A user agent is a computer program representing a person, for example, a browser in a Web context.
Besides a browser, a user agent could be a bot scraping webpages, a download manager, or another app accessing the Web. Along with each request they make to the server, browsers include a self-identifying User-Agent HTTP header called a user agent (UA) string. This string often identifies the browser, its version number, and its host operating system.
Spam bots, download managers, and some browsers often send a fake UA string to announce themselves as a different client. This is known as user agent spoofing.
A typical user agent string looks like this: "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Ubuntu; Linux x86_64; rv:35.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/35.0".
Browser Fingerprinting is the process of gathering data that can be used to identify an individual Internet user. While it may not allow someone to identify a user by name, it can still be a highly profitable, and privacy destroying technique.
When her parents aren’t home, she uses the family computer and visits a site for kids who are in trouble and are looking for advice. What is Browser Fingerprinting Jane is careful to use the web browser’s Incognito Mode while visiting this site, makes sure not to download anything from the site, and deletes all the cookies on the computer after she uses it.
She thinks she is safe from being tracked and goes back to the same discussion area the next day to see if she got any responses to her questions. Unfortunately for Jane, the website uses an ad agency that practices Browser Fingerprinting.
Day 3 : Jane’s mom logs into the craft supply store website. The ad agency software notices a computer with the same fingerprint as one that logged in a few times recently and was looking for information related to being underage and pregnant.
Cookies are small text files that a website can store on your computer to record information and retrieve it later. Even if a website tries to hide their cookies by giving them names that aren’t obvious, you are ultimately in control.
Here is a list of some characteristics that your browser can send to the website and can be used to identify your computer: “Canvas fingerprinting works by exploiting the HTML5 canvas element: when a user visits a website their browser is instructed to “draw” a hidden line of text or 3D graphic that is then rendered into a single digital token, a potentially unique identifier to track users without any actual identifier persistence on the machine.
In short, it is another tool to gather data about your system that nosy websites can use to identify you without storing anything on your computer for you to block or delete. These are good guys in that they aim to help you learn about your system and Browser Fingerprinting, rather than spy on you.
And keep in mind that the people who are doing Browser Fingerprinting for profit are surely using more sophisticated techniques than these sites. Panopticlick is a research project that was started by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in 2010.
They use a few of the older Browser Fingerprinting techniques to gather data about your system when you hit the big orange Test Me button on the Panopticlick home page. The basic tests are conducted with their own tools, and they only retain anonymized data about the results, as described on the Privacy page.
Enabling this test shouldn’t be a problem, but if you are concerned, feel free to disable it. Because my browser has a nearly-unique fingerprint among those that Panopticlick has collected, it is highly likely that a website would be able to identify me uniquely.
Based in Europe, this site does more than show you how well your browser resists fingerprinting. Hit the View my browser fingerprint button, and get ready for a flood of detailed information.
Unique Homepage In my case, the first screenful of results looked like this (it takes a while to scroll through all the information): Unique ResultsKeeping in mind that the less unique your Browser Fingerprint is, the better, we can learn a lot from looking at this page, without having to get deep into the technical gibberish.
We can see that the browser I am using (Google Chrome) and the language I have chosen to work in (EN, for English) are both listed in a large percentage of the site’s 130,000+ stored fingerprints. Before getting into steps you can take to protect yourself against Browser Fingerprinting, we should talk about some relevant legal activity that took place in the EU in 2018.
Any organization gathering personal data needs to be able to prove that it is doing so in compliance with one of the six legally acceptable reasons described in the GDPR. Theoretically, any site complying with the GDPR requirements will be prevented from using Browser Fingerprinting to spy on you the way it does now.
Sites that had no qualms about using Fingerprinting to spy on you in the first place may not bother to comply with the GDPR. So sites that don’t have a deal with Europe can continue to fingerprint without worrying about the law.
The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has a great article with lots more details on how GDPR should make it harder for websites to use Browser Fingerprinting against you. As a result, unless a site is also using some kind of malware to gather additional information, your anti-virus/malware app has nothing to watch out for and nothing to block.
