Web Browser Privacy Settings Flawed
Do you believe that your browser's privacy settings hide your viewing habits? Think again.
According to researchers from Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon, their first-ever study of the privacy mode in browsers found multiple weaknesses, which attackers could exploit to reconstruct a browser's true history. The researchers plan to present their findings at this week's Usenix Security Symposium in Washington.
To assess the security of browsers' privacy modes, the researchers examined privacy controls, cookie controls, and object controls in Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 8, Google Chrome, Apple Safari 4, and Opera 10. They also evaluated numerous add-ons, including CookieSafe for cookie controls in Firefox, AdBlock Plus for controlling objects -- such as suppressing banner advertisements from displaying -- in Firefox, and PithHelmet for Safari object control.
What the researchers found were numerous vulnerabilities in how these browsers and add-ons approach privacy. As a result, "current private browsing implementations provide privacy against some local and web attackers, but can be defeated by determined attackers," they said.