Products & Solutions
This feature seems to have gotten lots of attention since the launch of Windows 8, but the truth is that it’s been out there for a while. More and more I’m starting to see this feature active on most computers I’ve analyzed. Which makes me wonder, are employees under the impression that Internet activity can be “hidden/destroyed” by using InPrivate Browsing on their work computers?
To answer this question, lets look at how InPrivate Browsing works.
Basic Browser Functionality
When you launch your browser to go online, your browser assumes you are a good guy/gal trying to make the world a better place. It also assumes that you want to get your results pretty fast. So it goes about recording your activity, logging sites you visit, stores your passwords, files you download, cookies, your searches and more. Not forgetting that neat autocomplete feature to save you time from typing out the full string.
This is all great, if your intention is to save the world. For employees that have something to hide, these features are a headache. So private browsing becomes an option…or so they think.
Private Browsing – Time to hide your tracks
Flip the switch and all the above features are gone. Your browser stores NOTHING. Well, let me put that in context. It may store a bit, but only for the duration of your current session. Even Flash now supports browsing in Porn Mode.
Are your tracks now hidden, really?
The idea with InPrivate Browing is to protect you from others seeing your Internet activity. Here’s what some employees seeking “privacy” don’t get, InPrivate Browsing only works for your local browser. Which means, security only on your computer. Keep a lookout for those shoulder surfers
Since Porn Mode only works for your local computer, networked devices like a company router can still capture Internet activity intended to be “private”. Not forgetting that the ISP can also capture this traffic.
That’s not all, Private Browsing only works for your active browser. If there is an application that logs what your browser is doing (eg. Spy/Audit Application), then the objective of Private Browsing is defeated.
For hardcore techies and those committed to their course of destroying internet activity…and protecting their “privacy”, a few tools and tricks are out there. I’ve come across tricks like changing your IP and/or MAC address, using TOR, linux distros etc. All these make the work of a Digital Forensic Investigator very exciting.
Some interesting stats from a study done by Mozilla on Private Browsing
For the full blog post visit -http://blog.mozilla.org/metrics/2010/08/23/understanding-private-browsing/
Though people switch into Private Browsing mode throughout the day, there are a few periods where activation surges:
My final thoughts on this: Private browsing works if you are trying to hide your Internet activities from your husband, wife, mistress, girlfriend, boyfriend, Mom, Dad…you get the picture J You WILL get caught if you try this out at work.
Happy browsing in 2013!
By: Antonio Pooe (CFE, ACE)
CEO: Exactech Forensics LLC
Our primary mission is to help organizations improve their fraud resistance levels and thus become more profitable. Secondary to that is to make a positive contribution in business ethics at our clients and society in general. Read More