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Your online video viewing habits can be tracked!

Gaps in YouTube`s encryption enable both government intelligence agencies, hackers and internet marketers to determine which videos a user is watching, said the researchers.

IANS| Updated: Mar 16, 2017, 15:34 PM IST
Your online video viewing habits can be tracked!

London: If you thought what you watch on YouTube is no one`s business, you could not be further detached from reality. Researchers have found that your online video viewing habits can be tracked.

Gaps in YouTube`s encryption enable both government intelligence agencies, hackers and internet marketers to determine which videos a user is watching, said the researchers.

"We built a simple yet robust machine-learning algorithm that can identify which video you watched -- within a predetermined set of videos -- with a high degree of accuracy," said one of the researchers Ran Dubin from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel.

"The algorithm is based on an in-depth study of how video services work, how video content is encoded and how a video player requests information to play it," Dubin said.

Dubin was able to use this algorithm to determine if someone had watched a specific video from a set of suspicious, terror-related videos.

Intelligence agencies could access this technology for tracking terrorists or other suspicious individuals.

Internet marketing companies could track the number and make-up of viewers watching an ad, according to the research presented at the Black Hat Europe meeting in London.

"It`s important to know that video encryption is not as secure as we once thought," Dubin said

"Google, YouTube`s parent company, is not likely to patch the gaps, since it would be prohibitively expensive to create a traffic obfuscation mechanism for every user`s every video request," he added.