Do you know about Browser Fingerprint? If you don’t know it’s ok because almost nobody know what is it and what is doing.
Base on wikipedia browser fingerprint is information collected specifically by interaction with the web browser of the device.
It’s incredible accurate method and can be collect information even if persistent cookies can’t be read or stored in the browser.
Browser fingerprint collect data like operating system, web browser version, web browser plugins, language , time zone , screen resolution and more that i will describe in this article.
These data seems to be general at first. However there’s significantly small chance for another user to has the same browser information.
What does this mean? That you are almost unique and you will know you as data.
In the article Mitigating Browser Fingerprinting in Web Specifications from W3C writes that …fingerprinting is also a potential threat to users’ privacy on the Web.
In my article I will try to give you understand what is exactly fingerprint, what impact has in our privacy and how can mitigate.
So let’s start !!
How Browser fingerprint works
Let’s try to explain how browser fingerprint works to be able understand what is going on behind the scenes when you are visit a website.
Do you have watched the TV Series NCIS OR CSI ? These guys in every crime trying to narrow down the results of the criminals for faster investigation.
Let’s say that a criminal stolen a car and the police try to find out and return it to the owner.
Police must ask from the owner all the details or signals of the card. For example the color, manufacture , model name , year of production brand of tires etc.
With these details police will be able to narrow down the results and maybe find the car faster.
Think about now that this scenario take place in a big city with million of cars. Police should has more unique details to be more accurate and narrow down the results.
Wood paneling , any damage that owner knows , any custom logo and other details that the driver maybe know.
These unique details will quickly narrow down more the results and the identification will be done quicker.
Browser fingerprint works almost exactly the same . When a user login in the Web page then lot of unique details capturing from the user browser or device.
Next time that the same user will visit this web page then the fingerprint can be compare with the visit history and will identify the user and any suspicious activity.
What information can be fingerprint techniques collect from your Web Browser? If it’s the first time that read for the browser fingerprint you will be surprised.
Browser fingerprint can collect the following information from your browser
- Browser version
- Browser extensions that has installed
- Hardware properties. Information for the system hardware like
- Properties about Operating system, screen size, screen orientation and display aspect radio
- Browsing history.
- Font metrics.
- Canvas and WebGL. Information about
- graphics driver
- graphics card,
- graphics processing unit
All these information will be generate your fingerprint that will be used for tracking and identification.
Why use it and who use it?
Most of the use of the browser fingerprint is for Web tracking by advertisement companies and big players like Google, Facebook to collect data for every user and create a user profile to personalize the ads in each user.
While any advertisement company collects more data from you without your permission and violate your privacy then knows more for your behavior in the internet. What you prefer, which sites visit more, which is your favorite products, how you pay etc …
When someone knows more for you the it’s easier to manipulate any action or how will be response in every step.
From the other side browser fingerprints use it for security and authentication purposes to identify fraudulent behavior in the sites , protect from the software privacy.
The Browser fingerprint is also used for credit card fraud which is very common these days and has a big impact on any user on the Internet.
Below you can find a list with the most common reasons where browser fingerprint use it.
- For security and authentications purposes
- To identify users with fraudulent behavior
- Identify software piracy
- Credit card fraudulent
- Web Tracking
- Dynamic prices in e-shops and traveling companies
How to test Browser fingerprint
Fortunate, you can find a few sites out there that you can visit and test your browser fingerprint.
At any of these sites you can review your browser fingerprint and how unique your data actual is.
Let’s start and you will understand what I mean.
#Site 1 – Amiunique.org
When you open the https://amiunique.org/ you can click in button View my browser fingerprint.
Wait a few seconds until get the results.
The first thing is to tell you how unique is your data from fingerprint.
Once you scroll down you can see all the attributes that has collect from your web browser
You can download your fingerprint in a json format. You can also get an extension that can be used in Chrome, where you can see your fingerprint through time.
However in the site you can find various Privacy Tools that can improve your Privacy.
#Site 2 – coveryourtracks.eff.org
Another one site that can test your browser fingerprint https://coveryourtracks.eff.org/
The site is a project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation . The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world.
When you open a site click on button Test your Browser.
Wait a few seconds and you will get a results to give you an idea how trackers view your Browser and what data collect.
