Identity Finder Discovers Google Chrome Users Are Vulnerable To Sensitive Data Theft

Google Chrome cache file stores unencrypted personal information without Web users' knowledge

October 10, 2013

3 Min Read


NEW YORK, NY -- October 10, 2013 -- Identity Finder, LLC (, the leading provider of sensitive data management solutions, today reveals virtually all versions of Google Chrome insecurely store sensitive data such as credit card and social security numbers. This unprotected data can be read by anyone with physical access to the hard drive, access to the file system or simple malware. This risk affects more than 99% of Chrome users, and as the leading browser worldwide, more than half of all Internet users.

Using Identity Finder's Sensitive Data Manager software, company researchers conducted a search for personally identifiable information (PII) across typical business users' computers. Among staff who used Google Chrome as a primary browser, Sensitive Data Manager pinpointed several files (notably the History Provider Cache) storing a range of information including names, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, bank account numbers, social security numbers and credit card numbers. Despite users having entered this information on secure websites, Google Chrome saved an unencrypted copy of data entered into web forms and the address bar (omnibox) on each employee's hard drive.

After discovering the vulnerable sensitive data, Identity Finder researchers demonstrated a proof-of-concept exploit that would allow malicious code to upload this Chrome cache data to a third party site. In this attack scenario, a criminal would only have to trick users into allowing the exploit access to their file system. The exploit does not require users to enter sensitive information, their system credentials or to decrypt any stored data.

"With most sensitive data stored by Chrome, such as passwords, the only way for malware or a hacker to gain access is if a user is logged in. However, in this case some information is stored in clear text and is accessible whether or not the user is logged in," said Todd Feinman, CEO at Identity Finder. "By default, Google Chrome stores form data, including data entered on secure websites, to automatically suggest for later use. This stored data is unencrypted text and accessible if your computer or hard drive is stolen or is infected with malware."

Any business that must comply with PCI-DSS is at increased risk of failed audits and increased costs because employees entering credit card data in Chrome are inadvertently expanding their cardholder data environment. Identity Finder's findings underscore the need for sensitive data management practices at home and in the enterprise.

Employees and consumers can easily protect themselves by following good sensitive data management practices. Anytime a credit card number or other PII is entered into a form, simply "Clear saved Autofill form data", "Empty the cache" and "Clear browsing history" from the past hour and restart Chrome, and the information will be erased. Alternatively, disabling Autofill or using Incognito mode will protect form data.

For more information on how to clear Autofill data or how you might be affected, visit

About Identity Finder

Identity Finder, LLC, based in New York, NY, is the leader in sensitive data management. Its security and privacy technologies provide businesses and consumers the ability to prevent data leakage and identity theft.

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