Monday, August 31, 2020

Identifying People by Their Browsing Histories

Lukasz Olejnik:

In 2009-2011 we did some research work motivated with a positive aim of educating web users about certain risks of browsing history leaks. The pointed to a perhaps unexpected conclusion. It indicated that web browsing histories may be unique to the user. In our study, the number of unique user fingerprints revealed by observing the set of visited websites was as much as in 97% of cases. Furthermore, such fingerprints were stable over time (in 38% of analyzed cases). We also found that limiting to just 50 most popular sites, the uniqueness was still substantial.

That was the early 2010s. In 2020 the situation is different. Today, user’s private data are processed at an order of magnitude greater scale than in 2010. Fortunately, someone verified that the result holds.

See also: Bruce Schneier (Hacker News).


Update (2020-09-07): See also: Hacker News.

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