Browsing histories exposed by web bug
Adult entertainment sites exploiting bug to track user behaviour and serve targeted ads, study finds.
Published 03/12/2010 | 10:19
Researchers at the University of California San Diego found 485 popular websites exploiting the bug.
The bug allows hackers to see what other sites a user has visited, and to use this information to serve up targeted advertising.
The researchers examined 50,000 popular websites, and discovered that 485 were exploiting the loophole, 63 were making a copy of user’s browsing history, while 46 were found to be ‘hijacking’ this history. Adult website YouPorn was the most popular site found to have used the flaw.
“Our study shows that popular Web 2.0 applications, like mashups, aggregators and sophisticated ad targeting, are rife with different kinds of privacy-violating flows,” reads the research paper.
The study found that some browsers, such as Google Chrome and Apple Safari, were not susceptible to the flaw.
The most recent version of Mozilla’s Firefox browser also avoids this loophole, while Internet Explorer users need to turn on “private browsing” to avoid the bug.