How Browsing Fingerprinting is Used to Track You
The internet has enabled a lot of things in today’s modern world. In the early 2000s, the internet changed how businesses advertise their products and services. Many businesses dumped the traditional offline techniques and adopted online advertising through the internet.
Later, they realized that they could not advertise to everybody out there. The need to advertise to relevant audiences gave rise to behavioral tracking. By that we mean, businesses track your online movements and decide whether you’d be interested in what they do before sending ads your way.
This method relies on web cookies and not only tracks previously visited sites but the location, etc. But then, internet users in the mid-2000s discovered ways they’d stop this snooping. They’d disable cookies and use ad blockers, making it daunting for businesses.
But in a bid to keep up behavioral tracking, advertisers are now using new and much more sophisticated techniques. The latest trick that has made tracking possible is device or browsing fingerprinting. This article will look more into what it is and how it can help companies and advertisers track you.
What is Browsing Fingerprinting?
Device or browsing fingerprinting is a technique initially designed to track internet users for security purposes. It involves browsers gathering individual information of internet users and availing it where needed. This information includes location, device type, screen resolution, language, etc.
Trackers do not need to collect your information at a go. It can take a few browsing attempts to match details and create a unique and accurate fingerprint for every user. Consequently, they can track your online activity and movements without a problem.
This technique has evolved a lot from the time it first got introduced. Recent developments have made cross-browser fingerprinting possible, consequently making tracking more effective. According to experts, this dynamic technique is capable of identifying internet users 99% of the time.
On the positive side, browsing fingerprinting has played an important role in shaping the digital environment. It has enabled analytics and tracking for website owners. You can now know the number of visitors visiting your site and how many visitors return to it.
Online safety that wasn’t a guarantee before fingerprinting is now almost one. For instance, it has played a great role in identifying and preventing credit card and bank fraud. E-commerce fraudsters also now have a headache to try and defeat the wall fingerprinting has built.
How they fingerprint you
Although trackers cannot match fingerprints with real identities, there’s so much they can do you’re your information. Businesses are hiring third-party companies to collect the information we mentioned earlier. Now, their work is to discreetly monitor your digital movements and keep bits of data about you.
The data brokers hired to collect your information create a general profile of you. They look at your interests, from the sites you visit, consider the language you use, your location, and age range to create a pseudo profile for you, and that most of the time turns out to be an accurate representation of you.
Fingerprinting, as mentioned earlier, got developed to foster online security. Website owners create digital fingerprints to prevent identity theft, credit card fraud, software piracy, etc. Thus, many businesses and websites that benefit from it will tell you that it isn’t all that bad.
However, online privacy has been a concern for years, and browsing fingerprinting interferes with it. Companies exploit the information received from data brokers, and that is a consistent privacy violation. Thus, many internet users would rather protect themselves using security tools than have someone collect such critical data without consent.
Browsing Fingerprinting – How to Fight Back
Internet users get faced with a dilemma whenever the browser fingerprinting topic comes up. Of course, people want to find ways to stop it like they do with traditional behavioral tracking. However, the downside is that browsing fingerprinting is naturally difficult to circumvent.
A more positive thing that has come about is that you can, to some extent, prevent browser fingerprinting. Some privacy-first browsers like Tor make every device look the same. That makes it difficult for bots to collect the information required to create a digital fingerprint.
Safari, a browser that belongs to Apple, is another difficult one to fingerprint. Apple has a smaller product line than many mobile devices and PC manufacturers, making most of its devices look similar. Consequently, you become immune to fingerprinting if you’re using an iPhone or Mac.
Firefox is another potential option for internet users looking to avoid fingerprinting. This browser has invested in aggressive default privacy protection features. Besides, there is a word that it is also advancing its protection features to block fingerprinting in the future completely.
You can also use an SSL proxy to fight back browsing fingerprinting. The best thing about using this proxy is that it enhances your online security and privacy at the same time. Besides, they help you remove ads that you do not like and aid in ad verification to reduce online fraud.
Although fighting back on new technology isn’t easy, it is best to give it a try. Technology itself has made it possible to fight back, thanks to the software developments and protection features being added to browsers.
The digital landscape is increasingly becoming complex every day. Consumers are becoming careful about what they have to do to browse securely and privately. Conversely, marketers and advertisers are hungry for customer information as they look to up their marketing game and reach business goals.
New tracking techniques like browsing fingerprinting are becoming popular since traditional reliance on cookies is no longer reliable. However, internet users are also becoming aware of new ways to curb fingerprinting. The use of protective browsers, proxies, and developing new privacy rules seems to work.
With browsing fingerprinting constantly changing with new advancements like cross-browser fingerprinting, you have to be smart enough to prevent it. One of the best things you can do is investing in reliable software, using protected browsers, or purchasing well-protected devices.