Browser Privacy Settings Are Not So Private, Research Reveal

Security researchers have today revealed that privacy settings in Firefox, Internet Explorer and other web browsers may be exposing more personal details than users expect.

Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon have teamed up to carry out an in depth investigation into the weaknesses in browser privacy protections. These weaknesses may allow hackers access to a user's browsing history and therefore could have a huge impact of privacy.

Researchers have surveyed the privacy controls, cookie controls, and object controls in Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 8, Google Chrome, Apple Safari 4, and Opera 10 and have also evaluated relevant add-ons, including CookieSafe.

Although the privacy controls currently in place may provide privacy from some local and web attackers, this report suggests that they can be overidden by determined attackers.

The report has found that half of the Firefox JavaScript plug-ins they studied, and 71 per cent of the top Safari plug-ins store data to disc, which may enable attackers to discover which sites have been visited.

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