Flaw in Chrome for iOS 7 Reveals Incognito Searches

by

Chrome's latest update, which added support for iOS 7, also included a significant flaw that was discovered by design firm Parallax (via TechCrunch). When using the search or address bar in an Incognito window within the app, browsing history will be saved and shared with the standard Google.com browser.


Google’s Incognito mode is designed to keep searches for sensitive information private, but as detailed in the video, searches will be displayed when the standard Google.com browser is accessed. The flaw can be replicated with the following steps:

- Open an Incognito window
- Enter a search term in the address bar and hit enter
- Open a non-Incognito window
- Navigate to Google.com
- Tap the search box on the page to see Incognito searches

TechCrunch contacted Google and learned that there is no fix for the issue, as it is an "unfortunate but unavoidable loophole that comes with building a browser for iOS. The company cites its Incognito support note, which does address the issue.

On Chrome for iOS, due to platform limitation regular and incognito* tabs share HTML5 local storage, which is typically used by sites to store files on your device (client-side caching) or to provide offline functionality. This means the same sites can always access their data in this storage in both regular and incognito* tabs. Incognito* tabs will still keep browsing history and cookies separate from regular tabs, which are cleared once those tabs are closed.

Apple’s default Safari browser does not appear to have the same issue, accurately hiding searches made in Private mode.

Top Rated Comments

Rocco83 Avatar
96 months ago
Hey everyone, Google here. We screwed something up in our browser. Apple's fault, not it!
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
seamer Avatar
96 months ago
I wouldn't be so quick to say "Safari is able to do it." Simply due to the fact Apple doesn't have to follow its own submission process, and their apps can have certain privileges that third-parties cannot.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
willdude Avatar
96 months ago

I wouldn't be so quick to say "Safari is able to do it." Simply due to the fact Apple doesn't have to follow its own submission process, and their apps can have certain privileges that third-parties cannot.


Indeed, this would seem to be exactly the case, since Apple doesn't let third-party apps restrict HTML5 local storage, which is what Google and other sites use for this search history.

It's also been like this since at least iOS 6, so it's weird that it's suddenly getting all this coverage.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PracticalMac Avatar
96 months ago



TechCrunch contacted Google and learned that there is no fix for the issue, as it is an "unfortunate but unavoidable loophole that comes with building a browser for iOS. The company cites its Incognito support note (https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95464?hl=en), which does address the issue. Apple's default Safari browser does not appear to have the same issue, accurately hiding searches made in Private mode.

Someone is dropping the ball.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bacaramac Avatar
96 months ago
Guess I don't see the big draw to not use iOS Safari. I think it works rather well . Guess it provides benefits to some, but I see no reason to stray from built in apps if you don't have to.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
redscull Avatar
96 months ago
Google is flat out full of bologna. This is their bug, irrefutably.

Sure, it's true that local storage is shared between incognito and normal modes, but it's also trivial to prefix all your storage keys with "incognito-" while reading/writing in incognito mode, and ensuring that normal mode never reads/writes storage keys prefixed with "incognito-".

Would your sensitive data still be on your system? Yeah, chrome would have to periodically clear all "incognito-" prefixed keys' values to resolve that. But at least these sensitive values would never be displayed via the browser. Only a data miner with access to your file system could get at them.

This kind of fix could be performed by a novice engineer. It is an embarrassing bug, not Apple's fault. Not unavoidable.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

magsafecasedangle

Apple Elaborates on Potential for iPhone 12 and MagSafe Accessories to Interfere With Implantable Medical Devices

Saturday January 23, 2021 2:42 pm PST by
Since the launch of iPhone 12 models in October, Apple has acknowledged that the devices may cause electromagnetic interference with medical devices like pacemakers and defibrillators, but the company has now shared additional information. Apple added the following paragraph to a related support document today:Medical devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators might contain...
Top Stories 44 Feature

Top Stories: 'Thinner and Lighter' MacBook Air, Smaller iPhone 13 Notch, iOS 14.4 Incoming

