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Google Has a Fix for WebRTC VPN-related Privacy Issue

August 7, 2015 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Peter Bernstein / WebRTC Solutions

It is always nice to report some good news and this is one of those instances. For those of you who may remember, a few weeks ago there was a major uproar about the revelation that the New York Times site could leverage WebRTC to track the private IP address of visitors without their permission. That obviously got more than a few people upset when it became public--despite the fact that as far back as February of this year this was uncovered by security researchers as an issue.

Just as a refresh, the problem from a technical perspective is that when WebRTC was used on a website in combination with a STUN server it became possible to reveal those private IP addresses from people coming to the website using a VPN connection. In short, so much for privacy!

As mentioned, there is good news to report since this has been a bit of a rolling thunder operation as multiple browsers were involved leading up to Google taking care of the problem in Chrome. Thanks to the good folks at it can be documented that the fixes are in. They include:

  • Firefox told users that putting "media.peerconnection.enabled" to "false" in their "about:config" page would help.
  • For Chrome users, provided an extension to disable WebRTC support in the browser.
  • Rentamob also published a Chrome extension that tried to fix the issue without disabling WebRTC completely, but according to TorrentFreak, this caused some WebRTC functions like VoIP not to work correctly.

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