May 262010

Did You Know – clever websites can identify you by the different groups you belong to on Social Networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Bebo etc.

How can they do that?  – mathematics.
Each Group on a social networking site has it’s own URL internet address, If you belong to several groups on social networking sites, the addresses of these groups that you have visited are held by your web browser, the prying website’s code contains a hidden list of group addresses, when you visit this site any addresses held by your browser that match a group address in the hidden list are flagged up to the prying website plus your computer’s IP address.
So “they” now know which groups you belong to on the various social networks.
The username of each member of each group on social sites are public, software creates a subset database of all members of each group that you belong to, the mathematics of data mining then extracts your usernames as the best probability of a “match” (you could be the only person who belongs to all of “your” groups, the more groups you belong to the more accuratley “they” can identify you).  

Is it legal?   Yes
Yes, they extract your identity using information that you inadvertently give them. Because their technique makes use of your web browser’s features not it’s vulnerabilities, no Trojans, Worms or Viruses are used – it is not illegal, just morally wrong?  (because they don’t use nasties such as trojans / worms / viruses you are not protected by your firewall or anti-virus package)

Can I protect myself?    Yes.
Yes you can protect your identity from these prying websites, it is easy but  inconvenient. Regularly use a program such as EZsystemcleaner or EvidenceBlaster to safely remove your surfing habits, this will protect you from this “Identity Leak” .  Although your bookmarks / favourites will be intact, the inconvenience is that your browser will have forgoten all the websites that you regularly visit and have set to remember you or remain logged in.
Having to login at each new visit is not a big price to pay for your online safety though and it may not be for long, as eventually the browsers will no doubt be upgraded to block this new Identity Leak.