[tor-talk] if browser remembers URLs visited before shutdown even during Never Remember History
nick_levinson at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 26 01:33:05 UTC 2018
On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, 2:01:04 AM EDT, Joe <joebtfsplk at gmx.com> wrote: > * * * * *> Is the claim that Firefox (vs. TorBrowser, based on Firefox esr version) stores visited URLs in places.sqlite regardless of settings under > Privacy & Security? > The subject of this message is confusing. Is it asking the question, "does browser remember URLs..."?
> Or telling us, "browser does remember URLs..."?
> You said it's years old. I doubt that would've slipped by Tor Project & all users for years.
> Where is the data claimed to be stored?
> The title sound like, "if Firefox remembers URLs visited before shutdown, then they won't be deleted, even if that's checked under Clear > History.
> If I understand you & the subject, the claim is that even when "Never Remember History" is checked, it is remembering visited URLs *during* that session, but deletes them when the browser is closed, or if "Clear History" is used during the session?
> However, if "remember browsing and download history" is checked AND you DON'T have "Always Use Private Browsing Mode", TBB will > remember history during the session, but not after shutdown.
> As far as I've ever seen, TBB deletes any history of any type, whether you have "clear history" settings checked, or not. That's by design.
> How is it a security leak? During a session, are sites supposedly able to tell which sites you visited, directly or indirectly?
> There was a bug in Fx many, many yrs ago - where sites could make a query of some type & determine if sites had been visited. AFAIK, that was fixed long ago.
> During that period, users couldn't have visited links change colors.
It's about Tor, but I'll explain as if Tor is based on Firefox by describing the Firefox problem. Suppose it's set to Remember History. I visit example.com. Firefox remembers the URL. So far, no problem. Then I change Remember History to Never Remember History. I have no idea that it's still remembering example.com. Someone inspecting my computer can see that I visited example.com when I think they can't see any history. That's a security leak.
One could argue why I'd let anyone inspect my computer. However, Never Remember History is offered for a reason, probably as protection against anyone inspecting my computer.
The URLs are definitely stored somewhere. I proved that. Which file it's in, I don't know. It's stored somewhere available after powering down and powering up, i.e., through a cold boot. I tried identifying the exact location but failed. But it's somewhere there. I tested without networking or a removable (flash) drive (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1476152#c10). Therefore, it had to have been stored on my local hard drive.
The complaint for Firefox is years old. It still has not been solved for Firefox. Thus, unless Tor people monitor most unpatched Firefox complaints (and there are many and most of them are unimportant), Tor people could have missed this one. A wontfix or invalid for Firefox might not be a decision appropriate for Tor.
Users could easily miss it for years. The user interface says Never Remember History. The meaning is unambiguous. The problem is that the UI's meaning does not reflect the programming inside Firefox. Most users would never test the truth of any UI. They would trust the UI. Therefore, in this case, most users would be misled.
The title was about Tor, albeit inspired by Firefox's problem. Firefox is definitely storing the URLs. If Tor uses the same design insofar as relevant, then Tor is also storing the URLs.
Clear History is not the complaint's subject. As far as I know, Clear History works. However, Never Rememmber History implies that the history is being cleared just by selecting Never Remember History. If a user should apply another step, the UI should not make a sweeping overclaim or else it should explicitly tell the user to take that step.
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