Browser Fingerprinting Vulnerabilities: Fight For Online Privacy

Browser fingerprinting vulnerabilities

What is browser fingerprinting? In short, no web browser would ever advertise that it isn’t private. Every brand, from Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox to Vivaldi and Brave, promises to protect your online activity. Some are better than others. Reddit and other online forums are full of discussions about that. But they all get worse each year.

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Collecting our data online is a multi-billion dollar business. The most profitable corporations are built around it. Even developers with the best intentions and open-source code won’t have much against such money. Unless we change tactics and focus on defeating browser fingerprinting first.

Browser Fingerprinting

Browser fingerprinting is the information that is collected from the browser while you surf the web, and it is used to identify you. 

Some of this information is sent by your browser willingly. Screen resolution and browser type, for example, are sent to web servers so that they can adapt the design and functionality of the website to your needs.

Other parts of information are even more necessary. Providing an IP address, for example, is dictated by the internet protocol itself. No communication can be established with a device that doesn’t have one. 

The third type of information – delicate software and hardware parameters, such as drivers and processing units, are collected even without the browser’s permission or knowledge.

A website might be programmed to run hardware benchmarks, which allow them to categorize users on how fast their devices can make cryptographic calculations. 14th-generation intel chips would perform it faster, 13th a bit slower, and so on.

Some clever hardware tests or rendering tasks can log almost any part of the device’s software and hardware parameters. It’s only a matter of how much processing power they have and how much it’s worth investing in tracking you.

The worst part is that these browser fingerprints are useless for anything else. Meta, for example, justifies them as a way to keep your account safe while still allowing users’ data to be leaked occasionally. 

Not to mention the multiple scandals surrounding the sale of user data. No such data collection would be possible if corporations would not be able to track your activity. So, what can an ordinary browser do against it?

How do web browsers fight back?

Often, a reaction to browser fingerprinting is to install more privacy add-ons to your browser. There are many good ad blocks, password managers, and similar tools that can be installed on popular browsers. However, they all make browser fingerprinting even worse.

Each website can detect what add-ons you are using. The more unique your add-on compilation, the easier it is for the website to identify you from the pack. It’s counterintuitive, but privacy add-ons can do more harm than good.

So, what can an ordinary internet user do? Well, some privacy-focused browsers have already taken action.

  • Mozilla Firefox blocks known scripts that can collect your fingerprint without permission. You can also restrict what you provide to third parties known to use fingerprinting techniques. 
  • Brave browser has implemented fingerprint randomization that provides a different compilation of settings each time.
  • Opera, Vivaldi, Chrome, Edge, and most other popular browsers do not have any built-in anti-fingerprint features. Rather, they rely on add-ons, which, as we already know, are self-defeating.

All these solutions are balancing privacy with convenience. To completely avoid browser fingerprinting, you need to disable JavaScript and other online features. Doing so makes surfing the web slow, inconvenient, and, in many cases, impossible.

Fight for privacy continues

Tor browser can implement all of the required measures to block fingerprinting. It can disable JavaScript, block almost all known fingerprinting scripts, and, most importantly, change your IP address by using the Tor onion network.

Simply put, all of your requests are encrypted and filtered through a network of devices. As a result, your connection is difficult to intercept, and your IP address is concealed. Without a doubt, Tor is the most private option, and the Tor community has done a lot for online privacy.

While I do recommend giving Tor a try, it’s anything but convenient. Most websites will not work, and the loading times are awful. But the fight for online privacy must continue, and an unexpected group of actors has provided us with a new tool against browser fingerprinting. 

Online identification measures really mess up things for marketing agencies and big corporations that need to manage multiple accounts. Ironically, the same people who want to track us want to stay undetected themselves.

As a result, marketers can no longer manage multiple accounts and collect needed data. That’s why anti-detect browsers were invented.

These browsers constitute a change in tactics against browser fingerprinting. Instead of hiding your fingerprint, they allow you to spoof it. 

Dolphin Anty browser, one of the best anti-detect browsers, has options to create different browser profiles. It can show your selected browser type, hardware settings, and everything else on demand.

The only problem with anti-detect browsers is location targeting. While Tor uses an onion network, anti-detect browsers use accredited proxy server providers, such as iproyal.com and others. Once you change your IP address location, you have the basis to start increasing your anonymity.

The best strategy to protect your online privacy is to determine the most popular fingerprint combinations and use them to blend in. The most common browser fingerprint now is using an Android from India using the Google Chrome browser. Of course, this is a generalization, and the exact audience you need to imitate will depend on the servers you visit the most.

Final thoughts

It’s sad to admit, but online privacy is a cat-and-mouse game. Each advance in browser fingerprinting will also give us new tools to fight against it. As long as there are privacy-minded people, there will be resilience to fight tracking measures.

Take Control of Your Privacy Today! Unblock websites, access streaming platforms, and bypass ISP monitoring.

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