Private Web Search

Authors: F. Saint-Jean, A. Johnson, D. Boneh, and J. Feigenbaum

Web search is currently a source of growing concern about personal privacy. It is an essential and central part of most users’ activity online and therefore one through which a significant amount of personal information may be revealed. To help users protect their privacy, we have designed and implemented Private Web Search (PWS), a usable client-side tool that minimizes the information that users reveal to a search engine. Our tool protects users against attacks that involve active components and timing information, to which more general Web-browsing privacy tools (including the combination of FoxTor and Privoxy) are vulnerable. PWS is a Firefox plugin that functions as an HTTP proxy and as a client for the Tor anonymity network. It configures Firefox so that search queries executed from the PWS search box are routed through the HTTP proxy and Tor client, filtering potentially sensitive or identifying components of the request and response.

In proceedings of the 6th ACM Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society (WPES) 2007

Full paper: pdf