In a blog posted last week, researchers at security firm Identity Finder outlined methods for accessing personal data from Chrome's History Provider Cache, even if the data has been entered on a secure website. Some data also may be accessible through Chrome's Web Data and History databases, the researchers say.
The researchers found flaws in Chrome's SQLite and protocol buffers, which sometimes store personal information such as names, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, and credit card numbers.
"Chrome browser data is unprotected, and can be read by anyone with physical access to the hard drive, access to the file system, or simple malware," the blog states. "There are dozens of well-known exploits to access payload data and locally stored files."
The vulnerabilities in Chrome have been known for some time, but the researchers say that their proofs of concept are the first to demonstrate the ease with which attackers could access and steal personal information.
"By connecting the dots, we hope to educate all Chrome users that Chrome stores sensitive data unencrypted, alert users of the risks of stored Chrome data, and encourage individuals and enterprises to engage in sensitive data management best practices," the blog says.
Identity Finder has notified Google of its new research, but has not yet received a response, according to the blog.
Users can protect their personal data by taking simple steps to protect data in the history cache files, Identity Finder says.
"Anytime you enter a credit card number or other [personally identifiable information] into a form, be sure to "Clear saved Autofill form data," "Empty the cache," and "Clear browsing history" from the past hour, and the information you typed will be erased," the blog says. "Alternatively, disabling Autofill or using Incognito mode will protect form data."
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