This Week In Security: Schemeflood, Modern Wardialing, And More!

There’s been yet another technique discovered to fingerprint users, and this one can even work in the Tor browser. Scheme flooding works by making calls to application URLs, something like steam://browsemedia. If your machine supports the requested custom URL, a pop-up is displayed, asking permission to launch the external application. That pop-up can be detected by JavaScript in the browser. Detect enough apps, and you can build a reasonable fingerprint of the system the test is run on. Unlike some previous fingerprinting techniques, this one isn’t browser dependent — it will theoretically give the same results for any browser. This means even the Tor browser, or any browser being used over the Tor network, can give your potentially unique set of installed programs away.

Now for the good news. The Chrome devs are already working on this issue, and in fact, Chrome on my Linux desktop didn’t respond to the probes in a useful way. Feel free to check out the demo, and see if the results are accurate. And as for Tor, you really should be running that on a dedicated system or in a VM if you really need to stay anonymous. And disable JavaScript if you don’t want the Internet to run code on your computer.
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