Will my Antivirus Protect me? Your VPN will hide your IP Address from the world, which helps a little. As with using a VPN, Incognito Modes only affect some characteristics used to create a Browser Fingerprint.
Note that in all the examples in this section, we used Panopticlick to see how well the browser was protected from fingerprinting. Also, keep in mind that these results are not a comprehensive study of the full range of Internet users.
Still, with odds of over 108,000 to 1 against mistaking your browser for theirs, you are pretty darn close to unique. Unfortunately, there isn’t a configuration setting we can change to eliminate Browser Fingerprinting.
All we have right now is a set of things we can do to decrease the uniqueness of our Browser Fingerprints and block at least some companies that are likely to use this technique to spy on us. While Chrome has by far the biggest market share, Firefox is increasingly popular with privacy-minded individuals.
Brave uses a multitude of methods to protect users privacy, such as blocking cross-site trackers, scripts, cross-site cookies, and upgrading connections to HTTPS. This makes it a lot harder for ad networks to track you based on your IP address alone, and is a handy feature for those looking for an extra bit of privacy.
We also recommend using a VPN whenever possible, although it won’t completely negate browser foot printing, it does offer good basic identity protection from ISP snooping etc. Especially if you want to be downloading torrents, playing in online casinos, crypto exchanges etc when you are based in jurisdictions that do not allow that.
Blot is a leading independent privacy resource that maintains the highest possible professional and ethical journalistic standards. A fingerprint helps uniquely identify users, for example, by using their computer's IP address.
On the Administrator Panel, under Security, select Session Fingerprint Settings. To view the contents of the log, on the Administrator Panel, under Tools and Utilities, select Logs. Fingerprint ValueChoose which values to include in the session fingerprint: IP address, User agent, or both.
To minimize multiple login prompts, it is recommended to use the IP address only, since changes to the IP address should be less frequent than changes to the Sergeant. Customize the IP ranges by modifying the bb-session-fingerprint-excluded-addresses.txt configuration file. Create New Session When Fingerprint ChangesSelect Yes to force a new session to be created when a user's fingerprint changes.
However, if any false positives occur (as mentioned above in the Fingerprint value section), the user will have to log in again. A login prompt will appear when the multiple file applet loads when you set “Create new session when fingerprint changes” to Yes.
Fingerprint or sometimes footprint is a digital representation of a user ’s device consisting of information about your operating system, settings, active browsers, installed plug-ins, etc. If you use proxies to increase your browsing anonymity, you need to match your proxy-related parameters with the current fingerprint attributes.
In this article, we will cover some of the most useful practices shedding some light on the type of ‘fingerprints’ that your browser leaves on the web and ways to successfully increase your anonymity. The way fingerprinting works is through collecting information on your system that increases its ‘entropy’ (i.e. uniqueness), so it becomes easily identifiable by the website.
The fingerprints your browser and computer leave on a website reveal a surprising amount of information about the user. It includes a whole number of parameters ranging from the browser user agent, operating system version and browsing history to screen resolution, WebGL renderer, device IDs, network IPs, WebRTC and even battery info.
Modern fingerprint trackers will collect and analyze information from different browsers using the same hardware and easily identify the end- user. In the section below we describe all features of your system that leave fingerprints tracing back to your software and hardware settings.
All cookies, including ever cookies, can be easily cleared or blocked through a set of easy actions. From the perspective of fingerprinting, standard cookies can be easily deleted from the system once you set your browser into the ‘incognito’ mode.
An item of local storage is visible across all tabs of all windows and persists even after the browser is closed. When you visit a website a special fingerprinting script draws a sample text with font and size of choice and adds a background.
Then the script reads the rendered image data back to compare pixel precision. WebGL works in a way similar to Canvas but renders interactive 3D objects in the browser without the use of plugins.
The website may gain info on your graphics card vendor and model. This indirectly leaks the operating system as Windows or macOS.
