Given the awesome work detailed by Bala from AT&T, and some recent privacy related measures I have been taking in my Firefox browser (see https-everywhere and adblocking fb), I have decided to instruct my browser to stop sending the Referrer Header (nb: incorrectly referred to as the ‘referer header’), when I am clicking around on the web.

The following example shows the Referrer header of the HTTP request telling facebook.com, that I have just been looking at a page about HIV on the NHS choices website.

GET /
Host: www.facebook.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10_6_4; en-gb) AppleWebKit/533.18.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Safari/533.18.5
Accept: application/xml,application/xhtml+xml,text/html;q=0.9,text/plain;q=0.8,image/png,*/*;q=0.5

Referer: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/HIV/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Accept-Language: en-gb
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
Cookie: presence=DJ290173073BchADhA_22112.channelH1L60X...

I followed instructions on the following blog post http://cafe.elharo.com/privacy/privacy-tip-3-block-referer-headers-in-firefox/ to configure my Firefox instance to not send the “referer header”.

In short, the steps needed are as follows:

  • Type about:config into your firefox awesome bar, to bring up your settings
  • find the setting network.http.sendRefererHeader. This is probably set to 2.
  • Choose one of the following values:
    • 0: Completely disables the referer header (mischa’s setting)
    • 1: Sends a referer header when following a link to another page, but not when loading images on the page
    • 2: Always sends the referer header (default)

I am going to experiment with setting it to 0, disabling the referer header all the time, I will post back here to say if it causes me any problems.

2 Comments

  1. Mischa Mischa Author

    Once again, I have been pinged by Toby on freenode, he has let me know how one can remove the “Referer Header” using browsing the web using the Opera browser, details are as follows :

    Preferences > Advanced > Network > Send referrer information

    And untick the box.

    Once again, thanks Toby.

    Mischa

    Reply

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