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New web privacy system prevents your data from leaking to other sites

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
October 6, 2014
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One of the biggest threats to your online privacy is the mixture of code that you'll find on some websites. It's all too easy for a legit-looking page to hide data-stealing code, or for innocent sites to accidentally expose your info. If Google, Mozilla and researchers have their way, though, you won't have to worry quite so much about where that info is going. Their new COWL (Confinement with Origin Web Labels) system prevents JavaScript from sharing data with outside websites that aren't explicitly approved; even when the data gets the all-clear, it won't necessarily spread anywhere else. In theory, it should be harder for ne'er-do-wells to hijack a page and grab sensitive content without your knowledge, or simply for you to lose control of where that content goes.

You won't have to wait long if you want to try this security measure for yourself, since COWL will be available to use with both Chromium and Firefox browsers on October 15th. Don't expect it to help out much at first -- web developers will still have to implement the labeling system for it to be useful. If it takes off, however, you won't (usually) have to fret that seemingly trustworthy online services are really swiping your account details behind the scenes.

[Image credit: Getty Images]

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