Device Fingerprinting

Device Fingerprinting Might Be The New Way To Track Users Online

Used since the advent of the internet, simple cookies placed on user’s pcs to record their internet browsing habits are now obsolete. Instead, more and more websites have switched to device fingerprinting on people who visit their services, a method which is very difficult to avoid and not very direct either.

Browser Cookies Era

Placed on your hard drive every time you visit a new website, cookies used to observe user preferences of web browsing are very easily removed or periodically deleted by third party applications. One can also activate the Do Not Track option in their browser settings to avoid the issue. As for mobile phones, they do not even use cookies at all, so big advertising companies are forced to seek alternative means.

Modern Online User Tracking Techniques

The new method, called device fingerprinting, involves recording several unique features of each computer, such as the list of plugins used by web browsers and other software installed, the time zone used, fonts, screen resolution and hardware installed. Taken together, all these contribute to the composition of a digital signature comparable to a fingerprint, allowing precise identification of users. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, 94% of web browsers are using Flash or Java plugins, opening options for precises determination of the identity of devices.

New user device fingerprinting method is even more efficient than using simple cookies as the virtual signature remains easily identifiable even after the browsing history is deleted from the web browser, which removes any files left behind after websites have been visited. Moreover, changes to the configuration, for example by uninstalling or adding new applications will just help to increase the accuracy with which your profile can be found online.

Device Fingerprinting

Device Fingerprinting

While some internet users perceive it as a privacy violation, device fingerprinting methods based on hardware signature ( or hardware id ) will bring great profits to advertisers willing to use it. They are charging rates between $1,000 and $50,000 promising instead to identify users with the precision of up to 98%. So far, the methods used are still are still perceived with a grain of salt by clients, concerned that these practices could damage the image of the company they run. As for us, the users, the only sure way to protect ourselves from getting monitored online is not to come online, as there still isn’t a web browser capable of circumvent new monitoring techniques.

How To Block Online Tracking Applications

Considering all the conspiracy theories going on after NSA revelations, such solutions will probably won’t start to emerge before at least six to 8 years will pass, at least. At the current moment, the only solutions out there to prevent companies from crawling our data are a little far fetching. It would involve installing and using Virtual Machines to browser,  or using bare naked browsers like Epic. You could go ahead and not use Flash or Java, but then you would be left out of the possibility to visit almost any website that takes use if it.

Of course, advertising companies will argue that if you don’t have anything to hide, you should not be worried. But I am sure there are alot of people out there who would see that point of view as being hypocritical to say the least. What’s your opinion over online tracking practices that are going on lately and will continue to emerge ? Share your thoughts below.

 

Cross Platform Apps

Run iOS Apps on Android Thanks to Project Cider

Although the idea behing this project is not entirely new, Project Cider is the first system that will let you run iOS apps on Android.
Over the years, the concept of cross platform applications was not as popular as it is now. For a long time, a Windows application would never run on Mac, or vice versa. This preconception was abolished on a large scale for the first time once Microsoft Office suite for Mac emerged.
Since there are still some applications that are available only for iOS, many have expressed their desire for a method to port some applications from Apple’s mobile platform on Android as well. For the first time, there is a solution to this problem, called Project Cider.

Cross Platform Apps

Cross Platform Apps

The magic of this project is to improve a system for writing native code for iOS which can be also run on Android. Shown in detail in the video below, Project Cider was conducted by a team of researchers at Columbia University. They were proud about the development of a “compatible operating system architecture” which is not based on a virtual machine to carry out the running applications created for the iPhone or iPad. In addition, it is not necessary to change any line of code in the original application and 3D acceleration works great, according to them.
Basically, Cider tricks iOS applications to work on Android’s Linux kernel exactly as it would work on Apple’ XNU kernel.
Before results of such a collective effort will be made public, legal issues related to  transfering applications from an iDevice onto Android must be taken care of. Finally, I am afraid these things might be the most complicated.

 

Beats Holiday Exclusive Preview

Apple is interested in buying Beats for a spectacular amount of money

Like many other rich companies, Apple also periodically buys smaller scale companies which hold patents or products considered useful for enriching their own technological baggage. Unlike other companies, Apple focuses on fabulous non discrete amounts of money. According to a rumor, Apple is preparing for the most expensive acquisition to date, and the company concerned is a very well known one: Beats Electronics.

The producer of expensive headphones and portable speakers, the famous Beats is not a company really appreciated by audiophiles, but is instead a very popular name among ordinary users who are attracted by fashion trends rather than radio quality without compromise. According to the Financial Times, Apple is very close to completing a full takeover of the company for the amount of $3.2 billion, the most expensive acquisition made by the company so far. According to internal sources that brought media attention to this info, the contract is not yet perfected, but negotiations are in an advanced stage and the successful completion of these could result in an official announcement somewhere net week.

 

Beats Holiday Exclusive Preview

Beats Holiday Exclusive Preview

 

Apple is not the first mobile phone manufacturer which is attracted by Beats. Perhaps readers will recall, in 2011, HTC bought a 50.1% stake in Electronic Beats for the sum of 309 million dollars and used the name of the company to promote their products, but gave up this commitment when he hit known financial problems for a profit of 85 million dollars.

The famous and pricey products are not the only targets in Apple’s sight, the use of the famous name in a similar manner like HTC did is of no concern, keeping in mind how Apple cares about its image in the media. Beats also launched its own streaming service and Beats Music and Apple might be interested in taking to develop its iTunes Music Service.

beats-music-iphone-5s-find-it

beats-music-iphone-5s-find-it

 

The famous digital store, iTunes, was basically selling music services that have been successful, but such businesses are beggining to fade in the face of demand for streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer and Pandora, or iTunes Radio, which so far did not receive much acclaim. Following this acquisition, Apple could benefit from both the platform and the experience of Beats Music behind it, and the rumor that Jimmy Lovine could get behind Apple’s team as a Special Adviser makes us belive thats the company’s intention.

Even if the transaction is completed, Apple does not disclose how it intends to use the purchase, so we would have to have patiente to see the direction in which things will evolve.
I’m more curios on how the prices will carry on after the purchase will be made, but I’m sure the stores will tell that story when the time comes hehe.