Browsing Fingerprinting

What Is Browsing Fingerprinting and How to Prevent It

Last updated on June 23rd, 2022 at 04:28 am

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If you are a fan of detective programs like CSI, you know the power of fingerprints. A fingerprint can identify anyone as long as the records exist. Whatever you touch will keep your fingerprints for a long time. Before the culprits can get away, the detectives will be knocking on their doors. Whether the speed at which they solve the crimes happens as fast, it does provide for some exciting TV time.

Now think about the same when you are browsing the internet. Every browser you visit will record your presence. Anyone who wants to track your online activity can use fingerprints to find you.

You may not always want to leave your browser fingerprint. For better anonymity, you should prevent it completely. Our article will explain browsing fingerprinting. We will also look at why and how to prevent it.

Browser Fingerprinting; What Is It

There are a lot of processes that go on every time you connect to a browser. Such include the exchange of data from yourself to the remote servers. The information is precise, depending on your browsing patterns.

The websites do collect information for different uses. Browser fingerprinting can give information on:-

  • Version or type of browser you are using
  • Information on your operating system
  • Time zone
  • Language
  • Plugins you have on your machine
  • Screen resolution
  • Any active settings, to name a few.

Now you may be thinking that there is nothing exceptional about this type of data. Yet, some of the attributes may be specific to you as an individual. The chances of you sharing identical characteristics with another are 1 out of 286,777

Once the different browsers have your information, you become an easy target. A target for advertisers, hackers, and anyone else who wants access to you.

Exploring the Impact of Browser Fingerprinting

You may wonder why you seem to be a target for specific advertising. Browser fingerprinting may be to blame. Advertising and marketing companies have found such information useful. It is critical for audience segmentation. Marketing companies will spend some good money to buy such data.

Browser fingerprinting also has a critical role in tracking hackers. Cybercriminals will use different devices to avoid exposure. By studying their online activity, it can raise enough suspicion to warrant investigation.

Browser fingerprinting works even when you turn off the cookies.

So Why Should You Care About Browser Fingerprinting

Browser fingerprinting will not concern you if you do not care about your online privacy. But the reverse is true for many people. Few would be comfortable with tracking and storing information by third parties.

There is something very intrusive about someone mining your data without your permission. It also brings to mind the aspect of online security and loss of control.

How to Get Back Control by Preventing Browser Fingerprinting 

It is possible to prevent browser fingerprinting. It gives you back some control over your data. You also enjoy privacy and anonymity while online. Let’s look at some methods you can use, 

Install a Proxy Server

Installing a proxy server will help you mask your IP address. The proxy acts as a middleman. Think of it as a gateway where data has to go through. It receives information, sieves it, and forwards it to the remote server. It can also hide your IP address by:

  • Distorting Your IP address so that it shows the incorrect one to the remote server
  • Shielding your IP address if you’ll be using a SOCKS proxy, for example
  • Not sharing your IP address like in the case of anonymous proxies
  • Keeping your IP address secret like in the case of high anonymity proxies

The proxy allows you to hide your location. The browser fingerprinting will not be able to pinpoint where you are. You also get protection from malicious websites, surveillance, and hackers.

Avoid Operational Security Risks

  • You may be making it easier for the website to fingerprint your activities online. Avoid mixing private and public internet use. You should do the following:
  • Separate your private and public internet activities.
  • Guard against WebTRC or DNS requests using anonymity tools like proxies or VPNs.
  • Have different servers for private and public activities.
  • Think about your passwords and have different ones for different accounts. You do not want to leave breadcrumbs all over the internet.

Update Your Software

Software updates are essential because you get the latest security features. Antivirus and anti-malware, for example, need to be up-to-date all the time. If not, you leave yourself open to malware and cyber-attacks.

You May Have To Let Go Of Some Aspects of Javascript

JavaScript provides an avenue through which websites detect different functionalities. The sites get to know what fonts or plugins you are using. Disabling JavaScript can impact some functionalities on your website. You have some options to:-

Disable JavaScript and only put it on the site where you need to use it. But, learn to determine what functionalities you will lose by disabling JavaScript.

You also have the option of tools like Tor if you want to increase your privacy. It is handy if you want to block JavaScript.

Use the tools available to block ads to your site. Do note; it may not prevent the fingerprinting because some use an invisible script.

Go Private When Online

You have the option of using private or incognito mode online. Think about it much like you would if you block your number from showing when you make a call. You get to protect some of your data so that others cannot share it.

Final Thoughts

Browser fingerprinting may expose you to cybercriminals. These people may want to use your information for other purposes. While it is not all negative, you could be exposing yourself.

Use some of the methods we have highlighted above to prevent browser fingerprinting. You will also find tools online that can help you know your level of exposure. Installing a proxy will hide your IP address, thus giving you anonymity and privacy.