Your information leaking laptop and mobile batteries: Research

If you think that you can hide your identity by switching to Incognito mode on your web-browser or using the Proximity tool, then you are in a big misunderstanding. A new research has shown that the battery of the device also makes a lot of information about us public.

A team of security researchers has published a paper titled ‘The Leaking Battery’ which discusses the information being made public about us by the device’s battery. Researchers have told that this is not happening due to any malware, but behind it is the technology HTML5 used for the World Wide Web.

HTML5’s Battery API lets a website know about the battery left in a visitor’s device. Actually, the purpose of this feature is to give information about the visitor’s device to the web publisher. For example, if there is not much battery left in a device, then in such a situation a web publisher may offer a low energy consuming version of its website to the visitor.

But during this time information like how much battery life is left in the device, how long will it take to fully discharge and the current charge level gets shared due to this feature. The more websites we browse, the more information the website gets. In such a situation, it becomes possible to collect all this information about us in one place and the risk of our identity being made public also increases.

“Many websites have a third-party script that can link to each visit of a user within a limited time frame. This is made possible by the information about the battery that the web script receives,” the study read.

It further reads, “The readings will be the same on each site as the update intervals are also the same. This way the third party scripts get to store the details of all your visits. Also if you exit these sites also but after some time visit another site where the same third-party script is present. It is possible that these readings can be used to link the current visit to the old one.”

As of June 2015, support for the Battery Status API was available on web-browsers such as Firefox, Chrome and Opera, researchers reported. Researchers say that users can use Tor, a browser based on Firefox, for more privacy and security.

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