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Autofill security risk in most browsers except Firefox

Read Time: 2 mins

Here’s why you’ll probably want to turn off browser autofill
January 18, 2017

It’s annoying to type your personal details — name, address, phone numbers, all the rest of it — every time you need to fill out on online form.

Browser makers realized this years ago, which is why your browser spares you the tedium, helpfully filling in the blanks when you type the first letter of your name, or the first digit of your address.

Finnish developer Viljami Kuosmanen demonstrated [last week] that in many (not all) browsers, if you start to fill in basic information like your name and email address, all your other autofill information becomes invisibly available to the site. That can include your name, home address, credit card details and workplace, not just the limited amount of information you thought you were giving away.

If you’ve autofilled a form in a browser other than Firefox, you can give it a try on this site, which Kuosmanen set up to demonstrate the problem. Global News successfully used Kuosmanen’s site on Chrome, extracting a reporter’s address after he had only put in his name and email.

Firefox doesn’t have the problem, but other browsers such as Chrome, Opera and Safari do.

Test your browser HERE: if you’re vulnerable, the test page will show you what information is revealed and also includes a link in your browser automatically taking you to where you can turn autofill OFF.

Here’s how to turn off autofill:

  • In Chrome: Settings/Show Advanced Settings/Passwords and Forms, and unclick Enable Autofill to fill out Web forms.
  • In Opera: Settings/Privacy & Security/Autofill and uncheck the box.
  • In Safari: Preferences/Autofill tab/ and uncheck the appropriate boxes.
  • In Firefox (though this shouldn’t be as necessary): Options/Privacy. In the Firefox will: menu, uncheck Remember search and form history.
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