Using Incognito when browsing pornographic online might give you a sense of security that folks can’t see what sort of dalliances you prefer.

That might not be the case following a joint study conducted by Microsoft Research, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pennsylvania. The study carries the frightful title “Tracking sex: The implications of widespread sexual data leakage and tracking on porn websites” and the content is even more grim.

As you might be aware, companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon are able to track users around the web using cookies.

The study found that there is a lot more tracking happening on porn websites than you might think.

To make matters worse, Incognito browsing doesn’t help to protect your privacy. While the mode does stop your browser from recording information, that doesn’t stop third-party applications from doing so.

“Our results indicate tracking is endemic on pornography websites: 93% of pages leak user data to a third-party; the pages that leak data do so to an average of seven domains; 79% have a third-party cookie (often used for tracking); of the pages with cookies, there is an average of nine cookies; and only 17% of sites are encrypted, allowing network adversaries to potentially intercept login and password details,” reads the study.

The researchers say that the danger in this tracking is that porn sites often don’t do a good job of hiding what folks are watching via the URL. This information could be linked to other online activities and used against the user. This is further exacerbated by what is described as often lax security.

“The particularly sensitive nature of data collected by porn web-sites, combined with their comparatively lax security, can prove irresistible to hackers. In a 2012 porn site attack, hackers said the site’s mediocre security made it, ‘too enticing to resist’. The hackers stole data of more than 73 000 subscribers including email addresses, passwords, usernames, and information from 40 000 credit cards,” reads the study.

The main issue outlined in the study is that porn websites don’t explicitly state how users are being tracked and what services are being used to track them.

The danger with this is that a firm such as Facebook could use this information to build an even deeper understanding of you as a user.

The study concludes by asking that regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulations be re-looked at, specifically as regards to online tracking consent.

Of course that won’t be an overnight process and you might want to protect your privacy right now. Our advice is to make use of a VPN which can help to hide your activities online.

It’s not an iron clad solution but it should help to stop folks from knowing that you like memes during the day and porn at night.