Browser privacy settings are not so private, research reveals

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Browser privacy settings are not so private, research reveals

Warwick Ashford

Privacy settings in Firefox, Internet Explorer and other web browsers can expose more details than users expect, security researchers have found.

Researchers from Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon found multiple weaknesses in browser privacy protections, which attackers could exploit to reconstruct a user's browsing history, according to US reports.

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 add-ons, including CookieSafe for cookie controls in Firefox and PithHelmet for Safari object control.

Although private browsing implementations provide privacy against some local and web attackers, they can be defeated by determined attackers, the researchers concluded.

The researchers found that half of the Firefox JavaScript plug-ins they studied, and 71 out of the top 100 Safari plug-ins store their data to disc, enabling attackers to discover which sites have been visited.


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