#Site 3 – Uniquemachine.org
The Uniquemachine is one of the few org sites with a good design. I like it !!
Click on Get my Fingerprint button and wait until get the results. You can’t export the fingerprint results only to view.
Uniquemachine.org has a paper research that you can download as pdf and explain in depth what is the browser fingerprint and how it’s working.
#Site 4 – hidester.com
Hidester.com is not an org site but a company with a VPN product that provide a Tool for Browser Fingerprint.
You can find it from the Tools — Browser Fingerprint from the Menu.
Click on button Test to get the results. It’s not include lot of details like the other site but you can get an idea which data collected from your browser.
How to mitigate browser fingerprint
Before start to explain how can protect your privacy while mitigate the browser fingerprint i would like to inform you that in some case maybe broke some sites functionalities.
It’s not easy to block 100% the browser fingerprint because it’s very complex and many websites rely on the browser fingerprint.
Depending on the privacy you need ,you can use the right tools or configuration to mitigate the browser fingerprint.
Let’s see a few ways that can protect you.
# Secure Browsers
You can find a lot of Secure Browsers that can protect your from browser fingerprint. I know that most of us we are using the Chrome. The most known browser with a good security. But security it’s something different from privacy.
I wrote an article that did a research and find some of the Secure Browsers out there that can use to mitigate browser fingerprint and protect your privacy.
Secure Browsers that can use to mitigate the browser fingerprint or give you the options to configure it how you would like to use are:
- Tor Browser
# Plugins for browsers
Another one good solution that needs something more from the user side is different plugins that you can find to protect your privacy.
For example in amiunique.org you can find a useful list of Privacy tools that can use it.
A short list of know plugins are:
- Canvasblocker for Firefox
- Trace for Firefox
- Canvas Fingerprint Defender for Opera Browser
- uBlock Origin for Chromium, Firefox, Edge, Safari
- WebGL Fingerprint Defender for Chromium, Firefox, Edge, Safari
I would like to inform you that i don’t have use or test all of the above plugins but are the most known that you can find out there.
# Use Privacy Search Engines
A good solution that you can use to mitigate the browser fingerprint is to use a Privacy Search engine instead of Google.
Last years a lot of Private Search Engines developed with scope to protect your privacy. Big players like Google, Facebook collect lot of personal data to create more interesting products that can use or deliver most interesting advertisements for you.
You can read my article for the Private Search Engines that respect your privacy and use instead of Google. Do your research and find your most suitable private search engine for you.
The article include lot of details for the features of every Private Search Engine to know how much privacy can give you each one.
However i will publish a list with some of the Private Search engines here without details that you can download and use it.
#Use a VPN
A good VPN can’t stop browser fingerprint but can encrypt your connect and nobody can see your activity in the Internet.
Meaning that will be anonymous without know your real IP Address and Location.
Use a good VPN to keep your privacy and not free VPN’s or VPN from unknown brand names that might be track your activity and sell it to support the free product. Otherwise it’s a waste of time and useless a VPN that can’t keep you anonymous.
Some of the companies with Antimalware Solutions has products as add on or more features in the Antimalware solutions that can protect your for the browser fingerprint.
To be honest i don’t have try an of the Antimalware product to test but are known out there and you can use it if it’s from a good brand name.
Don’t trust anything if you don’t have hear at least the the company has good brand name.
Some of these companies are:
Why is privacy important
Privacy is a safeguard against prying eyes. Nobody wants to know everywhere what is doing in your life. You must decide what you want to share with the society and what you want to keep private.
Privacy it enables all the factors like autonomy, free thought, creativity, experimentation, and exploration. And through this same buffer, we are afforded discover the type of society we want to be a part of and the steps we need to take to get there.
Today you can’t has the privacy in the Internet and some decide to collect personal data without ask you. This give the advantage for those that has the data to manipulate with different ways because they know everything for you and how you are behave.
Browser fingerprint is very serious threat for the privacy.
But the most worrying is that almost no one knows for this technology which can collect so many data from your entire pc wthout know anything and create your fingerprint.
Can’t be blocked 100% but we can mitigate this technology with different ways.
My question is if the most of the users don’t have hear for the browser fingerprint how can be mitigate?