Mozilla created shortcuts, favicon caching, Windows

Discussion in 'privacy problems' started by TheWindBringeth, Mar 10, 2013.

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  1. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

    Feb 29, 2012
    Some of you probably heard about this already, but for those who haven't...

    It seems the Mozilla folks recently made some changes to the way shortcut files are created on Windows. When you drag a URL from the address bar or from a webpage to the desktop for example. The basic concept being to cache the favicon for the site and then add IconFile=<path to that icon> to the shortcut file so that the shortcut file's icon is the associate site's favicon. These icons are stored in the shortcutCache folder in the profile (folder) that was being used when the shortcut was created. One problem being that the path to said icon can become no longer valid due to a reinstall, dismounting the volume the profile is on, moving the shortcut file to another machine, etc. Icon caching by Windows comes into play. A related Mozilla support thread with useful links at the top is here:

    I've seen this affect both Firefox and Thunderbird, perhaps other products are affected as well. It appears there is no associated preference at the moment but one is scheduled for Firefox 21. Looks like it will be (false = generate shortcut files the old way).

    There are two privacy issues I can think of here:

    1) The storing of the favicons in the shortcutCache. They reveal which sites you've visited and created shortcuts for. One quick test with private browsing enabled suggests to me that an icon is still created in the shortcutCache folder but it is a Firefox icon rather than the site's icon. Those interested in this might want to do more testing.

    2) The shortcut file that is created will contain within it a string showing the full path to the icon file within your profile. That path may contain personal info and/or reveal something about your filesystem, mount points, etc that you wouldn't want put into all the shortcut files you create.
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