The WebRTC (or web real-time communication) nodes are used for collecting info on IP addresses for providing the best routes between two peers in the network. If you use browserleaks.com to test your system, you will be able to see your network IP and below the WebRTC detecting the Ethernet address in your office, along with device IDs.
Below we have listed all common ways to overcome the problem of digital fingerprinting to ensure anonymous browsing. However, proxies on their own, do not protect against multiple trackers and don’t affect the cookies already in your system.
In most cases disabling WebRTC will not affect the website behavior and will not block you. In Chrome this can be performed by typing chrome://flags and going over the list and disabling: Accelerated 2D canvas, Composited render layer borders, Tint GL-composited content, Enable draw occlusion, all options mentioning WebRTC.
We currently maintain a no-frills policy that lets us offer you proxies at the most affordable rates in the market. If you’ve ever looked into protecting your privacy online, you may have heard a thing or two about browser fingerprinting.
Before I started researching this subject, I’d actually stumbled upon the term a few times while working on finding privacy extensions. A lot of the time this information adds up to the point where there are very few other people out in the wild configuring exactly who you are, making it easier for third parties to track you.
The Tor browser, which we’ve covered before, remains the most powerful application there is for securing and protecting user privacy. In addition, poor privacy practices on Tor can undermine its effectiveness, resulting in you being fingerprinted or tracked anyways.
Perhaps one day every browser will value security and privacy like Tor does with little to no cost to user experience. Christopher Harper'm a longtime gamer, computer nerd and general tech enthusiast.
Similar to your Social Security number, your smartphone has a unique fingerprint that sticks with your device and thus can be used to track your movements across websites and apps. Once the largest data brokers know which person is attached to which device, they can build eerily accurate profiles about you.
Marketing and advertisement techniques have been revamped in today’s digital era. The question under discussion today is how marketing and advertising agencies target people on digital platforms.
However, as electronic devices have shrunk in size, from desktop computers to laptops and now smartphones and tablets, the method of online targeting has changed. Device fingerprinting involves two main things, both of which are present in a smartphone or tablet.
The other is a web browser used to visit different websites, such as Chrome, Firefox, or Opera. The information acquired by web browsers when they are being used includes language preference and IP address.
Many users disable cookies which prevents websites to monitor their information. They can easily be disabled, but this isn’t the case for device fingerprinting.
This means that cookies fall short of serving an advertising company’s purpose. If the necessary measures are taken, one can control device fingerprinting to a great extent.
Each browser update comes with better security and lowers the chances becoming the target for device fingerprinting. So, it’s important to understand the trade-off between a seamless browsing experience and the probability of being tracked online.
As the name depicts, a VPN creates a virtual IP address for a device and effectively hides a user ’s information. Once again, this helps disguise real information better as there are more potential servers to connect with.
That way, when you’re using your device to browser on the Internet, you’ll have another layer of protection. That would Reset your device fingerprint and tracking would have to start fresh.
Unfortunately, no matter how many internet users try, device fingerprinting can't be stopped. However, taking strict measures can minimize the chances of device fingerprinting.
According to RTL Design, in 2018, Salesforce spent US$10.8 Billion on Marketing. If you know where it was spent, the ideal goal is that you can measure how much revenue it generated.
Security can also use fingerprint information to be able to spot “out of place” interactions. This idea of exception reporting in security helps to identify people and transactions which do not belong.
So the answer is that browser fingerprints can provide marketing and security information at the same time. Even for a traditional piece of post, you need a return address.
For a server to send back a web page to you, it needs your IP address. Mankind provide a public and private commercially licensed list of IP addresses and which country they come from.
Whilst far from precise you can get a very good idea of where your web visitors are coming from. Using this information, you can then start identifying if your spend is working in that country.
For security part of a user browser fingerprints lets your team sense check where connections are coming from. When a browser requests a web page, it presents some information about itself.
