Browser Fingerprinting–Why You Should Block It in 2022?
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Browser Fingerprinting

Browser fingerprinting was first identified by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in 2010. Most people may not know what browser fingerprinting is. To describe what browser fingerprinting is in a single line, it is a technique that collects information about your computer when you connect your device online. Whenever you connect from any of your devices can be anything such as computers, mobiles, and tablets online; your device’s information is shared with the target server to identify your device. The primary use of browser fingerprinting is for identification. In the upcoming block, we will discuss browser fingerprinting in detail and why you should take measures against it.

Browser Fingerprinting- What Is It?

Browser fingerprinting is a process of tracking your online transactions for identification. Browser fingerprinting uses algorithms such as the Rabin fingerprint algorithm to convert a large computer file into a short string of characters. When you connect your devices online, your browser will take information from requests and serve them to the target server about the website you visit.

Why Do Websites Collect Your Data?

There is a saying, “Everything is marketing, and marketing is everything.” If you have a revolutionary product or service without an effective advertisement online, it is impossible to deliver it to the target market. Organizations want to know your interest and devise an iron-clad strategy to improve their product or service. What is a better way to collect your online information? 

This is where fingerprinting comes into the picture. Especially, browser fingerprinting is information specifically collected with your browser’s help whenever you connect online. Browser fingerprinting gathers information such as your browser details, versions, type, what kind of operating system (OS) you currently use, your local timezone, the plugins you add to your browser, and language. It mainly checks whether you are using any adblockers on your browser or not and sometimes minute details such as your computer specifications. 

Browser fingerprinting gives enough information about your device and settings so that the target website can identify you with an accuracy of 90 to 99%. You might think it is impossible to locate a single person among millions of active people online. But there is a good chance that someone on the internet has 100% fingerprint as you, meaning that another user has the same browser configuration as you.

Most of this data helps to create a personalized experience for you. For example, you may wonder how you saw a product in a specific e-commerce site appearing in your online search, and this is the result of browser fingerprinting. When you leave a website, you leave behind a certain amount of your information which is a treasure for data brokers as they sell this information to third parties such as e-commerce companies to tailor your personal experience whenever you visit their e-commerce website or another website advertisement.

How Does Fingerprinting Works?

As said, fingerprinting allows data brokers to get information about your online transactions. How does it work? You start a programming script in your browser when you visit a website. Current web browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, and Safari have their API, which gathers information from your website if we block APIs to avoid fingerprinting. 

However, APIs are a core part of your browser, so without them, they may act erratically. Also, since the scripts are running in the background, there is no way to know when websites collect information about your online transactions and device. Fingerprinting scripts are similar to any other programming scripts embedded into the browser’s function, so there is no way to determine the script by just seeing it. 

These scripts collect information such as your device’s OS, specifications, plugins you integrate with your browser, timezone, location, language, and ad-blockers. It converts the raw information into a digital format known as “fingerprints.”
Data brokers get the data and sell it to third parties, so the third party may formulate a plan to reach the potential customer. That is one way to enhance your digital marketing; the other is by “cross-site tracking.

Nowadays, many website owners have a direct tie-up with the ad agency, meaning that owners of websites have direct access to your web traffic information such as your web browsing history, online purchasing history, online experience preferences, and news preference.

Techniques in Browser Fingerprinting:

There are predominantly three fingerprinting techniques that gather your online traffic information:

  • Canvas Fingerprinting– In this list, canvas fingerprinting is the most popular because it is based on HTML5 scripts that allow your browser to draw any image while visiting the website. Once your browser finishes the drawing, its rendering quality gives information about your computer graphics details, such as the type of font you primarily use, your graphics card details, drivers, browser configurations, and your OS. 
  • Rendering and WebGL Fingerprinting– Similar to canvas fingerprinting, rendering and webGL fingerprinting use the same technique that allows your browser to render an image based on the quality of the result that gives information about graphics and browser configurations.
  • Audio-Fingerprinting– In this technique, the core functionality remains the same as in the other two methods. The main difference is that it tests how your device handles sound instead of rendering an image. The resulting sound waves give enough information on how your device is configured and your audio drivers and software updates. 

