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All You Need to Know About Browser Fingerprinting

If you’ve never heard of browser fingerprinting before, or if you’re unfamiliar with its definition, you’re not alone. This technical terminology deals with information and identification, which can be helpful to some and harmful to others. Read on to learn the main points of what it is and if it affects your internet use.

​Understanding Browser Fingerprinting: Key Questions Answered

Browser fingerprinting is designed to collect information. It identifies and tracks. With a broader potential than cookie-based technology, it establishes a digital fingerprint. And while cookies require permission, browser fingerprinting does not.

We’ll delve a bit deeper into this practice so you can get a better understanding of how browser fingerprinting works, the likelihood that you’ve encountered it, and ways to shield yourself from its wingspan, such as with an HTTPS proxy or using security plugins. When surfing the web, you absolutely need to know what’s going on and ways you can protect yourself.

​What Is Browser Fingerprinting?

Whether it’s a computer or a smartphone, your device holds a lot of data. When you connect to a server, you’re likely handing over all this information about who you are. This is your browser fingerprint.

You’re unique, and browser fingerprinting identifies you. It tracks your online behavior. More covert than the single-website limitations of cookies, it’s rapidly becoming the go-to way to watch your activity across the internet.

​Does Browser Fingerprinting Play a Role in Your Life?

For good and bad reasons, browser fingerprinting plays a part in your web surfing. For example, if you’re banking online, it’s a layer of protection that helps identify potential hackers attempting to use your account from an unfamiliar device. It works well to detect any odd activity, transactions, and purchases made without your authorization.

However, browser fingerprinting is also selling a product, and that product is you. Advertising businesses use your information to profile you for their own gain. They track your online data to target you with ads. Without your knowledge and permission, every move you make is being watched.

Is Browser Fingerprinting Harmful and How?

While many companies legitimately use browser fingerprinting for fraud protection and overall cybersecurity, this automatically makes you a vulnerable statistic. Not only are you considered a device and marketable commodity instead of a person, but you lose your privacy.

Your digital print contains everything from software information and timezone to screen resolution and language preference. Tracking this information happens silently under your nose as you’re none-the-wiser. Even taking measures such as clearing your browser history and cache simply isn’t enough.

When it comes to valid fingerprinting purposes, you definitely exchange confidentiality for security. And if this data falls into the hands of cybercriminals, your life can turn into a nightmare.

​Can You Protect Your Privacy Against Browser Fingerprinting?

There are many ways you can decrease your chances of leaving a unique print. Granted, you will not be able to protect yourself entirely, but you can take action to combat a high amount of tracking.

One way to minimize your identification is through proxies. Proxies act as a middleman between you and your destination. Instead of heading directly to a resource, your browser requests go through a proxy, which provides a different IP address to the web destination you’re trying to reach. Use this proxy to hide your own IP address and mask your real location.

Private methods such as browsing incognito are another way to conceal your identity. This works well with plugins that are designed to disable trackers. Using anti-malware software is simply a good idea in general, so make sure you’re up-to-date on these essential tools.

These aren’t the only ways to enhance your protection, but they’re a good starting point. They’re simple to implement and use, so you’ll exponentially improve covering up your fingerprint while increasing your safety and security.

​In Closing

Now that you understand what browser fingerprinting is and how it works, you have a much better idea of how you can protect yourself online. While it does have legitimate purposes, browser fingerprinting comes at a price. Only you can decide how vulnerable you want to make yourself. It’s really a matter of security versus privacy.

If you prefer privacy, cover up your unique fingerprint and operate confidentially. By remaining knowledgeable and staying aware of safe practices, you won’t single yourself out, and you can defend against web tracking.