This string of letters numbers and punctuation, allows the receiving server deal with the request in different ways. Also, for presentation on a mobile device requires different image sizes and layouts than for users on a desktop.
Browser Fingerprints provides metrics as to how and where people are coming from. Security will consider if that the CFO always uses his mobile and then suddenly swaps to a desktop something might be up.
Firstly for this a database / list file called brows cap is available. Also, handily updated regularly to include new browser versions.
If you want a very flash HTML 5, CSS 3, 3D presentation of your products which works fine on Chrome, but doesn’t work at all in Internet Explorer, you need to know what percentage of users you are occluding by this approach. All this data is gathered in less than a millisecond about this visitor to our online service.
This unique id is sent back to the browser as part of the webpage sitting quietly in the background code of the page. Furthermore, being cheeky, we can ask for the specific latitude and longitude of the device if the user doesn’t mind agreeing.
If a service can link your request to your account and personal information then it becomes even more “rich” in terms of categorization. In IT terms it's often better to have the data and be able to delete it, than be in the position of needing it and then realizing you don’t have it.
The data isn’t 100% precise but it does provide a good broad picture. More often than not people don’t mess / tinker with the default settings.
So this allows service providers get a good broad sense of the details of those visiting. Think of the person with the baseball cap in the shop avoiding cameras, can often draw more attention.
Transferring the contents takes place via IP packets, which contain information on the client (in addition to the user data), and which can be used on the server side to determine the browser fingerprints. In some cases, the HTTP header also provides information about the operating system and the source page used.
As mentioned previously, the browser fingerprint is used to identify a user in order to be able to recognize them later on. By doing this, it is then possible to observe their surfing behavior in order to gain insights into the functionality and usability of a web project or to provide personalized content.
The method connects several devices to the internet under a common, public IP address, which is shared by many users. It is used, for example, by routers that unite private households in a LAN, but also by providers that control technology, in particular, the mobile radio sector.
It remains to be seen whether the successor protocol IPv6 solves this problem in the coming years by using dynamic addresses and NAT in the future. The TCP ports that a client uses to communicate with the server are just as unsuitable as a device’s recognition feature.
In addition to the ability to contain custom entries, several standardized fields are required, some of which are very important when creating the browser fingerprint. In addition to the name and version number, the HTTP header also provides space for a comment, in which many browsers list the underlying platform or the operating system.
'Accept': using the accept field, the browser tells the server which content types it can process and therefore which output formats it prefers. 'Accept-Charset': in addition to the output format, the client can also define the desired character set to be used by the server in its response.
Navigator.aversion: informs the server about the version of the browser and, in some cases, the operating system or even the type of the processor. The sergeant property does not differ from the HTTP header information and provides values such as the name, version, and browser platform in the summary.
For this purpose, the width of the interface features, such as the Windows Taskbar, is subtracted from the total value Screen.colorDepth: the colorDepth property tells the web server the color depth (bits per pixel) that is available to the user for displaying images.
The Stylesheet language makes it possible to create website elements that automatically take on the visitor’s system color settings. Internet browsers have been designed primarily for displaying simple HTML documents, including individual images.
Over the course of time, however, the demands on client programs have increased due to web projects becoming more complex: interactive elements have also become established in addition to media formats, such as audio and video files. In order for the browsers to be able to play back different content, the developers had to extend the functionality of the applications.
Even though HTML5 is now a serious and safer alternative for providing and playing video content, the plugin is still installed on various browsers. The exceptions are the most standard browsers on mobile devices, which do not offer a corresponding extension.
As mentioned previously, the first part of the script attempts to use an ActiveX object to verify Microsoft Silver light. The collection is the basis for the 'isVersionSupported' function, which returns either the value 'true' or 'false', depending on whether the verified client supports it or not.
Conclusions on the preferences and interests of the client user e.g. based on party fonts, logos, or topic-specific character sets The short list shows that fonts like these are not only useful for specifying fingerprints but can also be useful for creating targeted advertising campaigns.
