly did!), and even though I had my Safari's 'Private Browsing' function on which stops people seeing what I've been doing, I'm now really scared my boss will find out and I'll get the chop.
The reason I'm scared is cos he's sent an email round banning the use of non-work related sites like Facebook (and this one probably!) and has said that he 'can and does check what we look at' i.e. accesses his server history records. This has now got me sooo scared that I'll get caught, as because even though I had the 'private browsing function' on, I'm sure he can still see what we've been doing. I've had a horrible couple of days being really sullen and my boyfriend is a bit worried about me (I haven't told him) and I feel so so so stupid – I don't normally do impulsive things like this and I really regret it!
Are there any of you guys out there who know whether a 'private browsing' function would prevent someone seeing web page history access? I don't want to lose my job, especially not over something stupid like this and not since I moved into my new flat. I couldn't bear it – I'd feel so humiliated and stupid.
Am I worrying unnecessarily? Or is my guilty conscience giving me my come-uppance? HELP! HELP! HELP!! :(
09-28-2007, 11:43 AM
Sufficient time and money can reveal your tracks no matter what you try to do to conceal them. Usually, however, whatever you're doing isn't worth the boss's trouble and expense to uncover.
Private Browsing is a good but not an infallible means of keeping your web history private. Anything that you display on your computer has to be cached somewhere, if only temporarily, so that the computer can work with it. In theory, PB erases that cached data as you exit Safari, but I don't know that anyone has yet determined how that erasing takes place. In other words, is it just a "regular" erase from which other apps could recover the data rather easily, or a "secure" erase, that overwrites the data several times and makes recovery much more difficult (but not impossible) to manage? (Given the speed with which PB does its job, I suspect the former rather than the latter to be true. PB is erasing the cached data, but readily available software could probably comb the drive and find the data without too much effort.)
There are quite a few files and folders you could delete to try to cover your tracks, but the only absolutely certain thing to do would be to remove and destroy the hard drive. (That's not a recommendation, by the way.) One step up from that would be to securely erase the entire HD with DOD-level (35?) passes and reinstall the OS, your programs, etc., from the original media. A few steps up from that be to securely erase free space (with Disk Utility) to overwrite whatever potentially recoverable scraps PB might be leaving behind. And the list could go on and on. However, if you've already done the simple things--Private Browsing and Reset Safari--I'd advise you to let the issue go. Tinfoil hats won't help now either.
One more remark, though it will come as no comfort. In all likelihood your office web traffic goes through a router of some sort, and that router may be monitored in any number of ways. Finding out where you go on the web doesn't even require access to your Mac and, therefore, there's really nothing you can do to it to cover your tracks if your boss gets his information by watching what goes through the router's network traffic. This may be one of those moments when you should take solace in the fact that (I'm guessing) you're merely a small fish in the corporate world and not worth catching for a little idle-time shoe-shopping. What's done is done, and, if you come through this okay, know better than to do it again.
09-28-2007, 12:14 PM
In all likelihood your office web traffic goes through a router of some sort, and that router may be monitored in any number of ways. Finding out where you go on the web doesn't even require access to your Mac and, therefore, there's really nothing you can do to it to cover your tracks if your boss gets his information by watching what goes through the router's network traffic.
Proxy server with an encrypted connection. However, this would stand out about as much as the tinfoil hat, announcing that you are hiding something (although they'll never find out what) and thus worthy of a much more detailed examination. Just stay under the radar.
Activating private browsing does only stops Safar from creating a history of your browsing on YOUR computer. Most likely your computer is not connected to the internet directly, but passes through a router and a dns server. The dns server and router typically have a full record of all the websites you visited, only by using an encrypted proxyserver (look at Tor if you want to set one up) can you hide your tracks.:(
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