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  • They know what you are running

    Home Forums AskWoody blog They know what you are running

    • This topic has 18 replies, 11 voices, and was last updated 5 months ago by anonymous.
    Viewing 13 reply threads
    • Author
      • #2317965
        Susan Bradley

        Whenever you surf, there’s a “user agent string” that advertises to the web sites what operating system and browser you are running.  It also advertis
        [See the full post at: They know what you are running]

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady

        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2317968
        AskWoody Plus

        So, what did your sister do after that???

        • #2317972
          Susan Bradley

          Handed me her ipad and I closed the app by sliding the Edge browser app up.

          Susan Bradley Patch Lady

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2317970

        It sounds like some settings need to be tweaked (like for Safari, Check if the “Block Pop-ups” and “Fraudulent Website Warning” toggles are enabled).

        How to stop browsers from opening
        April 10, 2020

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2317971
        AskWoody Plus

        That looks really sneaky. It even has an image of the Mac’s “Update” icon on it. I understand that the Web sites one visits need to know at least which browser one is using. Not sure the sites also need to know what type of computer one is using. Either way, the only defense is to be weary of sudden notices abut imminent dire danger showing up onscreen and, if they do so in a browser window, hovering the cursor over any likely URL link to see if it is for real or not.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        • #2318030
          AskWoody MVP

          I understand that the Web sites one visits need to know at least which browser one is using. Not sure the sites also need to know what type of computer one is using.

          They don’t really need to know any of that, which is why Google has decided to get rid of the useragent string (eventually), and what Google decides is what happens in the modern internet. All sites need to know is what your browser can do (have the site query the browser for features it wants to use) and what the screen size and DPI is, and maybe whether it’s a touch device at the margins that could be a large tablet or small laptop.

          The deprecation of the useragent is the main reason that has given up on their old business model, which depended on sniffing useragents from various browsers on sites across the web that ran their analytics scripts. I think their decision to pack it in just now is a little early, as useragents are still very much in use now, but it is clear that in the days of surveillance capitalism, things that help distinguish a user from everyone else is potentially on the chopping block. The web was conceived and created long before any inkling of what the threat profiles would become, and the level of spying and trading in people’s personal data was certainly not foreseen.

          Any popup that’s triggered by a browser should be clearly marked as coming from the browser. I don’t see anything indicating that in the image, and that’s disturbing. Perhaps Apple’s minimalist approach (withholding information not seen as essential) isn’t as ideal as many think.  Any “malware detected” or other such “system message” from a browser should, of course, immediately be dismissed, but if it looks like it may be from the OS itself, people may mistake it for such.

          As much as vendors like Apple try to make using the web so simple that it can be done by people who don’t have or need any understanding of the underlying technology, there is still a need for a certain amount of knowledge that’s necessary to remain secure. If that fake malware warning attempts to phish a credit card number out of the user, the relative security of the OS itself doesn’t prevent that. The complexity of modern systems gives a lot of attack surface, even ones as locked down as iOS.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.5 User Edition)

          5 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2317976
        AskWoody Plus


        Nothing to worry about, Apple users! This is just a website presenting “Apple Notification” or “System Notification”. They look like from the Apple (iOS System) device, but they are actually not. Just close the webpage and those notifications will go away.


      • #2317982
        Nathan Parker

        I also cover a similar story, but for Mac users, here:

        Nathan Parker

        5 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2317987
        AskWoody Plus

        “..and Apple devices are not immune….”

        They are not immune if you install Microsoft’s bloat, like Edge.
        This wouldn’t have happened using Safari.

        • #2318031
          AskWoody MVP

          Are popup messages that are not clearly marked as coming from the browser not possible in Safari? All browsers use Safari under the surface in iOS, so I would think it would be much the same.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.5 User Edition)

      • #2318043
        AskWoody Lounger

        Big brother is watchig. Hope you do not annoy big brother, so he wont pursue you.
        I thought, that its common thing for website to detect what system/browser you are running. Thats why webpage automatically adjusts resolution when viewing on PC or mobile phone. Notice, that if you enter some URL on a mobile device, you are automatically redirected to instead of in sake of viewing properly.

        I saw these scam popups before, but I had that much common sense, that I closed the tab and never clicked any link. Its obvious that website notification does not equal notification from iOS itself.
        Its just immitation of iOS notification.

        If notification comes from my iOS, I would tap on that.
        If some webpage announces I have virus/I won million canadian dollars, I would never click that button. Its about users atention too.

        Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

        HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2318046

        I’ve been thinking about an extension that fakes the user agent string. There’s a tech youtuber I keep an eye on that uses it, he argues that you can use it to “blend in” a lot more easily with the common user (who, I imagine, is on Windows 10 and Chrome). If you’re, say, on Linux and Firefox, that’s two minorities and you’re gonna stand out.

      • #2318052
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        User Agent String is a furphy, you can get all the info you want from a bit of javascript.

        cheers, Paul

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2318121
        AskWoody Plus

        All browsers use Safari under the surface in iOS

        No, they don’t. All iOS browsers use only iOS WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript all the rest is each browser’s own features, otherwise why should anyone develop a browser for iOS ?

        • #2318158
          AskWoody MVP

          All iOS browsers use only iOS WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript

          Webkit being the renderer Apple develops for their browser, Safari. It’s the native renderer for Safari, and would be used only in Safari if iOS didn’t force it to be so, since every other browser uses another backend, whether it be Blink or Gecko. It’s the same reason people call the new Edge “Chredge,” as it is Chrome (or Chromium) under the surface (though the renderer is called Blink).

          all the rest is each browser’s own features, otherwise why should anyone develop a browser for iOS ?

          For the same reason MS developed Edge with a Chromium base. To have a different front-end. If you want it to integrate with Firefox’s sync platform, that’s a front-end thing, and the same is true if you want it to work with Microsoft’s ecosystem.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.5 User Edition)

          • This reply was modified 5 months ago by Ascaris. Reason: Elaborating!
      • #2318149

        I am currently using Chrome on Win 7 Desktop (no battery). With User Agent Smart Switcher running and CyDec Anti-Fingerprinting, the result on the above website is confusing.

        Operating System
        Linux x86_64
        Browser Plugins
        Chrome PDF Plugin
        Chrome PDF Viewer
        Native Client
        right level job door research house
        face head
        force child
        education member student
        water money word
        area story mother door
        game level minute morning kid door
        eye question education
        health home health
        To prevent your browser from leaking information about your software use NoScript.
        computer Hardware
        8 Cores
        Display: 1913 x 1075 – 24bits/pixel
        Charging: not charging
        Battery Level: 40%
        Time remaining: 0.57h

        Chrome PDF plugins may be a  giveaway. User Smart Agent Switcher seemed to play havoc with Captcha. There was a message in Russian and no image. I needed to disable, and restart Chrome (for me, that means emptying cache, as well). Refreshing AskWoody with extensions off did not seem to refresh the Captcha.

        Moderator Note: Edit to remove HTML. Please use the “Text” tab in the entry box when you copy/paste.

      • #2318186
        Ulti P. Uzer
        AskWoody Lounger

        That is the biggest drawback to the browsers on portable devices, that they don’t allow extensions. Since several yrs ago, on the desktop, when I started running an ad blocker & a pop up blocker on Chrome. I don’t see trash like that anymore. And my surfing is much more secure & much less annoying. The pop up blocker that I run, you can even request to the developers that they make an anti adblock script for a site that is telling you to turn off your adblocker. I have done this before and the developer’s scripts work fantastically. This is great to have if you go to sites that engage in malvertising. When you use a portable browser, you are going on the internet naked & you might as well be using IE6. That is why I have very little use for surfing on a phone or tablet.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2318197
          AskWoody MVP

          Some mobile browsers, like Vivaldi, have ad-blocking built in, so no addons are needed for that. Other things may still be lacking (the last time I used an Android browser, there were plenty of mobile browsers with addons, including Firefox), but at least you have the ads covered. I would not want to pay for the bandwidth to download ads I hate, as not everyone has unlimited mobile plans.

          Do none of them truly have addons anymore?

          When I used Android all those years ago (on a wifi only tablet), I did not find any browser to be any good once Opera Classic became obsolete. All of them stunk on ice, IMO, and I tried them all, every one I could find.  Opera (with Presto 12) was the only one I found that I didn’t hate (I quite liked it), but it got to the point that it seldom finished loading pages, and my search for a suitable replacement ended in frustration.

          Firefox had addons, but its text reflow feature was so bad that they just removed it rather than trying to fix it (this is Mozilla, after all; removing features is in their blood). I find a mobile browser without reflow to be unfit for purpose, and Opera was the only one that got it right. Lots of them tried, and lots of them were bad.

          That tablet was rooted, though, so I used an app that interpreted the various adblocking lists and turned them into an appropriate hosts file to block ads at the network level, and it was quite nice.


          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.5 User Edition)

          2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2318349

        They know what you are running

        False. I use agent string changer since running Windows XP. Just like your site, it should see it as Windows 10. Other sites have to change to Windows 7, 8, Mac, Android phone, Google Bot, etc….Have a whole list which site will work with what agent string….

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