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Battery Status Indicators Can Track Users

     
2:55 pm on Aug 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Researchers have discovered the battery status indicator, used on mobiles to provide helpful information about battery status, can be used by bad actors to track user behaviour and browsing.

It just seems to me yet another innocent utility could be used by the unscrupulous to know more about individuals and their movements.


Now, two security researchers from Princeton University have shown that the battery status indicator really is being used in the wild to track users. By running a specially modified browser, Steve Engelhard and Arvind Narayanan found two tracking scripts that used the API to “fingerprint” a specific device, allowing them to continuously identify it across multiple contexts. Battery Status Indicators Can Track Users [theguardian.com]
And while it is only tracking scripts using it now, Olejnik warns that unscrupulous actors could do more.
3:34 pm on Aug 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see anything about how to manage, if possible, this.

Can you turn this off? If so does that create a situation where the phone just shuts down with no warning when the battery dies? Does that depend on the make or age of phone?
5:02 pm on Aug 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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It seems you can, but it's a little more complicated than it should be.

Here's what Mozilla says
[developer.mozilla.org...]
6:10 pm on Aug 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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It's a W3C effort: [w3.org...]

Chrome supports it too.

You can see it in action here and implement it yourself if you like: [steveedson.co.uk...]

"Hey, your battery is low. Want us to send you this article for later?"