The commonly known definition of a fingerprint is the impression of fingerprints on the fingertips. But how to recognize the fingerprints of cybercriminals who do not reveal their fingerprints because their tool is a computer/laptop? Is it possible to cover up the traces left in the web effectively?
It turns out that there are digital fingerprints – this is what a fingerprint is called. This is a set of device-specific data downloaded, for example, from the browser (the so-called browser fingerprint) that allows the user to be identified when visiting the page again. According to his assumptions, fingerprinting is a bit like cookies, although it is a more advanced solution. Importantly, the user cannot delete this data themselves, at least indirectly. Specially prepared algorithms for removing fingerprints “ask questions” of a given device and collect information from the browser, operating system and even individual programs. If you frequently use a laptop, PC, or smartphone, it may be more difficult to uniquely identify your device with your fingerprint. However, the more unique add-ons, fonts, and customizations you have, the easier it will be for you to find. Companies can use this unique combination of information to create your fingerprint. That’s why Firefox blocks known fingerprints, so you can still use your favorite extensions, themes, and customizations without ads.
Fingerprinting makes it possible to create a unique user face due to a set of user parameters (browser and operating system version, IP address and many other parameters). Fingerprinting has a 32-bit hexadecimal number of the type b2cf59b36581399ebf54d4ab425ac4a7 obtained by processing all data received from the browser. The resulting browser fingerprint allows you to track users on the Internet with an accuracy of up to 94%. By analyzing actions and devices on the Internet, websites may use the received information for commercial purposes. For example, create and display a personal advertisingor mailings.
The list of data points that can be used to refine your profile is very long, and you’d be surprised how accurate fingerprinting algorithms are, and this is only a small part of what the browser collects about you:
We must not forget thatFingerprinting is not “evil”, this technique is also used for security purposes.
For example, the company that handles your credit card or some social media is more likely to take your fingerprint every time you log in to make sure it’s you. You’ve probably seen a warning when logging in from an unfamiliar location or another device.
Browser fingerprints are used to prevent fraud and identity theft. The Internet user unknowingly provides information about himself, without any consent. As the volume of collected data increases, a profile of a person is created, which may include (gender, age, marital status, financial status, interests, habits, etc.).
It would seem that this information is only superficial, without reference to a specific person. But this is only for a certain time, it is enough for a person to provide real personal information such as name, phone number, address, fingerprint registered with a digital device, which will allow companies to fully identify you and thus complete a profile.
Many companies are interested in collecting, owning and knowing as much information as possible about their users. By analyzing our online activities and devices, websites can use the information obtained for commercial purposes – to create and display personalized ads.
Fingerprinting is also applicable for internal analysis, so user actions (viewed pages, clicks, mouse movements, etc.) allow developers to receive tacit feedback, see that the user is paying attention first and adapt their web platforms for maximum response.
Threat to privacy is the main reason why the user should be on guard. Fingerprints are much more insidious than cookies. It is more difficult to protect against them, it is impossible to find out whether the user is being followed.
The system marks your computer with a special numerical tag in the form of a hash sum based on a special algorithm from your settings, and users cannot even guess its existence. It then simply compares the customer against its database of tags and uniquely identifies the customer when there is a match.
Browser fingerprintsmake its owner recognizable not only on frequently visited resources, but also in other electronic sources.
Fingerprints capture the entire picture that the resource receives from the browser, which allows the client to be identified even when the settings are changed.
Many sites use so-called Flash LSO super cookies, which can restore normal cookies if the client deletes them. A browser fingerprint can not only recover the entire cookie library, but also calculate the user’s basic network data. This will make the process of cleaning the system from cookies useless – the site still knows you.
Cookies may not even be needed to identify browser fingerprints. Even by blocking all potentially malicious operations, the user cannot be sure that his fingerprints will not be detected by his PC.
If you want to know what the browser knows about you and how you can be tracked, then for this we need a site that will show you all this.
Am I Unique ( https://amiunique.org/ ) immediately tests your browser and shows you exactly what you are.
How does it work? The question is very simple. You need to go to the site and click the button“View my browser fingerprint».
If you do not use any means of anonymization, then in the detailed report, you will most likely see that you are being tracked by drawing system fonts, the presence of an ad blocker, and even by the model of your video card.
Even if you try to access Am I Unique throughTor, which hides or completely fakes these parameters, it turns out that tracking is theoretically possible.
This is the hidden essence of fingerprint, it is almost impossible to defend against it. But there is still a way out.
Сhrome – nice browser, but the truly paranoid should stay away from it. Google has never hidden that it collects and analyzes information about users. He does not suit us.
Firefox – has a tracker blocker, but it’s off by default. To activate it, you need to open the hidden settings about:config and enable the property privacy.trackingprotection.enabled.
Firefox tracker blocker borrows the blacklist from Disconnect,a popular tracker blocker that exists as a browser add-on and program for all popular platforms.
Using dedics (from the word dedicated server) is still considered one of the most effective ways to maintain your anonymity. Is a separate physical machine from which no data is transferred to your main and worker machine.
The main reason for the popularity and effectiveness of this method is that such a virtual computer is completely new and clean for the Internet, works around the clock and does not transmit any information about the end user and the characteristics of his computer.
Manual changes will help make your digital footprint less unique:
Anti-detection browsers – the same browser as Google Chrome, Firefox or Opera. The main difference is that such programs replace the user’s fingerprint, imitating the activity of another person.
A characteristic feature of each anti-detection browser is the ability to create separate accounts for each tab. Cache, cookies, time zones, fingerprints, proxies, and other user information are individual for each window.
However, everything we mentioned about browser protection is only a small part, you will still be found. The cyber society invented browser fingerprinting to preserve online privacy. Although on the one hand this technology protects us from fraudsters, on the other hand it also helps them.