There are many ways to protect your privacy online. The easiest among them is to browse while your browser is in incognito or private mode. It turns out, our favorite browser Google Chrome, does the poorest job of protecting our privacy while on incognito.
Yes, all those porn sites you visit thinking no one will ever call you out on them. Turns out, if you’re visiting these ‘unholy’ sites on Chrome browser, somebody can still burst you. Apparently there is a bug with nVidia GPU that overrides Chromes safeguards for the incognito mode thereby revealing your browsing history while you’re incognito.
This shocking revelation was made by one Evan Anderson, an ECE student studying at the University of Toronto. Anderson was playing Diablo III and as the resources were loading on his computer, he got snapshots of what was clearly from his browsing history on Chrome while in incognito mode.
You see, the thing is while you’re browsing on incognito mode. It is supposed not only not store your browsing history, but also prevent other apps from knowing what you’re browsing. When Anderson started playing Diablo 3, his screen started splashing porn stuff that he was previously viewing on Chrome browser while in incognito mode.
Anderson in his blog post wrote, “When I launched Diablo III, I didn’t expect the pornography I had been looking at hours previously to be splashed on the screen. But that’s exactly what replaced the black loading screen.”
Anderson zeroed in on the cause of this Google Chrome Incognito mode fail to be caused by the nVidia GPU. In his bug submission to Google, he explains:
“GPU memory is not erased before giving it to an application. This allows the contents of one application to leak into another. When the Chrome incognito window was closed, its framebuffer was added to the pool of free GPU memory, but it was not erased.
When Diablo requested a framebuffer of its own, nVidia offered up the one previously used by Chrome. Since it wasn’t erased, it still contained the previous contents. Since Diablo doesn’t clear the buffer itself (as it should), the old incognito window was put on the screen again.”
Anderson also says he reported this flaw to both Google and nVidia two years ago. nVidia on its part has acknowledged the bug. However, Google listed the bug under ‘won’t fix’ given Chrome incognito mode has a disclaimer of not being a 100% guarantee that other people or apps will not see your browsing activities.