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I downloaded the new Yandex Alpha browser. When installing, I chose not to make it the default browser and not to send anonymous usage statistics. I never got a prompt whether I wanted to import passwords, history or anything else - these two questions were the only ones I had to answer. I didn't have any version of Yandex browser or Yandex Alpha browser installed before.

Now when I first opened the browser, I came to a page with my most visited webpages, which was imported from Chrome - okay, I'm fine with that, although it would've been nice if they would've asked me whether I wanted that or not. But more importantly I noticed that when I opened a StackExchange site, I was already logged in. The same with Facebook and other sites. How's that possible? Could Yandex Alpha steal the PHPSESSID cookie and is that enough?

My Facebook password has not been saved in any of the browsers I have installed. Also, Facebook is supposed to give me a notification when I log in from an unknown location, which normally also happens if I use another browser. But with Yandex Alpha I did not get such a notification.

Does this point to a security problem? Doesn't this mean that any program can steal my session from my browser and pretend to be me on whatever website?

  • It's look interesting.Have you saved any password for Facebook or other sites in Chrome? – dgn Dec 19 '14 at 12:23
  • @dgn no, not in Chrome and not in any other browser I have installed (FF, IE, Opera, Opera beta). I made a little test with a PHP script starting a session and displaying cookie contents. I opened it first in Chrome, and after I started Yandex Alpha and opened it there. The PHPSESSID cookie had not been copied. But maybe it happens only when you install the browser. – Keelan Dec 19 '14 at 12:37
  • Maybe in this situation wireshark can be helpful. When you reinstall the Yandex Alpha browser, you can capture all traffic for understand the browser requests – dgn Dec 19 '14 at 13:06
  • @dgn good idea, will do that when I get home tonight. – Keelan Dec 19 '14 at 13:08
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    It most likely copied the entire cookie store from Chrome. Nothing to be afraid of assuming you trust the software (which I assume you do since you installed it and gave it near-total control of your machine). – user42178 Dec 19 '14 at 13:31
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Yandex Alpha automatically imports data from several other browsers whilst installing. More docs on it here.

In the case of Chrome it automatically imports:

  • Browsing history
  • Favorites/Bookmarks
  • Saved passwords
  • Search engines
  • Cookies
  • Extensions
  • Advanced settings

As you see in this list it automatically imports your cookie store from Chrome so this definitely explains the fact your sessions could be persisted across to the Yandex Alpha browser.

If you wish to not have the import saved down there should be an option to decline the import after the installation has finished. In your case in doesn't seem to have given that option and any reason I could give on that would be speculation.

In terms of whether its a security risk is down to how much you trust the application to have access to these things and not do anything funny with them.

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