Saturday January 23, 2021 6:00 am PST by
We continued to hear a lot more about Apple's plans for its Mac lineup this week, including word of a high-end redesigned MacBook Air and the return of an SD card slot as part of the upcoming MacBook Pro redesign. It also sounds like Apple has been working on Face ID for Mac, but it won't be appearing in a redesigned iMac this year as originally planned. This week also saw rumors about the...
bloodoxygenapplewatch

Apple Watch Series 7 Rumored to Feature Blood Glucose Monitoring

Monday January 25, 2021 5:05 am PST by
The Apple Watch Series 7 will reportedly feature blood glucose monitoring via an optical sensor, according to ETNews. The report, which mainly focuses on the blood glucose capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, explains that Apple is intending to bring blood glucose monitoring to the upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 using a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels,...
maxresdefault

Microsoft Touts Surface Pro 7 as 'The Better Choice' Over MacBook Pro in New Ad

Saturday January 23, 2021 11:02 am PST by
Microsoft yesterday shared a new ad on YouTube titled "Microsoft Surface Pro 7: The Better Choice," in which the company compares its tablet computer to Apple's 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, as spotted by MSPoweruser. The ad highlights the Surface Pro 7's touchscreen and included stylus as opposed to only a "little bar" (the Touch Bar) on the MacBook Pro. Other advantages of the Surface Pro 7...
airpods galaxy buds comparison

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs. Apple AirPods Pro

Friday January 22, 2021 2:34 pm PST by
Samsung in January unveiled new flagship Galaxy S21 smartphones and alongside the new phones, introduced the $200 Galaxy Buds Pro, which are priced at $199 and offer Active Noise Cancellation. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. These new Galaxy Buds Pro are clearly designed to compete with Apple's AirPods Pro, so we thought we'd compare the two sets of earbuds in our...
2021 mbp sd slot feature2

Bloomberg: Next MacBook Pro to Feature SD Card Reader

Friday January 22, 2021 7:50 am PST by
Last week, reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo outlined his expectations for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models later this year, including the return of the MagSafe charging connector, the removal of the Touch Bar, a new flat-edged design, and the return of more ports built into the notebooks for expanded connectivity. A concept of a modern MacBook Pro with an SD card reader Kuo did not...
time to walk apple watch

Apple Fitness+ Feature 'Time to Walk' Launching Soon With Audio Stories From Special Guests

Saturday January 23, 2021 7:13 pm PST by
Earlier this week, Apple seeded the watchOS 7.3 Release Candidate, which is typically the final beta version of a software update. The release notes for the update list a new "Time to Walk" feature for Apple Fitness+ subscribers, described as "an audio experience in the Workout app where guests share inspiring stories as you walk." Apple Fitness+ subscribers will be able to open the Workout...
Flat MacBook Air Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on 'Thinner and Lighter' High-End MacBook Air With MagSafe, Could Launch in Second Half of 2021

Friday January 22, 2021 3:34 am PST by
Apple is working on a "thinner and lighter" version of the MacBook Air that the company plans to release during the second half of this year at the earliest or in 2022, according to a new report by well-connected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. It will include Apple's MagSafe charging technology and a next-generation version of the company's in-house Mac processors. Apple has discussed...
q4 2020 mac growth feature

Mac Sales Skyrocketing After M1 Launch

Tuesday January 19, 2021 3:00 am PST by
Apple's worldwide Mac shipments grew massively in the fourth quarter of 2020 after the launch of three new Macs with the M1 chip, according to new PC shipping estimates shared by Gartner. Apple shipped an estimated 6.9 million Macs, up from the 5.25 million it shipped at the same time in 2019, marking significant growth of 31.3 percent. In spite of the growth of Mac sales, Apple remained...
apple time to walk apple watch airpods 01252021 inline

Apple's New 'Time to Walk' Feature Launches Today for Fitness+ Subscribers

Monday January 25, 2021 6:30 am PST by
Apple today officially introduced Time to Walk, a new feature for Apple Fitness+ subscribers with audio stories from influential people that Apple Watch users can listen to with AirPods or other wireless headphones while walking. Time to Walk episodes will be automatically downloaded to the Apple Watch with a Fitness+ subscription, and users can start an episode directly from the Workout...