A Bug In nVidia GPU Leaves Your Chrome Browsing History Exposed

A Bug In nVidia GPU Leaves Your Chrome Browsing History Exposed

If you think you’re safe with incognito mode on Google Chrome, you need to have a rethink as a certain bug in nVidia GPU leaves your browsing history exposed. This doesn’t only include your browsing session in regular mode, your browsing history in incognito mode too is exposed.

The bug was first detected by Evan Andersen, an ECE student at the University of Toronto. While trying to play Diablo 3 and resources were loading, he was presented with a snapshot of his browsing session in Chrome’s incognito mode. This becomes worrisome since the incognito mode is what prevents other apps from seeing one’s browsing history. In his own words, he said:

When I launched Diablo III, I didn’t expect the pornography I had been looking at hours previously to be splashed on the screen. But that’s exactly what replaced the black loading screen.

He has submitted the bug to Google and here is the explanation he gave on his blog after investigating the issue himself:

GPU memory is not erased before giving it to an application. This allows the contents of one application to leak into another. When the Chrome incognito window was closed, its framebuffer was added to the pool of free GPU memory, but it was not erased. When Diablo requested a framebuffer of its own, Nvidia offered up the one previously used by Chrome. Since it wasn’t erased, it still contained the previous contents. Since Diablo doesn’t clear the buffer itself (as it should), the old incognito window was put on the screen again.

Evan Anderson said he reported this to nVidia and Google 2 years ago. nVidia acknowledged the problem but Google marked the bug as “won’t fix” because incognito mode is not a sure guarantee other users on the same computer won’t see your browsing history.

Despite reporting the issue two years ago to nVidia and Google, the problem remains even till January 2016.
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