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jhotz
Dec 06, 2012

How can you prevent history sniffing by online ad companies?

I wasn't even aware of history sniffing until I ran across an article on Salon this morning about an FCC action against an online advertiser over it. Basically, it uses the function that changes the color of URLs that you've visited to see where you have been. They would put up a page that had thousands of links that were invisible to visitors, then they could see if the visitor had been to any of those linked sites. Here is the article about it, if anyone is interested: http://www.salon.com/2012/12/05/an_online_privacy_invader_gets_caught/

Is there any way to prevent this type of thing? Nothing really comes to mind, but I certainly don't like the idea of advertisers circumventing all of my privacy settings and knowing what sites I've visited in the past.

jimlynch
12/07/2012
Here's an article with some tips.

Browser History Sniffing and Other Tracking Techniques
http://antivirus.about.com/od/securitytips/a/historysniffing.htm

"By default, links change color when you have visited them. Browser history sniffing compares the link colors of links in your history folder to a master list of links (and their default non-visited colors) maintained by the website operator. A color mismatch indicates a particular site has been visited. Clearing your browser history can help prevent browser history sniffing. If clearing and keeping your browser history set to zero isn't an option, you can change how Internet Explorer and Firefox handle visited link colors."
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stylor
12/07/2012

I think if you set your browser's cache to "0" and disable history, that should make history sniffing pretty difficult to accomplish.  NoScript might also be worth considering, but honestly, I find NoScript to be a bit of a pain when I'm just surfing around at home.  

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