With the development of the Internet, an increasing number of services are trying to uniquely identify the user, this is done for various reasons, for example, to display advertising, prevent multi-accounting, competition, protection from cybercriminals, and so on. Well, in general, there is never too much data.
Typically, cookies, IP addresses, and fingerprints are used to identify a user. Most users have already heard a lot about cookies and IP addresses, today we’ll look at fingerprints.
A fingerprint is a digital snapshot of the browser and the device on which it is running. A fingerprint can consist of various data that the browser transmits to websites.
It is important to understand that not much information about the device on which it is running is transmitted through the browser, it is impossible to uniquely identify the user by fingerprint, you can only draw any conclusions by analyzing the information, and there is also no clear list of data from which will consist of a fingerprint, each site can use its own methods of data collection and analysis.
What might a fingerprint consist of?
Examples of such data:
- UserAgent and userAgentData – sites can find out the operating system, browser type, version, bit depth and some other information;
- Canvas – you can convert a two-dimensional image drawn on a canvas into a text string and approximately determine the device on which the browser is running;
- WebGL – you can determine the parameters of the graphics adapter, and also convert a three-dimensional image drawn on the canvas into a text string, similar to Canvas;
- Language options;
- Battery parameters (especially relevant for mobile devices);
- Fonts that the browser uses;
Each of these parameters separately will not provide any specifics, since for many users they may coincide. However, having collected the entire array of data, you can analyze it, compare it with other data received from other users, identify inconsistencies and draw conclusions.
There are many sites where you can view your data from which fingerprints are collected, for example, browserleaks.com
How to protect yourself?
To resist identification of you through fingerprints, there are several options:
- Use Antidetect browsers, there are now a lot of them on the market, with different interfaces, technologies and principles of operation. In such browsers you can create browser profiles that will differ from each other in their fingerprints, you will not need to understand the issue, everything will be done within you.
Examples of anti-detect browsers with a free version: Undetectable browser, AdsPower, Dolphinbrowser.
- Use browser extensions that help hide fingerprints, replace them, or block their detection. Extensions are usually worse than Antidetect browsers, since they do not always exactly replace or even disable some functionality, making your browser too unique, because of this, sites may block you or not work correctly.
Examples of such extensions: Canvas blocker, Fingerprint defender, User-Agent Switcher
- Use browsers that transfer less data, for example, the Firefox browser tries to transfer less information. The set of data that can be used for fingerprinting is much smaller than in Chromium-based browsers such as Chrome, Opera, Edge
In conclusion, we can say that none of the methods of user identification, be it Cookies, IP address, fingerprints, works 100%: one IP address can be used by the same people, it can be changed using a proxy and VPN, cookies can erase and “play up” new ones, change fingerprints, but if someone has all this data together, then he will be able to clearly determine who you are, determine your location, your interests, show you the information they want and influence your behavior .