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How does Craigslist remember my last visited location in private browsing?

Posted

This is for a Mac running OSX 10.8 using private browsing with no exceptions of any kind for any site..

I use a Craigslist bookmark for, say  Pittsburgh. I then switch inside CL to, say,  Los Angeles CL. I then close FF.
   

I restart FF and using my Craigslist bookmark for Pittsburgh I log in to CL again.

This is when the problem starts: Little Snitch (a program that alerts you to outgoing internet connections) asks for permission to log in the the Los Angeles site that I logged out from and restarted FF. SO CL KNOWS MY LAST VISITED CL SITE after I shut down FF

    How is this happening and how can I stop it? And why does private browsing let it happen?

Additional System Details

Installed Plug-ins

  • Shockwave Flash 11.5 r502
  • Displays Java applet content, or a placeholder if Java is not installed.
  • The QuickTime Plugin allows you to view a wide variety of multimedia content in web pages. For more information, visit the QuickTime Web site.
  • Garmin Communicator Plug-in Version 4.0.4.0
  • The Google Earth Plugin allows you to view 3D imagery and terrain in your web browser.
  • iPhoto6

Application

  • Firefox 23.0.1
  • User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.8; rv:23.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/23.0
  • Support URL: http://support.mozilla.org/1/firefox/23.0.1/Darwin/en-US/

Extensions

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  • BetterPrivacy 1.68 ({d40f5e7b-d2cf-4856-b441-cc613eeffbe3})
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  • Firebug 1.11.4 (firebug@software.joehewitt.com)
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  • Ghostery 5.0.3 (firefox@ghostery.com)
  • Troubleshooter 1.1a (troubleshooter@mozilla.org)
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  • Flashblock 1.5.17 ({3d7eb24f-2740-49df-8937-200b1cc08f8a}) (Inactive)
  • Status-4-Evar 2013.02.16.23 (status4evar@caligonstudios.com) (Inactive)

Javascript

  • incrementalGCEnabled: True

Graphics

  • adapterDescription:
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  • adapterDrivers:
  • adapterRAM:
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  • numAcceleratedWindows: 1
  • numTotalWindows: 1
  • webglRenderer: NVIDIA Corporation -- NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M OpenGL Engine
  • windowLayerManagerType: OpenGL

Modified Preferences

  • browser.cache.disk.capacity: 10240
  • browser.cache.disk.smart_size.enabled: False
  • browser.cache.disk.smart_size.first_run: False
  • browser.cache.disk.smart_size_cached_value: 1048576
  • browser.history_expire_days.mirror: 180
  • browser.places.importBookmarksHTML: False
  • browser.places.smartBookmarksVersion: 4
  • browser.privatebrowsing.autostart: True
  • browser.search.useDBForOrder: True
  • browser.startup.homepage: http://news.myway.com/index/id/top|ap.html
  • browser.startup.homepage_override.buildID: 20130814063812
  • browser.startup.homepage_override.mstone: 23.0.1
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  • places.history.expiration.transient_current_max_pages: 104858
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  • plugin.importedState: True
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  • plugins.click_to_play: True
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  • privacy.sanitize.sanitizeOnShutdown: True
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Misc

  • User JS: No
  • Accessibility: No
philipp
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2043 solutions 8891 answers

Helpful Reply

are you logging in to your CL account while using private browsing? (private browsing will only take care of traces left on your computer, but can't control what a website is doing with data that's available)

Question owner

The entire operation is done with Private Browsing enabled, that's why it's such a weird problem.

I must clarify something: when I say "login to CL" . I should have said "start CL". I don't have an account with CL so logging in can't happen. As far as CL is concerned I'm an anonymous user.

If PBrowsing really doesn't allow writing to my computer without my knowledge (can it really erase all Cache writing on shutdown?) then what could be causing the behavior I'm seeing? And BTW I have verified it several times with different CL sites. It always knows where I have been when I restart CL after logging out from FF.

philipp
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2043 solutions 8891 answers

i cannot really replicate the issue with the steps you've mentioned in a new profile (create a bookmark for a specific city, open private window, load bookmark, change to another city, close private window, access the bookmark again -> leads to the address originally specified in the bookmark).

i think i don't really understand the role that Little Snitch is playing - could you attach a screenshot of the notification it is showing/permission it is requesting?

Question owner

Here is a screenshot of what Little Snitch provides. If you click Allow you will be taken to the PITTSBURGH (bookmarked) CL site! This happens automatically if you don't have LS or something similar installed -- i.e. you'd never know that THEY know you visited the LA site. That's what happened when you did your steps above.

cor-el
  • Top 10 Contributor
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10751 solutions 96757 answers

Start Firefox in Safe Mode to check if one of the extensions (Firefox/Firefox/Tools > Add-ons > Extensions) or if hardware acceleration is causing the problem (switch to the DEFAULT theme: Firefox/Firefox/Tools > Add-ons > Appearance).

  • Do NOT click the Reset button on the Safe Mode start window.
philipp
  • Top 10 Contributor
  • Moderator
2043 solutions 8891 answers

it's just a guess but it might well be an "issue" with little snitch or the dns cache of your system itself. no matter if you use the domein name tijuana.craigslist.com.mx or ny.craigslist.com, these are all served over the same server/ip address (208.82.236.225) - so it's likely that firefox just pings the ip 208.82.236.225 and instead of an unintelligible string of numbers little snitch is showing the last dns entry it has associated for this ip (it may be an internal database in the firewall or using the dns cache of your operating system) - so this information probably won't leave your machine.

you could try to clear the dns cahce after you leave private browsing mode: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5343

in case you have a static ip address websites could track you by that despite all these precautions though...

Helpful Reply

Cor-El: thanks for the suggestion but as soon as I go to the CL site in safe mode the same box as in the screenshot above appears.

phillipp: I did clear the dns cache after closing ff. Restarted ff and tried to visit CL with the same result as the screenshot shows. Thanks for your other suggestion. It does make sense and I hope you are right that the info can't leave my computer. Thanks for your help with my problem!