What is Browser Fingerprinting & How To Avoid It?

Have you come across the term browser fingerprinting? Well, if you haven’t, then you must know it is another way to track a user’s online activity. If you worry about your privacy when online, then don’t. There are a few things which could help you get rid of all your fingerprints from the internet.

But, before going further, let’s know what is browser fingerprinting, how it works and how to deal with it.

What is Browser Fingerprinting?

What is Browser Fingerprinting

Browser fingerprint is information collected for a remote computing device for identification purposes. These fingerprints can be used to completely or partially identify users or devices, irrespective of the fact that you have disabled cookies.

In other words, whenever you go online on any of your devices, your device will transfer specific data to receiving server related to the websites you visit. The process could also even collect data related to your browser and computer including timezone, browser type and version, OS, screen resolution.

You think the process as IAFIS database which comprises of fingerprints of millions of subjects of criminal cases as well as civil cases. A large amount of data was collected for analysis. Browser fingerprinting works the same way. It collects a large chunk of data of visitors to match them against known users’ browser fingerprints.

This doesn’t expose your identity-related things such as an address, or name, but it is quite useful for advertising purposes as it can be used to target a particular group for effective marketing. Browser fingerprinting helps in matching people, therefore forming such groups.

However, there is another side of browser fingerprinting. It can be very useful to identify botnets which could lead to finding suspicious activities. It is used by banks to detect potential deceit.

How To Avoid Browser Fingerprinting?

Well, to our dismay, we can’t completely avoid browser fingerprinting. However, you can keep it at bay in a few ways. With a few tools and processes available, you can strengthen your online privacy and reduce the probability of identification.

Let’s know the methods to minimize identification possibility:

Method 1: Private Browsing

Almost all popular browsers use Chrome, Firefox and Safari come with private browsing feature. It is called incognito mode. The incognito mode keeps your browsing secure by fixing your profile to some standard data points. The data points are a part of your fingerprint, considering a lot of people use the same profile settings, the fingerprints seem similar.

Therefore, using private browsing can minimize the chances of you having a unique fingerprint.

To get Incognito mode on Chrome, press CTRL+Shift+N, for Firefox and Edge, press CTRL+Shift+ P to get private browsing mode.

Method 2: Use Plugins

Installing plugins can also help you to disable trackers by the websites that you visited.  You can install StopAllAds, AdBlock Plus, Disconnect etc. These extensions are designed to block script so that it could prevent spying ads and trackers from running on your browser.

This is great to stop ads and trackers; however, this could ruin the user experiences while visiting some websites. But you can always whitelist the websites that you trust.

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Method 3: Disable Flash & JavaScript

To prevent browser fingerprinting, you can disable Flash and JavaScript. When you can disable JavaScript, the websites aren’t able to detect the list of active plugins and font that you use. Also, they can’t install cookies on your browser. The downside could be a website not functioning to the fullest, ultimately ruining browser experience.

Disabling Flash could also affect the user experience while browsing, especially when you visit old websites.

Method 4:  Install Security Software

Using a protection tool on your computer minimizes the risks of security loopholes. One of the best tools which can protect your computer from security threats is Advanced System Protector. The tool protects your computer malware, adware, spyware and phishing scams. It identifies threats while browsing and prevents them from harming your PC.

Also, it is recommended to schedule a deep scan weekly or monthly to ensure the security of your computer.

Method 5: Use Brave Browser

If you want to browse anonymously and  simple incognito mode won’t suffice. You can change your browser to Brave browser. It is chromium based freemium browsed which provides you security whole browsing online along with protection against browser fingerprinting.

The browser promises 8x faster speed than Chrome and Safari, it comes with an inbuilt ad blocker that prevents tracking and offers security with optimiZed data and device performance.

Method 6: Use a VPN

One of the best ways to avoid getting tracked is to mask your IP address is to get a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN acts as a mediator between the user and the web server. Whilst connecting to a web server, it connects you to a VPN server, then it connects to a website.

In this way, you surf the internet without revealing your IP address. There are a lot of VPNs available for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS. The VPN protects your internet activities from malicious activities and hackers, secure you when using public Wi-Fi networks.

Wrap up

Now you know that Browser fingerprinting is a serious threat to online privacy. It can use your data points and create browser fingerprint, which is unique. Websites can use these fingerprint to accumulate data related to the websites that you visited or target personalized ads. So, it is important to use the above methods and protect yourself against Browser Fingerprinting.

How would you prevent browser fingerprinting? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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