In the era of computers and smartphones, when more than half the world population has access to the Internet, the question of cyber security becomes more and more serious. In simple words, for ordinary users, cyber security is based on safe surfing without losing personal data and tracking.
By the way, if you see targeting advertisements based on your last search in Google or other search engines, that means your activity has been tracked. Because the weak point in a user’s cyber safety is the accessing window to the Internet – your Browser. In this review, we will try to understand the dangers connected to a Browser and its Fingerprint and methods of protection.
What is Browser Fingerprint
A Browser Fingerprint is unique information about a digital device (any device – computer, smartphone, tablet, PlayStation) used for access to the Internet. The fingerprints are an advanced version of cookies. Cookies are ineffective nowadays as most users know how to turn them off or can turn incognito mode in a Browser.
The fingerprint is not possible to turn off; there is stored user’s software, hardware information, language, installed fonts, geolocation, screen resolution, plugins, extensions, and many more – it is like your fingerprint. The accuracy of user identification with a digital fingerprint is about 99%. As you see, all these pieces of information together create a unique picture of the user. The website asks your permission to collect cookies; permission is legally not required for collecting fingerprints.
How Third Parties Use Browser Fingerprint
The user’s Digital Fingerprint is collected when you download the web resource. Different websites (about 80% of the total quantity) are interested in particular parts of your fingerprint and create your picture based on their recordings. There are three primary purposes of browser fingerprints collection:
- Optimizing The Visited Website To Your Computer Settings
- User Authentication
- Marketing Research
To Optimize The Visited Website To Your Computer Settings
This reason for collection is harmless as its purpose is to make website usage more convenient. The collected parameters are – the user browser, its version, your operating system, the screen resolution, and font size.
If it is a real person and all provided information is correct. It is usually safe to check for online services aimed first at simplifying your transactions. If such authentication shows some unusual activities, then additional security passwords on your mobile phone or email will be sent. For legal operations on the Internet, using digital fingerprints is acceptable and only for good. Sometimes, you can help prevent a crime with your banking account.
Some popular Internet resources collect fingerprints and send them to advertisers. The marketing companies provide you further on the ads that you will most likely be interested in your previous choices. Also, marketing companies can use it for other analytical campaigns. But some users consider such information collected as content personalization that helps them to find more easily required goods. It is not a black and white reason for collecting your fingerprints. The main problem is that they are collected without user awareness and without a clear explanation of the end reason.
In some cases, you do not want to go through the entire authentication process, or you want to hide some search requests from your Company or family. In addition, the cookies received legal protection status, but fingerprints did not, so only the user can now be responsible for his protection.
How To Hide Your Browser Fingerprints
There are many methods now that, with different success, can propose solutions to hide your Browser Fingerprint. Please see below the most popular:
- Use Special Browsers with NoScript plugins. These plugins should be changed from time to time. Your identity in the digital world will be reduced up to 40-50%.
- iOS and Android on mobile phones are more protected from digital fingerprint collection. Use smartphones for anonymous surfing. Safari browser (on iOS) has a function to hide all unique fingerprint information.
- Use plugins and extensions to standard browsers. Mainly they limit fingerprints to the minimum possible extent.
- Change your software or browser settings. You may change the part of a digital fingerprint – time zone, language, screen resolution, fonts, etc. But as it is not convenient to change all settings, you cannot decrease your identity significantly.
If you want to be anonymous on the Internet, you need to use any protection method to hide your Digital Fingerprints. As all websites share collected fingerprints, on the Internet, one day a very detailed portrait of your preference, leisure time, banking account status, and other private information from your online surfing.
So, use one or all of the proposed methods, but keep an opposing side of it – your Internet connection speed will decrease. In conclusion, you may see that the digital fingerprint is not only for the worse but also has several positive sides.
Simply increase your digital awareness, install protection measures, and apply them when you want to hide something. First, cookies were created, then a digital fingerprint and new methods will come to track the users and be updated with the latest achievements in anonymity protection.