Monday, December 6, 2010

'History sniffers' could be monitoring your porn sites

Posted By on Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 12:59 PM

The things people do in their ongoing effort to sell people crap they don't need nor want! Tech geeks have figured out how to "sniff" your Internet history. Why would anyone want to do that? Because they're trying to figure out what you like so they'll know which products to spam you about. That means, should your computer be sniffed, strangers are sifting through your online habits ... good and bad, boring and kinky. I don't know about you, but I see a side business blooming out of this. Who wants to bet divorce lawyers will be next in line for this information?

Dozens of websites have been secretly harvesting lists of places that their users previously visited online, everything from news articles to bank sites to pornography, a team of computer scientists found.

The information is valuable for con artists to learn more about their targets and send them personalized attacks. It also allows e-commerce companies to adjust ads or prices — for instance, if the site knows you've just come from a competitor that is offering a lower price.

Although passwords aren't at risk, in harvesting a detailed list of where you've been online, sites can create thorough profiles on its users.

The technique that researchers at the University of California at San Diego investigated is called "history sniffing," and is a result of the way browsers interact with websites and record where they've been. A few lines of programming code are all a site needs to pull it off.

Read the rest of his MSNBC/Associated Press article, by Jordan Robertson, here.

Further reading: Reclaiming consumer dataThe New York Times

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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