More security news • • • • • Google and Mozilla have ejected the popular Stylish extension from their respective catalogs following a complaint that it collects data about website visits in a way that could be used to identify users. The browser extension, which has about two million users, became a hit because it lets users put their own overlay on websites and hide features they don't want to see. Software engineer Robert Heaton detailed the extension's demise from what he describes as a useful tool he'd used for several years to the privacy threat it is today. He argues that the 'Stylish browser extension steals all your internet history' and collects enough information to identify individuals from historical web usage. SEE: (ZDNet special report)| (TechRepublic) SimilarWeb's that the extension collects HTTP requests, URLs used, anonymized IP addresses, and a range of search-engine data, including keywords, results, links, and ads displayed.
SimilarWeb says, 'We are not aware of and cannot determine the identity of the users from whom the non-personal information is collected.' But, according to Heaton, that's wrong because the extension sends users' complete browsing history, along with a unique identifier for each user, to SimilarWeb's servers. This process allows a technically adept insider or malicious hacker to 'theoretically' connect the historical data to an individual, he says. There is no suggestion SimilarWeb aims to do this, because the company's business model relies on aggregated user data. Nonetheless, Heaton argues: 'This allows its new owner,, to connect all an individual's actions into a single profile.