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Apple Safari 15 browser bug can leak your web activity, personal data

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According to a new report, a software bug in Apple browser Safari 15 may allow any website to track your internet activity and even reveal your identity via macOS, iOS, and iPadOS 15. Your Google User ID could also be exposed to other websites as a result of the bug.

In this case, the vulnerability is also suspected to affect private mode viewing in the Safari 15 browser.

The bug was discovered by FingerprintJS, a browser fingerprinting and fraud detection service, to be caused by an issue with Apple’s implementation of IndexedDB, an application programming interface (API) that stores data on your browser.

“IndexedDB is a browser API for client-side storage designed to hold significant amounts of data. It’s supported in all major browsers and is very commonly used,” FingerprintJS said in a statement.

According to the report, more than 30 websites interact with indexed databases directly on their homepage, with no additional user interaction or authentication required.

“We suspect this number to be significantly higher in real-world scenarios as websites can interact with databases on subpages, after specific user actions, or on authenticated parts of the page,” said the FingerprintJS team.

IndexedDB, like most modern web browser technologies, adheres to the same-origin policy.

The same-origin policy is a fundamental security mechanism that limits the ability of documents or scripts loaded from one origin to interact with resources from other origins.

For example, if you open your email account in one tab and then visit a malicious website in another, the same-origin policy prevents the malicious website from infecting your email.

“In Safari 15 on macOS, and in all browsers on iOS and iPadOS 15, the IndexedDB API is violating the same-origin policy,” FingerprintJS said.

When a website interacts with a database, it creates a new (empty) database with the same name in all other active frames, tabs, and windows within the same browser session.

Unless you switch to a different profile, such as in Chrome, or open a private window, windows and tabs usually share the same session.

This means that other websites can see the names of databases created on other sites, which may contain information specific to your identity.

The leak was reported by FingerprintJS, but there hasn’t been an update to Safari yet.

“The fact that database names leak across different origins is an obvious privacy violation. It lets arbitrary websites learn what websites the user visits in different tabs or windows,” they said.


About the author

Jike Eric

Jike Eric has completed his degree program in Chemical Engineering. Jike covers Business and Tech news on Insider Paper.

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