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March 23, 2009updated 19 Aug 2016 10:06am

Google Chrome, Firefox incognito mode privacy flaw

Google Chrome’s incognito mode is meant to keep any sites that you visit during a browsing session - when using Chrome’s incognito mode -- private. Google says incognito mode could be useful if you are looking for presents for the wife, for example, and don’t want her to see which online stores you have visited.


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Users of incognito mode would hope that Chrome’s history is kept clear of any site visits they would prefer to keep private – whether shopping for the wife or indeed visiting sites that she or the rest of the family might not approve of.

But it turns out there’s a big flaw with the incognito mode, that effects both Chrome and Firefox. When using Chrome or Firefox to stream media files, it is not uncommon for them to use Windows Media to act as the streaming player – files with extensions such as .avi and .wmv. Only trouble is, Internet Explorer keeps a copy of these file names in the IE history, regardless of whether incognito mode was turned on in Chrome or not.

Users are noting that IE is storing these file type names in its history even when they didn’t realise they were using IE – they were using Chrome or Firefox as their browser of choice but they happened to use IE’s Windows Media capabilities for file streaming.

So I guess for now the advice is either not to stream any media that you would prefer to remain incognito, or if you do, you’re going to have to open IE at the end of your browser session and delete its history.

Thanks to Polybore for bringing this to my attention by posting a comment on one of my previous blog entries.

Continue reading page 3 here.

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