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NamePros.com Gets Outed In Browser History Sniffing Fiasco

December 10th, 2010 Comments off

In a story on ZDNet this week, adult website YouPorn.com is being sued for “browser history sniffing”.  ZDNet points to a study conducted by University of California, San Diego of the global to 50,000 sites on the internet. In the study the researchers claim to have “confirmed that 46 websites used browser (history) sniffing to see which sites users visited before they arrived, and noted 326 sites they deemed “suspicious” in history tracking practices.”  Of the 46 sites mentioned, Namepros.com was one that the researches found to be engaging in this ‘suspicious’ browser history sniffing and “actually doing history hijacking”.

Browser history sniffing typically uses javascript to allow the site operator to gain access to information about site users.  Much of the information can be used to improve user experience. Typically online aggregators, social bookmarking services and ad networks use code that sniffs browser histories.

The UCSD report also mentions other sites such as Youtube and Microsoft were also performing some covert behavioral sniffing of site visitors.  Many more sites are likely involved in browser history sniffing or some form of behavior tracking, some may not even be aware that they are doing so.   Ad networks, browser tools and other services provided by companies like Interclick and Meaningtool reportedly are the source of most of these “suspicious activities”.

The plaintiffs in the case claim YouPorn is violating the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as well as California computer laws as well as deceptive and unfair business practices and competition. We suspect that NamePros was using scripts from an ad network Feedjit, as owner Ron James points out in our comments section, and was caught up in what looks like a privacy-witch-hunt.  We’ve emailed NamePros.com owner Ron James about this story and have not heard back from him yet.

If you want to protect yourself from browser history sniffing, there are some things you can do . According to an article on About.com , you can delete your browser history cache frequently or change the way that your browser handles visited links.  If you click on a link in most browsers it changes color. The sniffers compare your cache to see what links in your cache you have clicked, if you set your “visited link” color to the same color as a “non-clicked” link this may block the sniffer from know where you visited.  DNN provides no guarantee that this will protect you from browser history sniffing.

(c) 2010 DomainNameNews.com (8)


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