Your online adult surfing habits are not as secret as you think

If you think watching adult movies in private or incognito browsing mode can hide your digital footprints; you are wrong!

Software engineer Brett Thomas says that no matter how you watch an adult movie, you are being tracked.  Brett says adult movie watchers world over everywhere are being tracked and with an extensive list  of every clip they’ve viewed.

Internet is filled with all different things that you could possibly imagine including adult movies. Over 30 million people in the United States watch adult movies regularly according to Wall Street Journal. So if you secretly downloaded one adult movie and thought that the world would not know about it, you are wrong.

Brett has outlined just how easy it would be for a hacker to reveal your online adult movie/clips watching preferences in a post on his blog.

The warning comes from software engineer Brett Thomas, who said on his blog: ‘If you are watching/viewing porn online in 2015, even in Incognito mode, you should expect that at some point your porn viewing history will be publicly released and attached to your name.’

He said: ‘At any time, somebody could post a website that allows you to search anybody by email or Facebook username and view their porn browsing history. All that’s needed are two nominal data breaches and an enterprising teenager that wants to create havoc.

‘I think the next big internet privacy crisis could expose the private and potentially embarrassing personal data of regular people to their neighbors.’

If hackers got hold of access logs for just one website that knows your name (even if it is nothing to do with porn) and view logs for just one of the adult websites you’ve visited, it could come up with a list of porn you’ve viewed, he said.

According to Brett, the starting point for some hackers could be your web browser’s digital “fingerprint” which is a unique combination of settings that you use when you’re surfing the web. Nearly every site you visit logs your digital fingerprint even if you use “private or incognito” browsing and Brett says, hackers could figure out your browsing history simply by linking together fingerprints found on separate websites.

Brett explains the technicalities of identifiers :considerations:

  • Browser footprints: Web browsers leave an essentially unique footprint every time you visit a web page, even in Incognito mode (and even without supercookies). This is well established; many web tools such as Panopticlick will confirm that you give a website lots of information about your computer every time you visit.
  • Global identifiers: Linking your browser footprint on one website to your footprint on another website – or to a previous footprint on the same website – is straightforward. You should think of your browser footprint as a persistent global identifier, and this is particularly true if you don’t take any measures to hide your IP address (eg. a VPN).
  • User tracking: Tracking web users is super valuable, so almost every traditional website that you visit saves enough data to link your user account to your browser fingerprint, either directly or via third parties. The Economist ran an overview of user tracking in September. (Though, interestingly, there is no mention of adult websites.)
  • Hacking is ubiquitous: We hear about data breaches that involve tangible harm – Target, Anthem, TurboTax – but not the (likely great majority) of cases when hackers don’t want additional exposure. Or, paraphrasing the FBI director: There are two types of companies…those that know they’ve been hacked…and those that don’t know they’ve been hacked.

This is similar to the forensics science where the police examiner ties a suspect’s DNA to a murder scene. Quite similarly a malicious hacker could track the adult movies you watch by first breaking into any website that knows your personal identifiers, like Google Plus or Facebook, and gather your digital footprint.

Based on this data the hacker would then only need to view the logs for a single adult website you’ve visited to match your identity with a “high probability,” Brett says.

So if you are thinking of watching an adult movie online anytime soon, remember this post and what Brett has to say about it.

“But I think the next big internet privacy crisis could expose the private and potentially embarrassing personal data of regular people to their neighbors – perhaps as described above, perhaps in a different form. I worry about the policy measures that could be hastily enacted in response to such an event – yet another reason that the tech community should take a more proactive approach ensuring data privacy.”