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Situation:

Let’s say, I am about to develop a website based on known means of its creation, which would be the luggage of HTML + JS/TS/PHP + CSS wrapped in some framework, e.g. Angular, React, Laravel, or whatever. For completeness let’s add that there would be a backend with some Spring Boot/.NET + DB and it is hosted on a small Linux Server in DigitalOcean.

There would be nothing special about that website – user authentication, few inputs, form submissions, few images, and text blocks, the possibility to export/save some table information, video playback, etc.

Web browsers cache the contents of the pages we browse through, and record the navigation history, inputs, cookies, etc., producing artifacts from our browsing activity (considering non-privacy/incognito mode). And there are guys (computer forensic investigators) with tools like Autopsy, FTK, Regshot, Volatility, X-Ways-Forensics, etc., who could fetch these artifacts from my PC and use them in the court (in case I would be detained and my PC confiscated).

Question:

Yes, it is evident that the browser itself is in charge of artifacts and users can choose privacy-enhanced browsers with the strictest privacy settings, but still, from a web developers perspective is there anything that I could enhance down on my side to help a bit in possible reduction of browser artifacts (in any state of the browser – live or post-mortem)?

Discussion:

For example, I could avoid using HTML5 Storage objects, that still persist in browser memory even long after my website tab is closed. I sense that there is also a notion of compromise. Favicons are classified as a browser artifact and Chrome even saves them in a separate SQLite DB file. Would I be OK with removing the favicon from my webpage and replacing them with “ugly nothing”? Would I be OK with avoiding image content? Yes, the “price” may be high, and maybe one’s opinion would be to better let web browsers handle these things and pass this effort to the user and his conscience.

I would say I am in search of information/academia where this perspective is discussed or even examined. If the reader of this question knows some sources - I would be thankful for the reference.

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You can have cache policies for the content which make the browser cache less content local on the computer - which might affect performance. You can also not use any cookies, local storage etc to reduce the amount of information stored.

You cannot fiddle with the browsers history though in that the browser forgets that it has visited the site and when. But this browser history will be an important starting point for forensic analysis.

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