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Google Chrome Extensions Being Used To Track People

New research is suggesting that your Google Chrome extensions may be used to identify and track your online activity.

The problem lies in Google’s abandonment of third-party cookies, which has pushed developers looking to collect data for advertising to find alternatives, one such being “Fingerprinting”.

For many tracking is something that comes with the environment of the internet, the data collected for ads being a small price to pay for keeping the internet and many of its services free. However, for others, the idea a major corporation, or even a company they have never heard of, tracking their activity is terrifying.

Fingerprinting is able to identify the users device and it’s characteristics such as performance, specifications, apps installed and more. However, a new feature called extension fingerprinting, which fingerprints a user based on what extensions they have installed, poses a new risk.

Credit: Tech Game World

While just extension data alone seems standard, the collected information alongside other user data such as activity which suggests time zones and location, may be used to identify specific people.

The “Extension Fingerprints” was developed by a developer under the alias ‘z0ccc’, according to a BleepingComputer report.

The site scans a user’s browser for 1,170 of the most popular Chrome store extensions, and while certain protected extensions need a secret token to be accessed, z0ccc says that they can still be identified.

“Resources of protected extensions will take longer to fetch than resources of extensions that are not installed. By comparing the timing differences you can accurately determine if the protected extensions are installed,” he said.

In regards to identifying specific people, z0ccc agrees that the technology poses a risk.

“[The fetching web accessible resources method] combined with other user data (like user agents, timezones etc.) users could be very easily identified.”

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