The internet is a vast domain of seamless information and insight. It is the essence of modern-day life and yet, it also has its risks associated with it. Everyone who uses the internet is at risk of having their privacy invaded.
One of the most powerful tools tracking agencies have is browser fingerprinting. This method can even bypass certain rudimentary anonymizing measures. So, if you have concerns about your online privacy and want to remain safe, you should understand what browser fingerprinting is.
What Is Browser Fingerprinting?
Your browser is a software which runs on your device and lets you access the internet. As such, it has access to your device configurations and can reveal them to any party online. For everyday people, your device information will not be available. However, for anyone with direct access to your network or the right tracking tools, finding out your device details is easy.
Using these tools, anyone can find out things like user agent, accept, connection, encoding, language, plugins, platform, cookies, and permissions etc. There are many other types of details which allow the tracker to identify your device with ease. And if you have some attributes which stand out, you can be distinct in your local network region.
Naturally, this allows anyone with your data to use it for marketing and advertising purposes and other nefarious objectives as well. So, if you are a privacy-conscious web user, then you need to be aware of your browser fingerprint. Let’s look at just how you can find that out.
How Can You Find Your Browser Fingerprint?
Browser fingerprinting and its techniques are more complex than the average user needs to know. But it is useful to know exactly what your fingerprint is and how it is collected. Broadly speaking, there are two ways through which browser fingerprinting is done – server side and client side. It is easier to understand the client-side of the business so let’s take that up.
For client-side browser fingerprinting, AmIUnique.com and Panoptic are two good choices. Both of them will tell you what your fingerprint details are. To do this, all you have to do is visit a browser fingerprinting website and they will draw up the details for you.
Please remember that these websites have different databases which are constantly being updated. So, it is entirely possible that your browser fingerprint is slightly inaccurate or will change from one week to another. Still, it will give you a fair idea of what your fingerprint is on your own.
Once you have this information, you can then look into methods to anonymize your fingerprint. This is in effect a set of things you can do to blend in your device with your local region. Here are some ways to do this based on browser type.
How to Anonymize Your Browser Fingerprint?
The first thing you need to know about browser fingerprinting is that bigwigs like Chrome and Edge cannot be trusted. They are widely known to collect user data at the minutest levels. So, if you are using them then you need to switch to a privacy-centric browser like Firefox, Brave, or Tor. If you have more tech expertise then Virtual Machines are a very good option. They also allow linking between a number of VPNs for more enhanced security than most people will practically need. Now, let us look at what each of these browsers can do for your fingerprint.
Firefox is a mainstream name in the browser categories online and it is one of the best for privacy. While this browser comes with its privacy pre-configurations, you can modify them for better coverage. For this, you need to:
- Go to the about.config doc.
- Then make changes like “privacy.resistFingerprinting = true” and “webgl.disabled = true”.
- Both of these will be useful in hiding specific attributes about your connection and device.
- You should read up the privacy guide for Firefox to customize the security coverage you want.
The Brave browser is somewhat of a new kid on the block. However, it has made people take notice because of its privacy features and settings. You will get a preconfigured set for privacy when you download it. For many people, this might be enough. However, there are many other ways the privacy can be enhanced. Read their privacy settings guide to know more.
The Onion Router is the brand standard for online privacy and anonymity worldwide. It is a modified Firefox browser with inbuilt privacy and security settings. You will find many security conscious people using this browser around the world. Some of its features include HTTPS Everywhere, NoScript, AntiTracking, WebGL blocking etc. Just with other browsers, these settings can be modified for more security. However, for the purposes of browser fingerprint anonymization, doing so is not recommended by experts.
Are There Other Methods of Browser Fingerprinting Anonymization?
Aside from diving deep into the world of cybersecurity as a hardcore enthusiast, the best way to anonymize yourself is through VPNs. Virtual Private Networks are a good way to handle all online tracking and surveillance tactics by Google, MSN, your ISP, and the government. Getting a reliable paid VPN is a great way that ensures you can browse the internet privately. Combining a VPN with a privacy-centric browser like Tor is especially beneficial provided you know how to configure them.
Now, when it comes to VPN, not all of them are cross-platform and browser compatible. Also, there might be specific services that you need the VPN for anyway. So, you need to look up the best premium VPNs for the service you need and configure them for your browser. For example, there are multi-hop VPNs now which will relay your connection across multiple servers. There are other specific techniques for enhanced security in the market as well. Choosing a reliable VPN is the best way to ensure that you are not being tracked online. Stay informed, stay vigilant, stay safe!