This is a question that you might have seen before. It’s also the first thing to pop up when you browse through your browser and at the end of some website URLs, such as http://www.samsung.com/. The answer: A favicon is an icon embedded on a web page which usually represent what kind of site it is like for example with Apple iTunes we would see an apple or perhaps a golden record player if its music related. They are often used in social media websites like Facebook and Twitter where they show what type of account created them, so users can easily identify their friends status updates
The “favicon tracking test” is a website that allows you to see if your browser has been set up to track your favicons. If so, it will show you the websites that are tracking them.
We usually have a billion tabs open in our computer browsers, and it’s only then that we realize how important the little icons on each tab are. Favicons are a kind of icon that may save your life. They’re a must-have for every serial tab opener, but can these seemingly benign graphics be used to track people online?
In this essay, we’ll go over the basics of Favicons and see whether they may be utilized to monitor your online activities.
Also see: What are browsers and how do they work? The technology underlying web page rendering
Favicons, as previously said, are little graphics that appear next to a website’s name on a browser’s tab. Although Favicons may seem to the end user to be a gimmick, they assist in the identification of websites and the creation of a brand image for the website.
Favicons may also be found in the browser’s history pages, bookmarks, and even search bar suggestions. As a result, a Favicon will almost certainly follow you over the internet.
What are Favicons and how do they work?
Your web browser makes a request to a webserver to retrieve the Favicon pictures for a website when you visit it for the first time. The Favicon pictures are then saved locally in a cache known as the Favicon cache (F-cache). Aside from that, the F-cache also contains the following information.
- It’s time to live, according to the Favicon ID.
- For URL parameters, there are data entries.
- Visited sites and subdomains
These caches are not emptied when you empty your browser’s cache since the F-cache does not contain cookie data that may be used to identify people on the Internet. As a result, the Favicon pictures of the websites you visit are saved on your machine indefinitely.
Also see: What is Chrome’s Pre-rendering? Is it invading your personal space?
Favicons may be used to monitor people on the Internet, according to the University of Illinois’ study article Persistent Tracking in Modern Browsers: Tales of FAVICONS and Caches.
The article also demonstrates that this tracking mechanism works even when users use anti-tracking measures. Browser fingerprinting may be avoided by utilizing Incognito mode, using a VPN, emptying the browser cache, or even employing anti-tracking add-ons. As far as browsers go, the majority of them have been harmed by this attack vector. Below is a list of browsers that are impacted, along with their versions.
Persistent Tracking in Modern Browsers: Tales of FAVICONS and Caches
As a usual research procedure, the authors of the article alerted browser developers about the attack vector. Brave’s developers improved the way the F-cache works, safeguarding users from the attack. Firefox was also safe from the assault since it fetches Favicons even if they are already cached in the F- cache.
Also see Google Floc: What Is It? Is it bothersome?
Jonas Strehle, a German software engineer, was inspired by the study report and built the supercookie repository on Github to demonstrate how the assault may be carried out. Not only that, but visitors can watch the assault live on this website.
Favicons are requested by your browser every time you visit a website for the first time, as previously stated. Favicons are retrieved from the cache if you have already visited a website. On the Internet, this variation in request behavior may be used to identify people.
Overall, Favicon tracking is harmful since it operates even when users utilize anti-tracking tactics to defend themselves. Representatives from Google and Apple, on the other hand, have said that they are aware of the assault and are working to resolve the problem.
Also see: How to set up sleeping tabs in Microsoft Edge.
Curiosity drives a tech fanatic. A traveler and a bibliophile. An engineer who enjoys coding and writing about new technologies. I can’t go a day without coffee.
Nischay may be reached by email at [email protected].
Frequently Asked Questions
Can favicons track?
Should I delete favicons?
A: No, the favicons are helpful to distinguish between threads in forums. If a user wants to remove his or her favicon they can do so by going into edit mode and deleting it from their profiles cosmetic page on Reddit.
How do I block favicon tracking?
- supercookie test