DNS Cache-Based User Tracking

Amit Klein, Benny Pinkas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

We describe a novel user tracking technique that is based on assigning statistically unique DNS records per user. This new tracking technique is unique in being able to distinguish between machines that have identical hardware and software, and track users even if they use “privacy mode” browsing, or use multiple browsers (on the same machine). The technique overcomes issues related to the caching of DNS answers in resolvers, and utilizes per-device caching of DNS answers at the client. We experimentally demonstrate that it covers the technologies used by a very large fraction of Internet users (in terms of browsers, operating systems, and DNS resolution platforms). Our technique can track users for up to a day (typically), and therefore works best when combined with other, narrower yet longer-lived techniques such as regular cookies - we briefly explain how to combine such techniques. We suggest mitigations to this tracking technique but note that it is not easily mitigated. There are possible workarounds, yet these are not without setup overhead, performance overhead or convenience overhead. A complete mitigation requires software modifications in both browsers and resolver software.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publication26th Annual Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, NDSS 2019
PublisherThe Internet Society
ISBN (Electronic)189156255X, 9781891562556
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event26th Annual Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, NDSS 2019 - San Diego, United States
Duration: 24 Feb 201927 Feb 2019

Publication series

Name26th Annual Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, NDSS 2019

Conference

Conference26th Annual Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, NDSS 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego
Period24/02/1927/02/19

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© NDSS 2019.All rights reserved.

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