Skip to main content

On the Privacy of Private Browsing – A Forensic Approach

  • Conference paper
  • First Online:
Data Privacy Management and Autonomous Spontaneous Security (DPM 2013, SETOP 2013)

Abstract

Private browsing has been a popular privacy feature built into all mainstream browsers since 2005. However, despite its prevalent use, the security of this feature has received little attention from the research community. In this paper, we present an up-to-date and comprehensive analysis of private browsing across four most popular web browsers: IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari. We report that all browsers under study suffer from a variety of vulnerabilities, many of which have not been reported or known before. Our work highlights the complexity of the subject and calls for more attention from the security community.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 39.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 54.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. 1.

    Given the often negative connotation of using the private mode for viewing adult websites (see [5]), we consider the fact of using the private mode a privacy feature by itself. If the remote website learns the user is in the private mode, it may push more adult-oriented advertisement to the user.

References

  1. Chrome Private Browsing Mode. https://support.google.com/chrome/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=95464&p=cpn_incognito. Accessed April 2013

  2. Mozilla Firefox Private Browsing Mode. http://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/private-browsing-browse-web-without-saving-info. Accessed April 2013

  3. Safari Private Browsing Mode. http://support.apple.com/kb/PH5000. Accessed April 2013

  4. Internet Explorer Private Browsing Mode. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-vista/what-is-inprivate-browsing. Accessed April 2013

  5. Aggarwal, G., Burzstein, E., Jackson, C., Boneh, D.: An analysis of private browsing modes in modern browsers. In: The 19th USENIX Symphosium on Security (2010)

    Google Scholar 

  6. Said, H., Mutawa, A.H., Awadhi, A.I., Guimaraes, M.: Forensic analysis of private browsing artifacts. In: International Conference on Innovations in Information Technology (IIT) (2011)

    Google Scholar 

  7. Ruiz-Martínez, A.: A survey on solutions and main free tools for privacy enhancing Web communications. J. Netw. Comput. Appl. 35(5), 1473–1492 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Collin, J., Bortz, A., Boneh, D., Mitchell, C.J.: Protecting browser state from web privacy attacks. In: The 15th International Conference on World Wide Web (WWW) (2006)

    Google Scholar 

  9. Most Popular Web Browsers. http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp. Accessed April 2013

  10. VMware Player Version 4.0.0. http://www.vmware.com/products/player/. Accessed April 2013

  11. Click & Clean. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ghgabhipcejejjmhhchfonmamedcbeod?utm_source=chrome-ntp-icon. Accessed April 2013

  12. Clear DNS Cache. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/clear-dns-cache/. Accessed April 2013

  13. Jeon, S., Bang, J., Byun, K.: A recovery method of deleted record for SQLite database. Pers. Ubiquit. Comput. 16(6), 707–715 (2011)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Eckersley, P.: How unique is your web browser? https://panopticlick.eff.org/browser-uniqueness.pdf. Accessed April 2013

  15. The Official Website for the TOR Project. https://www.torproject.org/. Accessed April 2013

  16. Kreyszig, E.: Introductory Mathematical Statistics. Wiley, New York (1970)

    MATH  Google Scholar 

  17. Selenium. http://seleniumhq.org/. Accessed April 2013

  18. Standard Chrome Extension API. http://developer.chrome.com/extensions/. Accessed April 2013

  19. Experimental Chrome Extension API. http://developer.chrome.com/extensions/experimental.html. Accessed April 2013

  20. Open-Source Software Tools Developed for the Research of Private Browsing. http://homepages.cs.ncl.ac.uk/m.j.forshaw1/privatebrowsing/

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Feng Hao .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

About this paper

Cite this paper

Satvat, K., Forshaw, M., Hao, F., Toreini, E. (2014). On the Privacy of Private Browsing – A Forensic Approach. In: Garcia-Alfaro, J., Lioudakis, G., Cuppens-Boulahia, N., Foley, S., Fitzgerald, W. (eds) Data Privacy Management and Autonomous Spontaneous Security. DPM SETOP 2013 2013. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 8247. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-54568-9_25

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-54568-9_25

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-642-54567-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-642-54568-9

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics