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.

 

Advertisements