Once your ad agency composes enough information, they will create a profile and directly share it with the website owner or sell it to data brokers. They will do the rest of the process by selling the information to third-party service providers. 

Cookies– What Is It?

Cookies are another method to track your internet transactions. They are small packets of information that a website stores within your browser. Whenever you visit the same website, the website loads the information already stored within the browser instead of loading the original data. The primary objective of cookies is to provide a faster online experience to the visitor who is revisiting the website. When you revisit a website, cookies are the communicating medium that tells the website server that the particular visitor has returned. 

Cookies store information such as your shopping history, cart details, login information, and user preferences. Ad agencies and advertisers place their ads in well-positioned areas where they gain a lot of traffic to their sites and capture their target audience according to their shopping history. Still, many view them as an invasion of privacy. 

Browser fingerprinting is legal in almost every country around the world. As per General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the primary thing to be aware of is that all websites must get consent from the user before they begin to track information by using cookies or any other technique. 

Measures Against Browser Fingerprinting:

There is no dedicated software to prevent browser fingerprinting completely, but you can take the first step to fight against browser fingerprinting, which is using a proxy server

Proxy Server- What Is It?

A proxy server is an intermediary server that sits between you and the target server. When you connect online, your IP address ties to your physical location, meaning you cannot access the content restricted to your region. 

A proxy server helps you to reroute your internet traffic through its server and deliver the requests to target servers. The rerouting process helps mask your IP address deeply and makes it difficult for target servers to check whether you are using a proxy server or not.

Which Is the Best Proxy Server for Browser Fingerprinting?

First, you need a proxy server that can bypass the security filters in the websites to access geo-restricted content. The second feature, the IP address, should resemble the IP address that an internet service provider would assign, making it difficult for the target server to deny your request. These two crucial features are a part of a residential proxy server.

ProxyScrape is one of the best proxy providers. ProxyScrape’s residential proxy server meets the requirements. It is much more than that, as it has a rotating feature, a technique that provides you with new IP addresses whenever you connect to the proxy provider network, or in our case, ProxyScrape’s network. Since your IP address is dynamic, it is difficult for the target server to track all those IP addresses and identify your location. Your original IP address is masked deeply with the help of a rotating proxy. Apart from that, other features that the ProxyScrape provides include:

  • Unlimited bandwidth with the concurrent connection.
  • 99.9% uptime.
  • 7+ million proxies in the proxy pool, so you can access any number of proxies at any point in time.
  • Username and password authentication for more security.
  • Ability to select any country servers that you desire. 
  • 24/7 customer support who can solve your problem in a short time.

FAQs:

1. What is mean by browser fingerprinting?

Browser fingerprinting is a process of tracking your online transactions for identification.  When you connect your devices online, your browser will take information from requests and serve them to the target server about the website you visit.

2. Who uses browser fingerprinting?

Data brokers and ad agencies often use browser fingerprinting to gather information about the visitors online and sell it to third parties organizations such as e-commerce websites and the medical sector to give personalized information to their customers.

3. Are cookies and browser fingerprinting the same?

The significant difference is that cookies are computer files that store visitors’ information on their computer once the user gives consent. But in fingerprinting, ad agencies and websites build a unique profile for every customer with the help of data brokers to provide a more personalized online experience.

Conclusion:

Imagine this scenario: what if some stranger comes to your home, takes your things, and leaves without telling you what is happening? You will be furious. That is the same thing happening in browser fingerprinting. There is no exact solution to avoid browser fingerprinting completely, but a proxy server can help to fight browser fingerprinting. ProxyScrape provides an excellent residential proxy for various high-bandwidth demanding tasks such as web scraping, SEO monitoring, and browser fingerprinting.

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