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Firefox gets next-gen anti-tracking defense, stymies ‘bounce’ trackers


Mozilla today announced a new defense against advanced tracking tactics that it will be switching on in Firefox 79 starting immediately and pushing out to the remaining user base during the next few weeks.

Calling the improved technologies and techniques Enhanced Tracking Protection 2.0 – Mozilla said that ETP 2.0’s primary job is to block redirect tracking, also known as bounce tracking.

Trackers have been exploiting a loophole of sorts to continue following users browsing with Firefox, which enabled its first-generation ETP by default in June 2019. ETP takes a hands-off approach for first-party cookies – those tied to the site being browsed – because to do otherwise would break many of those websites or require users to, say, log in each time they returned.

Trackers exploited that.

“Redirect tracking takes advantage of this to circumvent third-party cookie blocking,” Steven Englehardt, a Mozilla privacy engineer, said in an Aug. 4 post to a company blog.

To do so, those practicing redirect or bounce tracking force users to “make an imperceptible and momentary stopover to their website” so that their trackers can be loaded as first-party and thus have their cookies stored by Firefox (for later reuse, as first-party cookies are). The redirect or bounce tracker than sends the user on to the latter’s destination website, now burdened with identifiers following them and reporting back to the first-party cookies.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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