Boffins from Southern California have caught YouPorn.com and 45 other sites pilfering visitors' surfing habits in what is believed to be the first study to measure in-the-wild exploits of a decade-old browser vulnerability.
“We found that several popular sites – including an Alexa global top-100 site – make use of history sniffing to exfiltrate information about users' browsing history, and, in some cases, do so in an obfuscated manner to avoid easy detection,” the report states. “While researchers have known about the possibility of such attacks, hitherto it was not known how prevalent they are in real, popular websites.”
The 46 sites exploit a widely known vulnerability that currently exists in all production version browsers except of Apple's Safari, which earlier this year became the first major browser to insulate users against the threat. Google Chrome, which is based on the same Webkit engine, soon followed. Beta versions of Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer also fix the problem, but production versions of those browsers are still wide open.
A PDF of the paper, which was written by Dongseok Jang, Ranjit Jhala, Sorin Lerner, and Hovav Shacham, is here. ®