Monday, December 6, 2010

Tracking Web browsers

What's the latest security issue with Web browsers? Knowing where you've been. And telling.

You know how on a Web browser, you can hit the back button and it'll take you to the page you were just on. And how you can do that over and over? For a bit, anyway?

Well, the browser can do it because it keeps up with where you've been. And, some Websites can have code that tracks where you've been.

Lot of browsers report where you just came from. Suppose you clicked a link to come to this Website, your browser probably included the page you were on in the HTTP_REFERER header (yes, it's correctly misspelled as "referer"). But this security issue isn't that. It's the actual reading of the Web browser history.

Didn't know they could do that? Yeah, well they can. For lots of browsers anyway. LikeInternet Explorer and Firefox. And older version of Chrome and Safari.
The report adds to growing worry about surreptitious surveillance by Internet companies and comes as federal regulators in the U.S. are proposing a "Do Not Track" tool that would prevent advertisers from following consumers around online to sell them more products.

The researchers found 46 sites, ranging from smutty to staid, that tried to pry loose their visitors browsing histories using this technique, sometimes with homegrown tracking code. Nearly half of the 46 sites, including financial research site and news site, used an ad-targeting company, Interclick, which says its code was responsible for the tracking.
Oh, and I'm not saying we have any of that kind of tracking code here, but some of you people are freaks. Seriously. I can't believe the places some of you go.

I do wonder, though, what would happen if WikiLeaks got hold of this information for, say, the president? Or some of his cabinet? So, I did some digging. And here's what I found.

Obama's most-visited Websites?
Joe Biden's most-visited Websites?
  • Trick question. His computer is an Etch-A-Sketch.
I'm sort of afraid to ask, but ... what do you think are the most-visited Websites by some high-profile people? Oh, and you may not want to include a link. Or I may not want you to.

1 comment:

  1. Barney Frank's favorite site starts with a GOAT and ends with SE.CX. But, you already knew that.


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