Browser fingerprinting is a data collection method used by websites to uniquely identify users. Browser fingerprinting uses web scripting to collect information such as browser type, default device language, time zone, etc.
Websites gather data and develop an online personality or fingerprint, based on your internet habits. With this, any action on the internet can easily be traced back to you. Browser fingerprinting uses four integral technologies to identify individuals based on internet habits. The technologies are:
- Device fingerprinting
- Audio fingerprinting
- Canvas fingerprinting
- Rendering fingerprinting and WebGL fingerprinting
However, browser fingerprinting is a security concern because they continue working even when the website is closed, unlike cookies. Another difference between the two is that cookies are highly regulated. In most regions globally, cookies are supposed to give a prompt, while with browser fingerprinting, no user prompts are given.
With this knowledge, it is therefore important for internet users to secure themselves against browser fingerprinting. In this article, we highlight some of the ways that you can use to avoid browser fingerprinting.
1. Disable Flash in Your Browser Settings
Though a relic of the past for mainstream websites such as Chrome, Mozilla, and Safari, some websites still use flash. Flash technology is used to help browsers to display multimedia. In detail, flash helps browsers to create vector animations that are graphics based with full-screen controls. Flash also helps to dynamically alter website pages according to the screen size of the device in use.
However, flash has become replaced, and it is said to serve no purpose other than fingerprint data collection. If you are using a browser that is not categorized among the mainstream browsers in the market, you should check whether your browser uses flash. If your browser uses the technology, look up the methods to disable it to prevent data collection for building your online persona.
2. Use a Proxy
Proxies are often referred to as an intermediary between users and the internet. When using a proxy service, all your internet traffic is routed through the proxy server and then redirected to the internet. Using a proxy server helps to mask your IP address and location.
With such a vital task, you must use a proxy server that follows all the networking security standards. Proxies from Rayobyte are secure and hold user data with utmost concern to ensure privacy and security are not compromised.
However, if you have been an internet user for a long while, there is a high possibility that you already have an online profile. This means that even when using a proxy server, your internet use cases can still be traced back to you. In such cases, you should employ the use of all the methods mentioned in this article, alongside using a proxy to prevent further data collection.
3. Deleting Unused Browser Add-Ons and Plugins
Browser plugins have become a common site on many people’s browsers. People use browser plugins and add-ons to add functionality to their browsers. However, one thing that we have to keep in mind is that browser fingerprinting uses all information, even the one considered most unnecessary.
The various plugins that you have installed on your browser can be used to uniquely identify you without even logging onto any site. A generalized browser fingerprinting example is finding that a browser contains add-ons such as Grammarly, Copy.AI, speechnotes, etc., clearly showing that the user is a writer.
When you introduce another browser add-on into that combination with a different use case from the rest, you can easily be identified based on that.
It is important to note that disabling a browser add-on is not enough to ensure that browser fingerprinting is halted. This is because a disabled browser add-on can still be seen as installed on your browser.
4. Active Browser Fingerprint Management
As seen from the above-listed ways of preventing browser fingerprinting, most of the methods hinder or reduce the usability of one’s browser. Actively managing your browser fingerprint is an effective way of countering the data collection without hindering or reducing browser usability.
A browser identity management tool helps users to keep their identity anonymous while browsing online. The browser identity management tool actively masks or hides any data on your browser that can be used to identify you. With this, websites cannot build your persona using personally identifying data collected from your browser.
Identity management tools work by creating many user profiles that you can use to browse the internet. As an internet browser, you randomly choose the profile you will use to browse the internet.
Using such anonymous profiles that do not have any personally identifying data prevents websites from learning about you or tracing an action back to you. The identity management tools also have security techniques to prevent fingerprinting techniques from linking the created accounts to one user.
5. Browser Security Extensions
There are numerous browser extensions available in the market that help an internet user prevent and reduce browser fingerprinting. Most of the extensions are available for chromium-based browsers since they are the most used browsers.
A popular privacy extension is Canvas Fingerprint Defender. Rather than seeking to prevent browser fingerprinting, the extension allows it but with one trick, the extension takes browser data and feeds the browser fingerprinting methodologies fake data.
Such extensions that use the functioning of browser fingerprinting techniques to secure your data are a good way to avoid the data collection practice.
It is common to come across sketchy ads on the internet with links to software that help prevent browser fingerprinting. You ought to be cautious with such as most of the software contains malware that significantly reduces the security of your data.
For the best method to avoid browser fingerprinting, embrace the use of privacy-centered browsers such as Brave and Tor. These browsers have inbuilt features that prevent data collection.