[NetBehaviour] Indiscrete web browsers assist de-anonymisation.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Wed Feb 3 12:25:57 CET 2010

Indiscrete web browsers assist de-anonymisation.

A test on browser fingerprinting by the Electronic Frontier Foundation 
(EFF) has shown how uniquely identifiable a user's browser is on the 
web. What that test is unable to do is to identify individual users. 
This, however, is the goal of an experiment by the International Secure 
Systems Lab (Isec Lab). Originally founded by the Vienna University of 
Technology (TUV), Isec Lab is now a collaborative venture between TUV, 
Eurécom and the University of California in Santa Barbara. The test 
makes use of Xing, a platform widely-used in Europe on which many 
millions of users have published profiles.

The test essentially exploits the fact that many Xing users are 
identifiable by their membership of various groups. According to 
Thorsten Holz, one of the researchers who designed the experiment, there 
are very few people on any social network who belong to exactly the same 
groups. A 'group fingerprint' could thus allow websites to identify 
previously anonymous visitors.


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