In this article, we’d like to discuss online privacy. With the tremendous development of gadgets, increased Internet connection speeds, and online life in all its manifestations, anonymity on the web has gained more attention than ever before.
Everyone of us may be easily tracked despite experience and all routine precautions taken. Browser Fingerprint is that guiding star for those collecting web data. That’s why this discussion will be equally useful for professionals who earn money through the web and regular folks who use the Internet and the simplest protective tools (proxies and VPNs) in everyday life.
Fingerprint – What Is It?
The fingerprint is a complete digital fingerprint of a device that is composed of all the available information about your active browsers, settings, operating system, installed plugins and more. All these splinters of information are collected into a unique code by which just your computer or mobile device can be identified. This is your browser fingerprint.
Many may think that fingerprints are just another name of cookies. However, there are a couple of crucial differences. Cookies refer to one domain and are closely connected within its borders. Fingerprints serve as trackers for all your referrals to sites and stay relevant within multiple connections (domains).
Besides, browsers allow for clearing cookies with the press of one button (or you can totally prohibit cookies). But it’s impossible to clear fingerprints. All we can do is replace, hide or spoof them to prevent quick identification.
How to Protect Yourself against Fingerprint Identification?
Surprisingly, there is no sense in hiding your browser fingerprints. Suppose you hide all the information about the system, it will give the opposite result and only focus extra attention on you because the digital fingerprints will become too unique and will be too striking compared to other users.
Spying and monitoring programs detect such peculiarities, test browser fingerprint anomalies, and find them suspicious. So hiding only helps determine how much your digital fingerprint stands out from the total number of users.
Therefore, experts recommend masking information about the browser and the system under common configurations with the use of special utilities.
Best Ways of Protection
1) VPNs and Proxies
Almost everybody knows about VPNs and proxies these days; so we’ll only touch upon the main points.
A VPN is the most popular and effortless method to mask oneself and bypass net bans. A VPN server provides you with a free (and strange) IP that replaces your original address. And a proxy is something like a spacer that spoofs your traffic. In both cases, we note no encryption.
Since IP is one of the fundamental characteristics of complete fingerprints, VPN and proxies may help a lot. For better protection with such tools, we recommend choosing paid VPN services that support multi-channel connection.
But please remember that VPNs and proxies don’t protect against multiple trackers and don’t affect cookies that have already been picked up. Consequently, this protection method has some weak points.
Many browsers were initially developed with browser fingerprinting prevention in mind. This is especially true for major names such as Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.
By the way, user reviews state the last is the most reliable since it supports numerous protective plugins like User-Agent Switcher (to replace the browser identification), Ghoster (to block analytics trackers, ads and other beacons), Multiloginapp (to directly replace net prints and separate fingerprints, cookies ,and history in one browser profile from another) and more.
When it comes to browsers as preventive tools, we cannot avoid mentioning the so-called Antidetect browsers. They are specially developed for anonymous web surfing.
Antidetects are literally twins of common browsers but with more advanced settings. Systems automatically hide all the components of your browser fingerprints, spoof data, and leave the minimum amount of traces. The only con is that they’re paid and quite expensive. On the other hand, you get simple, intuitive navigation, the opportunity to visit all sites (with any entrance protection), and the ability to run with multiple accounts.
3) Manual Protection
If you have some skills and knowledge in the field, it’s not obligatory to always rely on third parties. Manual setting changes can mask your digital fingerprint and make them look less unique. You only need to periodically:
- Set a new time zone
- Install a new language for the operating system you’re using
- Install a new browser language
- Change the screen resolution
- Change the scale of a web page
- Install or remove browser plugins
The method is drastic but quite efficient. However, most people will find the process too inconvenient for everyday surfing.
4) Dedicated Servers
If you have in-depth tech knowledge in this field, you can also consider the use of dedicated servers as a way of maintaining your anonymity on the Internet. The method is efficient despite significant restrictions.
Dedicated servers are separate machines from which no data can be transmitted to your personal/work (let’s say any other) computer. Dedicated servers have never been exposed on the web as yet. They operate 24/7. Finally, you can be sure they will not pass on information about you, your actions, and the characteristics of your computer.
But the cons are pretty obvious too. Separate servers require relatively great investments and thorough technical knowledge for correct configuration.
Let us also mention a couple of tips for self-protection. Experts recommend:
- Using extensions that block the HTML5 Canvas element
- Activating the list of trusted sites on which the HTML5 Canvas element is allowed to run
- Clearing all saved ETags along with the browser cache (ETag or Entity Tag is a unique identifier that is passed in HTTP headers and is stored in the browser cache along with images and other files)
- Using the browser’s private browsing mode
In our opinion, every individual should have the right to Internet privacy and security, as long as it is not their intention to break the law in a manner that harms someone. There is nothing easier than to track a person on the web and learn everything about their life and work. And fingerprints give away even the smallest action in the blink of an eye.
So use any of the above methods that suit you to stay secure and protected on the Internet!