There are various web tools such as Unique or Panopticklick, which enable you to test how the uniqueness of your browser fingerprint with just one click. The service provider (INSA Rennes Engineering School) has revealed that it only collects anonymous data and saves a cookie in the browser that is valid for four months.
In addition to revealing whether your site is unique, Unique also provides comparisons to other browsers that have been tested. The values shown here are not the only data that the web tool checks and which can be incorporated into the browser fingerprint.
It isn’t possible to completely prevent the digital fingerprint of your internet browser from being found out. In the case of passive fingerprinting, the web server operator receives the characteristics automatically transferred in the HTTP header.
This subtype of browser fingerprinting attempts to track the client through the use of canvas elements. The fact is that the rendering of texts in these elements varies greatly depending on the operating system, browser, graphics card, drivers, and fonts.
However, if you activate plugins like these, you have to expect some web services or at least some individual content to stop working. While extensions, content, or sites can be added to filter lists to suspend script blocking, this isn’t very helpful if you aren’t sure whether the provider is trustworthy or not.
Apart from the script blocking solution, you basically only have one other option, which is to avoid individualizing systems and browsers. If you forgo the additional extensions for your client, there’s a high chance that you won’t create a unique fingerprint and will be harder to track.
Browsers don’t behave the same way when presented with the same webpage: some elements could be rendered improperly or positioned at the wrong location. Now the web is a platform full of features, that allow to listen to music, watch videos and so on, and can also use a very wide variety of devices from tablets, smartphones or laptops.
But even so, many of those Chrome on Windows browsers can be distinguished from one another by the enormous range of plugin versions and fonts that can be installed with them, so some other protection methods need to be used Tracking or fingerprinting scripts are generally invisible, so even if users enable features that focus on privacy, some trackers may still slip past the net.
The underlying fact is that both forensic fingerprinting and browser fingerprinting is not capable of showing the real identity of a person but are sure to reveal that a specific person performed certain similar activities. The traditional way of finding out online identity was through surveillance of IP addresses.
The acquired IP address is shared among a large pool of users hence effectively maintaining online anonymity. However, as with the shifting developments of technology; privacy penetrators noted that it was possible to track other information from a user ’s browser apart from the IP address that had the potential to create identity leads.
Browser fingerprinting identifies someone’s unique site identity by analyzing each of the following inputs. Therefore, comparing the samples with shifting developments from old browsers and outdated test results is difficult.
Since no two requests can come from different persons with the same IP address and the same browser version and operating system, additionally, the web server can be reconfigured to add more information to the browser logs through log format specifiers. Specific internet sites can reveal important private information of a person from a browser.
The client-side collection will avail a set of data that could help trace unique user information except for the IP address. Therefore, the client-side browser fingerprinting makes it easier to track identity without the need for an IP address.
Fingerprinting software can collect almost reveal 21 subsets of unique data identifiers. Although the law has not enforced any browser fingerprinting, evidence of more than ten identifying data sets can work as a substantial proof for conviction.
Like how would you live holding back your truths in this world of global communication sophistication? Take for instance the need for Facebook, WhatsApp, emails and a plethora of social sites that demand of you to fill in forms.
The only option lies in privacy habits that would make it difficult for your browsing data points to correlate. Doing so means intelligence agencies would not be able to separate your identity from a pool of data sets.
It therefore means, the amount of data for fingerprinting is minimal compared to the need for privacy surveillance. The data from both sites are only indicative of a measly reflection of the general population of internet users.
However, large technology firms like google and Facebook that own massive data centers have the potential to amass billions of private user information. When such substantial data points amassed by the big firms is used to compile browser fingerprinting, the threat to personal privacy becomes real and potentially harmful.
For instance, logging into your Twitter or Facebook from a private connection or Tor browser. The above browsers require that a user sets up unique customization to help protect their identity.
Additionally, you should also opt for a good VPN with strong encryption and the ability to conceal your IP address. Leveraging the above information with the kind of privacy you wish for will give you an opportunity to mitigate browser fingerprinting.