Monday, January 16, 2012

Safe Facebooking with Chrome

I don't like the idea that every page on the web with a Like button will tell Facebook that I've browsed to that page. But at least that information is anonymous... so long as I'm not logged into Facebook.

I used to just not stay logged in, only logging into Facebook for “Facebook sessions” in incognito mode, use a different browser and clear the history, etc or similar such mechanisms. But I found this post about Chrome's certificate pinning where Chris describes how to “Twitter Like A Boss”. This inspired me to run a new Chrome process with a separate profile for Facebook, using this command line (via an alias):

/Applications/Google\\ Chrome

With no line breaks, of course.

This isolates Facebook's cookies into a separate profile, which prevents my general web browing in another Chrome instance from being tracked under my Facebook login. It also disables browsing any other sites (following a link will fail, you need to copy/paste into another browser), forces all Facebook connections to use SSL, and disables plugins.

Note that this doesn't use incognito mode (I want to stay logged in now that my everyday browsing isn't affected) and it doesn't use certificate pinning. The main point was to stop leaking information to Facebook. I may get around to figuring out the certificates to pin at some point, but really I'm hoping that a better solution will arise to the problem that certificate pinning is addressing (which is not to say that certificate pinning hasn't already proved effective in critical scenarios).

It's harder to do the same thing with Google because I use so many Google services. The core principle is to use a separate browser instance for each login for corporations like Facebook and Google that have code on so many third-party web pages; this is one way of doing that which happens to have additional security benefits (forcing SSL etc).

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