Practicing safe surfing can derail attempts to cruise ‘Net anonymously

Google Safe service can reveal end users even if they hide behind proxies

A Google service that helps protect Internet surfers from malicious sites also gathers data about browsing activities that users are trying to keep secret, a researcher told Black Hat attendees.

Google Safe, a database service that warns Internet users when they are about to enter infected pages, marks browsers so the users can be identified even if they proxy all their traffic through another IP address, says Robert Hansen, CEO of Internet security firm SecTheory. “It’s a privacy-security tradeoff,” Hansen says.

Firefox and Chrome browsers are both susceptible to the problem, he says. Others may be as well, but Hansen hasn’t tested them.

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