Online Fingerprinting: Ideas to Protect Yourself from Fingerprint Tracking

The power of information can help or hamper many people in today's world
The power of information can help or hamper many people in today's world

LONDON – TECH – Do you know about online/browser fingerprinting? It is an accurate method to track online activity and identify unique browsers. Online fingerprints are fingerprints of a machine, browser or device. Remote computing devices collect this information for identification. Fingerprints are useful to partially or fully identify individual devices or users even without cookies.

This method is powerful to collect information about the version and type of browser, operating system, language, time zone, screen resolutions, active plugins, and several active settings. Online fingerprints simply work more reliably than others do. Websites depend on the information of browsers to recognize operators and track their specific online behaviour. This method is relevant to the investigation process of forensic and police teams. They also use fingerprints to identify criminals.

This information may not reveal your name, home address, and exact identity, but it is valuable for advertising purpose. Data collection and tracking methods are helpful because they help advertising businesses to create their profile based on this data. With the use of this data, business organizations can accurately target their customers and increase their revenue. Browser fingerprinting allows you to identify the features of botnets because different devices can establish connections of botnets.

With this analysis, it could be easy to identify fraudsters and suspicious activities that need investigations. Banks depend on this method to identify probable fraud cases. The security system of a bank can easily identify the questionable online behaviour of an account. With fingerprinting, banks can access if an account is accessed from different locations within a few minutes.

Ideas to Avoid Browser Fingerprinting

It is almost impossible to protect yourself from fingerprinting completely. Perhaps, some software and other methods can help you. 

Use VPNs

You can browse different websites as anonymous. Install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to hide your IP address. A VPN becomes an intermediary between you and the server. Instead of establishing a direct connection to web servers, make sure to connect to a VPN server first and then VPN will make a connection between you and a website. It is an efficient way to hide your IP address from a web server.

VPN can be an effective method to cover your IP addresses. The server will only see the IP address of a VPN that is used by several other users. Keep it in mind that your IP address is an essential aspect of your online identity. Along with IP address, web servers can see the version of your browsers, its settings, etc. Your VPN can’t stop a server from obtaining your fingerprinting data.

Web servers can still identify you by obtaining data from your browser. However, VPN is great to hide your actual IP address, but it is not an effective method to defend yourself against web browser fingerprinting.

Private Browsing

Several browsers, such as FireFox, Safari, and Chrome enable users to use incognito mode. In this mode, you can browse privately by setting a profile to particular data points. The data points become a part of your fingerprint. Several people use similar profile settings; therefore, the fingerprints look the same. This method will significantly decrease the odds of having an exclusive fingerprint.

Use Plugins

Feel free to use plugins to disable trackers from running on your web browser. Several websites use trackers to collect your data for advertising purposes. Plugins, such as Disconnect, Privacy Badger and AdBlock Plus can block suspicious script that can enable invisible trackers and spying ads from running in a web browser. For several websites, the user experience can be less satisfactory. You can disable some plugins from running on a few trustworthy sites.

Disable Flash and JavaScript

For protection against online fingerprinting, you can disable Flash and JavaScript. Once you disable JavaScript, websites can’t detect the lists of active fonts and plugins on your browser. They can’t install their cookies on your web browser.

Sometimes, JavaScript is essential for your websites. After disabling this script, your sites may not function properly. This script is necessary for the smooth running of your website on your particular devices. It can impact your entire browsing experience. You can disable Flash without worrying about user experience. If you are visiting old sites, flash can affect your browsing experience.

Anti-Malware Software

Feel free to install anti-malware software for protection of online privacy. This software is always helpful for your protection. With this software, you can get the advantage of overall security for personal data/files and your device.

Read reviews about different anti-malware software to select the best tool for your protection. With this software, you can add a second layer of protection. In several cases, anti-malware can block annoying or harmful toolbars, ads, and spyware software. This software might run in the background of your system.

These tools and software are directly associated with the fingerprinting of your browser. It will be good to delete all possible threats with anti-malware tools to clean your browsers. After installing an anti-malware, check your settings and enable automatic full-system scans (weekly or monthly).

Tor Browser

A Tor browser can protect you from online fingerprinting. This browser can work in the combination of a VPN. With particular default settings of Tor, it will be difficult to identify the unique fingerprints of a browser. Moreover, this browser can block JavaScript codes on sites. Slow browsing speed is a significant downside of Tor browser.

Methods to Track Fingerprints

Websites use multiple ways to track the activities of users on the internet. With this process, they collect fingerprint and information about your browser. The technology permits websites to retrieve data via interaction with your browsers. Here are some popular interaction methods.

Tracking and Cookies        

Websites often use cookies to obtain essential data. Cookies are minor packs of manuscript files stored on a computer. These may contain particular data that is necessary for webmasters to improve their user experience. Your browser automatically downloads cookies whenever you visit a website. If a site knows you are always using a Samsung Galaxy X, you will get the best settings for your smartphone.

With cookies, websites can identify whether you are a frequent visitor or a unique visitor. Cookies can store information on browsing interests, habits, activities, etc. Moreover, JavaScript of websites can interact with visitors to carry out particular tasks, such as streaming music videos.

Canvas Fingerprinting

It is a new method to obtain information on a browser. Websites are scripted in HTML5 code. This code has a little segment of code to take the fingerprint of your browser. The latest tracking method is enabled by HTML5 coding. This coding language is famous to build websites. The language has an element known as the canvas. The canvas elements of HTML5 can generate particular data, such as color settings of an active background of visitors and font size. Unlike cookies, canvas fingerprint method doesn’t install anything on your computer.

IP Address and Browser Fingerprinting

Several online users know that concealing your IP address can help you to cover up your identity. The protocol of IP addresses is planned to send an appeal to a receiving server every time you interact with a service or website.

The receiving servers need IP addresses to send responses to senders. Your IP addresses become an exclusive string of numbers that directly points to your devices. The owners of tech-savvy websites can track your online activities and your geo-location.