In light of the “private browsing” claims being made, Stanford University conducted research to investigate the privacy of the “private browsing” feature on some web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari). Apparently, many popular browser extensions and plugins undermine the security of private browsing and many kinds of information can be leaked by browsers when using the “private browsing” mode.
Privacy mode, sometimes informally referred to as “porn mode”, is a term that refers to privacy features in some web browsers. Historically speaking, web browsers store information such as browsing history, images, videos and text within cache. … en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_browsing
An Analysis of Private Browsing Modes in Modern Browsers (Gaurav Aggarwal and Elie Bursztein, Stanford University; Collin Jackson, CMU; Dan Boneh, Stanford University) will be presented at the USENIX security conference and it suggests that the these browser tools aren’t really private after all.
We study the security and privacy of private browsing modes recently added to all major browsers. We first propose a clean definition of the goals of private browsing and survey its implementation in different browsers. We conduct a measurement study to determine how often it is used and on what categories of sites. Our results suggest that private browsing is used differently from how it is marketed.
We then describe an automated technique for testing the security of private browsing modes and report on a few weaknesses found in the Firefox browser. Finally, we show that many popular browser extensions and plugins undermine the security of private browsing. We propose and experiment with a workable policy that lets users safely run extensions in private browsing mode. PDF file (15 pages)
1. Do you use “private browsing”
2. If you do use “private browsing” which browsers and add-ons, extensions, plugins, etc. do you use?
3. Did you place any confidence in the “private browsing” claims previous to reading about this research?