Security / Tech

What is invisible browser fingerprinting? And how can I avoid it?

MacBook Pro Keyboard Photo Taken By Alex Hernandez and is Property of Techaeris

Prevention from browser fingerprinting is almost impossible. One might consider using a VPN for this purpose. You can get protected from Browser Fingerprinting by using a credible VPN.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Browser fingerprinting is a method to track user activity and store their information, including time zones, locale, browsers, and more, to identify them, among others uniquely. This technique is a privacy intrusion of internet users to identify them amongst all others.

When you visit a website, they store certain parts of your data for themselves. This data is then used to track and identify you through your search habits and online activities all over the internet.

Prevention from browser fingerprinting is almost impossible. One might consider using a VPN for this purpose. You can get protected from Browser Fingerprinting by using a credible VPN.

How do websites collect data for fingerprints?

What is invisible browser fingerprinting? And how can I avoid it?

There is no single method when it comes to tracking user information and activity for a fingerprint. To prevent your data from being stored for fingerprint, you need to comprehend where and how your data is being collected.

Cookies

Cookies are the easiest way to store data and information of users. These are small files stored on your computer when you visit a website and are used to track your online data and activity. Websites collect some user data and information through cookies. Third-party websites then use this information to follow you.

Canvas fingerprinting

One of the recent ways to obtain and store user information is Canvas fingerprinting. A small code for fingerprint browsing is found inside HTML5, which is used to build websites.

This code is called canvas that collects user information while a user skims through that website. It collects data like fonts, background color, and more.

Device fingerprinting

Device fingerprinting includes the list of all media components being used on the device. This type of fingerprinting reveals all the media devices that are connected to your PC or mobile. This can include your headphones, audio card, video card, etc.

How to prevent fingerprint browsing?

Complete protection from fingerprint browsing is difficult and impossible to achieve. One may prevent most of its information from being collected, but it is impossible to remain completely unidentified while using the internet. There are some practices available that can make a user harder to track over the internet.

Using private browsing

Most popular search engines offer users a private or incognito mode that limits browser fingerprinting on their device.

Private browsers collect your data like cache and cookies, but they get removed as soon as the incognito window is shut down. This way, tracking you later is hard.

Incognito browsers also do not save your history for third-party advertisers to use them to target products and services. What happens on an incognito browser stays on the incognito browser. That’s for sure.

Although private browsers do provide many benefits, some parts of your information are still visible to websites. This can include your IP address. While you use a private browser, your IP address and locale are still visible to websites, allowing them to track you through there.

Browsers that offer incognito and private browsing are:

  1. Google Chrome offers Incognito mode.
  2. Microsoft Edge offers InPrivate Browsing that is available on Windows 10.
  3. Opera offers Private tabs.
  4. Safari offers Private Browsing for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Using a VPN

browser fingerprinting VPN
VPNs offer a variety of services, and that prioritize user privacy over everything else.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is yet another secure way to combat fingerprint browsing.

VPNs work as a disguise between your search query and your destination. They encrypt all data that leaves the user’s computer and encrypt it before reaching the destination website.

VPNs also mask a user’s IP address with another IP of one of its servers to direct websites to collect that server for storing cookies.

VPNs offer a variety of services, and that prioritize user privacy over everything else.

We recommend NordVPN. This VPN offers various features providing users a safe and secure browsing experience. NordVPN offers features like a kill switch that disconnects the internet from a device if the VPN gets disconnected for any apparent reason. This way, the IP address and location of the user never get leaked.

NordVPN also provides users with a no-log policy, ensuring that they never have to log in anywhere to collect data and information from users.

This VPN encrypts data using OpenVPN protocol and offers double VPN services to protect users’ privacy and security. NordVPN is compatible with all major devices, and a single account provides multiple connections to users.

Disabling Javascript and Flash

Websites cannot collect data about what plugins and fonts you use when you disable Javascript and Flash from your device. For example, third parties send Facebook your web and app activities for tracking purposes.

Disabling these services also restricts some websites from collecting cookies and cache for third-party websites.

But, many websites do not function without Javascript or Flash. You may also face display issues on the websites you visit with your Javascript disabled. Popular websites like Facebook require Javascript to run.

Both these services may prevent you from online fingerprinting but will affect your website browsing experience. It would depend on which do you prioritize more, your experience, or your privacy.

Tor browser

The Onion Router, aka the Tor Browser, is one of the most popular ways to block browser fingerprinting. Tor browser enables a user to surf the internet anonymously. Your IP address and location become invisible when you use a Tor browser.

Like a VPN, Tor browsers offer multi-layer encryption to users. Every search query or website visit is passed through multiple servers before it reaches its destination. It also blocks Javascript to prevent websites from storing cookies.

A VPN and Tor browser together become a powerful combo. Tor browsers tend to make the browsing experience slow. While the Tor browser provides multilayer encryption, a VPN can back it up by preventing ISP throttling.

Using browser extensions and plugins

To block ads and trackers from tracking your online activity and storing cookies, you can install a browser extension or plugin.

Browser extensions like NoScript, Privacy Badger, Disconnect, Adblock Plus, etc., prevent spying ads and trackers from entering your browser. These plugins are easy-to-install and provide you with a slightly more secure browsing experience than before.

Conclusion

The internet has provided us with countless opportunities in any form, whether to learn or grow. But users have been paying the price while enjoying all services over the internet. One cannot completely block itself while using the internet, but you can always make the best efforts in preventing spies from storing your data and uniquely identifying you over the internet.

The above-mentioned methods would allow you to cover your tracks and protect your information while using the internet.

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