So you think you’re anonymous online?
Over the last couple years, Firefox and Google Chrome have been building out their browser features. Google Chrome has promoted their computer-to-computer calls and Google Hangouts. This month, Firefox introduced their Skype-like service named Hello. Both services employ a technology known as WebRTC and with it you’re losing your ability to remain anonymous online
WebRTC or Real-Time Communication is protocol that enables browsers to communicate with each other peer-to-peer. You’d normally use an intermediary platform like Skype to do this. Google released the code to the public in 2011 and that typically leads to lots of development, experiments, and sometimes unintended consequences.
Developers recently learned how to use WebRTC to identify a user’s private IP address, which is assigned to their PC or device by their Internet connected router. This is something that only users on the internal network would see. They also learned how to use it to detect proxy connections and identify both your proxy IP address and the address you are concealing: your Internet connection.
Below is what WebRTC can reveal about a proxy connection. This first example is a connection made through the desktop application HideMyAss VPN. You can see the private IP address of the PC and the proxy server, along with the IP addresses of the proxy and the user’s Internet connection:
For a certain fix, try a NAT firewall, which tunnels all traffic between your PC and a VPN server. You can also assign different tasks to your browsers and hold back on using Firefox or Chrome on a sensitive website.