Each of us uses web browsers, but not all of us realize how huge amounts of data they collect about us. Returning home after work, you eat dinner, then sit back on the couch and start “anonymous” surfing the Internet. Error! Nowadays, anonymity is a myth.
What is a browser fingerprint?
Most people think that “private mode” / incognito, clearing cookies or using a VPN makes them invisible. Nothing could be more wrong! Thanks to your web browser, pages know exactly who you are.
They collect a number of data that identify each user. The set of characteristic features is used to create the browser’s fingerprint. With it, browsers track you and serve ads tailored to your interests.
After entering any website, the browser you are using sends to the site “query headers ” containing information such as:
- version of your operating system;
- browser type and version
- the language you use to browse the pages
- information about installed plugins
- your screen resolution
- graphics card
- battery (is it charged, what percentage of charge it currently has)
- IP address
- your link speed
- and many more
The set of these parameters is your browser’s fingerprint.
In order not to be aware, below I will introduce you to several websites where you can check what data browsers collect :
A new type of fingerprint protection from Brave
Instead of removing or modifying differences in the browser or adding embarrassing permission prompts, the Brave web browser will begin to add subtle randomization to some fingerprint endpoints.
The protection of privacy by introducing randomness has been researched by privacy IT specialists, recently in the PriVaricator projects (Nikiforakis et al., WWW 2015) and FPRandom (Laperdrix et al., ESSoS 2017).
Currently, embedded fingerprint defense mechanisms are trying to make the web browser look identical to the web page.
Brave goes a step further. The official release on the browser blog reads:
“Brave’s new approach aims to make every browser look completely unique, both between websites and between browsing sessions. By making your browser constantly appear different when browsing, websites are unable to link your browsing behavior, and are thus unable to track you on the Web.”
New security features can be tested on your own. First, use popular browsers such as Chrome, Firefox or even Tor to test. Then do one more test, this time using the Brave Brave Nightly version
- Visit https://fingerprintjs.com/demo
- Note the assigned fingerprint
- Reload the browser after clearing the memory, deleting all browser data or opening a new private window.
- Note: the same browser fingerprint is assigned even though all memory, cookies etc. have been deleted.
Happy and more anonymous surfing!