Google sniffs user-agent when you log in; reacts when it changes

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Walter Dnes
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Google sniffs user-agent when you log in; reacts when it changes

Unread postby Walter Dnes » Tue, 19 Dec 2017, 03:19

As near as I can tell, Google sniffs your browser's user agent when you log in to gmail or Google Drive or Youtube, or any other Google property. Recently Google Drive was whining about my browser being too old, and Google Maps was running in Lite Mode "because my browser was too old". So I updated the user.js file in my profile to include
user_pref("general.useragent.override.google.com", "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64; rv:57.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/57.0"); (I run linux, but let's make things difficult for malicious sites). Anyhow Google Drive and maps.google.com were happy with the browser. But since the useragent had changed, Google Drive asked me for the recovery email when I logged in to Google Drive. And it also sent a cautionary email to me. Just a heads up, in case people get scared. When ever you change your useragent and log in, Google assumes the login is coming from a different device. Here's a redacted version of the email...

Code: Select all

Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2017 00:00:09 +0000 (UTC)
Message-ID: <deleted>
Subject: Security alert for your linked Google Account
From: Google <no-reply@accounts.google.com>
To: <deleted>

FirstName LastName


Your account <deleted>@<deleted> is listed as the recovery email for
<deleted>@gmail.com. Don't recognize this account? click here
<deleted>
.


New sign-in to your linked account
<deleted>@gmail.com
Your Google Account was just signed in to from a new Windows device. You're
getting this email to make sure it was you.



CHECK ACTIVITY
<deleted>

You received this email to let you know about important changes to your
Google Account and services.
© 2017 Google Inc.,1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA
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Re: Google sniffs user-agent when you log in; reacts when it changes

Unread postby Moonchild » Tue, 19 Dec 2017, 08:15

It's a "security feature": they will send you a notification that "a new browser or device was used to log into your account". The fact that they use easily-spoofable detection methods just illustrates why I put "security" in quotes.
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Re: Google sniffs user-agent when you log in; reacts when it changes

Unread postby TwoTankAmin » Tue, 19 Dec 2017, 15:51

I don't have that problem on Google because I have no account with them. But I see the same thing from a financial institution or two. When I see that message pop up about my browser here is what I see it saying.

You are not using a browser that allows us to spy on you and to further monetize you. This is preventing us from putting our hands into your pockets and this makes us feel insecure. We want your browser to make us feel more secure. Please use anyone of the following pieces of spyware to access this site even thought your current browser works just fine here. Making the switch will increase security because we are more secure about being able to take advantage of you.

How many sites where we see this sort of browser warning also are still using Flash on their site?

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Re: Google sniffs user-agent when you log in; reacts when it changes

Unread postby Moonchild » Tue, 19 Dec 2017, 17:19

TwoTankAmin wrote:My dream is that one day Moonchild builds an OS so we do not need Windows or Linux.


Human cloning needs to happen before that will happen :) It's too much work for just little old me.
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Re: Google sniffs user-agent when you log in; reacts when it changes

Unread postby Isengrim » Tue, 19 Dec 2017, 17:49

I've noticed that this same feature kicks in every time I try to access my email with a non-Gmail client on Android over a cell network. It pretty much blocks me from my mail until I either go to a network it recognizes or log in with a web browser and verify the attempt. It's quite annoying, and as far as I can tell there is no way to turn it off.

The problem is a) Gmail is such a huge target for account theft, and b) Google really, really, really wants you to use their "approved" Gmail client.
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Re: Google sniffs user-agent when you log in; reacts when it changes

Unread postby Moonchild » Tue, 19 Dec 2017, 18:04

Nobody forces you to use gmail.
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Re: Google sniffs user-agent when you log in; reacts when it changes

Unread postby Moonraker » Tue, 19 Dec 2017, 20:46

My dream is that one day Moonchild builds an OS so we do not need Windows or Linux.


i use linux so what in your opinion is the problem with linux.~?
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Re: Google sniffs user-agent when you log in; reacts when it changes

Unread postby Walter Dnes » Tue, 19 Dec 2017, 22:05

Moonraker wrote:
My dream is that one day Moonchild builds an OS so we do not need Windows or Linux.


i use linux so what in your opinion is the problem with linux.~?

I had no problem with GUN-Linu-x. It's GNOME-Lenna-x that annoys me. I remember a time when people would switch to the current version of Linux, because their computers were too underpowered to support the current version of Windows. Not so much nowadays.

I run Gentoo linux at home, and use a couple of gtk apps, Gnumeric and Abiword. People keep telling me that "gtk+" does NOT stand for "Gnome Tool Kit", but... Gnumeric+Abiword now pull in (directly+indirectly) atk, harfbuzz, ghostscript, etc, etc. Gtk+ v3has a hard-coded dependancy on some dbus libs. I wouldn't be surprised if Gtk+ v4 depends on systemd and pulseaudio. Too bad I'm not a developer. I'd love to replace GTK with FLTK http://www.fltk.org/index.php in Pale Moon's innards before GTK v2 is deprecated. FLTK is lightweight enough that it could be statically linked in, thus avoiding external dependancies for users.
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Re: Google sniffs user-agent when you log in; reacts when it changes

Unread postby Moonchild » Wed, 20 Dec 2017, 08:49

If you want to discuss the linux-y stuff further, please make a new thread in the technical chat board.
Improving Mozilla code: You know you're on the right track with code changes when you spend the majority of your time deleting code.

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