Everyone wants to remain anonymous over the web, but complete anonymity is like a dream. While you browse, you’re always being tracked and monitored and this is because of browser fingerprinting. But what is browser fingerprinting and what does it do? It is a sneaky technique that allows websites and services to collect information about you. The information includes your browser, location, language, and other details by using scripts for identification purposes.
While it may be beneficial for marketers, browser fingerprints violate users’ online privacy as trackers and ads might not just disrupt you but also gather sensitive information about your online activities. The scripts work in the background of every website or service you visit and track you via cookies, devices, canvas, and audio fingerprinting. The collected data can be sold to third parties that can use it against you and breaches your digital privacy.
How does Browser Fingerprinting work
The browser fingerprinting technique uses scripts that gather information, including browser details, plugins, device specifications, operating system used, timezone, and more. All the collected data is then compiled into a unique digital fingerprint used to identify the user.
But now, many websites have been sharing this functionality to launch cross-site tracking. This method uses your fingerprints to collect other sensitive details related to your browsing and search details. Here browser fingerprinting proves as a privacy invader and needs to be prevented.
5 effective Methods to Hide Browser Fingerprinting
Browser fingerprinting is a problem for anyone who wants to maintain privacy. Fortunately, there are a few tested methods that you can trust and use to hide browser fingerprinting. Below is an insight into these methods so, let’s get started with it:
1. Use the best Secure Browsers
The mainstream browsers work like a data collection tool and violate your digital privacy. They gather information by tracking your online activities and later sell it to advertising companies or third parties to earn revenue. If you want to enjoy an anonymous web browsing experience, you should start using secure web browsers. These browsers ensure robust browser security and allow you to surf the web by wiping out intrusive ads, cookies, and trackers and protecting against malware. Moreover, they do come with features that prevent browser fingerprinting and crypto mining attempts.
Some of the best private browsers are as follows:
The Tor or the Onion router is an impressive private browser that allows users to surf the web without revealing their true identity. By providing layered encryption, it changes your IP address and ensures that no one can track you back. It automatically protects against browser fingerprinting and guarantees a safe and secure browsing experience.
It allows the users to browse in private mode by default and erases all browsing data after every session. Also, it uses various browser extensions like HTTPS Everywhere and NoScript to enhance your online security.
Mozilla Firefox is yet another best private browsers that hide browser fingerprinting. It comes with the Enhanced Tracking Protection feature, and by enabling this feature from the settings menu, you can prevent browser fingerprinting attempts. Moreover, it is a safe and reliable browser that has offered users the best online protection for the last 13 years.
It also uses the private browsing mode, which automatically deletes all your cookies and other browser details. It also offers an ad-blocker extension which ensures that by no means can anyone track you. Besides this, the most impressive feature of Mozilla Firefox is the content blocking feature that prevents browser fingerprinting and makes you private over the web.
Another best private browser for preventing browser fingerprinting is the Brave browser. It is an open-sourced chromium-based browser that uses a private browsing mode to block fingerprinting scripting attempts.
Besides this, the browser offers a range of security and privacy boosting features such as WebRTC leak protection, sandboxing, and brave shield features that enhance your web browsing experience. It also uses HTTPS Everywhere and a script blocker to prevent online tracking and keeps your data secured from snooping eyes.
2. Data Encryption
Another effective method to prevent browser fingerprinting is using a data encryption tool, i.e., a VPN, and maximizing your online privacy. A VPN is the perfect privacy-boosting tool that masks your IP address and encrypts the data traffic and takes your privacy to the next level. By using a VPN, you can browse the web anonymously and even get rid of online tracking and surveillance. A reliable VPN provider ensures that no one can ever detect who you’re and what you are doing over the web.
But unfortunately, a VPN doesn’t provide direct protection against browser fingerprinting. It is because your browser produces unique browser fingerprints that a VPN fails to block. But you can use it along with a secure browser or any browser extension to safeguard your online privacy and security.
Ensure that you choose a reliable and private VPN to use and it should offer a range of privacy and security boosting features like a double VPN and WebRTC leak protection for providing more anonymity over the web.
4. Use Extensions and Plugins
Now browsers support various extensions and plugins that help to avoid browser fingerprinting. You need to install these plugins and extensions, and they will automatically generate different attributes of your fingerprints. Some of the most popular include Chameleon and CanvasBlocker. They block the APIs and websites used for fingerprinting attempts and allow you to retain more anonymity over the web.
5. Use Incognito Mode
Another less effective way to prevent browser fingerprinting is to browse in private or incognito mode. When you browse in private mode, the browser won’t gather your unique fingerprints or track you via cookies. But since it doesn’t hide your IP address, it can be easy for spying eyes to track you. But you can always use a trusted secure VPN provider and reduce this risk.
What is Browser Fingerprinting used for
Because of online tracking, advertisers can also learn about your online behavior. They can know about your likes, dislikes, location history, preferences, and other sensitive data. They can use this information against you without your consent and target you with ads. Moreover, a study reveals that websites can know about your browser and operating system because of browser fingerprinting. It gives threat actors an easy chance to learn about it and infect it with vulnerabilities.
Hence, you should do something to prevent browser fingerprinting.
How to test Browser for Fingerprinting
Fortunately, with technological advancement, now you can even test if the browser you’re using is tracking you or not. If you also want to check your browser’s reliability, then you can run a test by using the tools mentioned below:
The EFF is now offering a fantastic browser testing tool that allows you to know your browsers’ credibility. To perform a test, all you need to do is tap on the ”Test Me” button and wait until the analyzing phase is completed. It will analyze your browser based on ads, trackers, third-party trackers, and unique identity. The test results will show you five points that give a brief overview of the test result and a full test report highlighting if there are any vulnerabilities in your browser or not.
Both tools are reliable and secure to use. You can use any of them to test your browser’s credibility and how it is maintaining your digital privacy.
How does a VPN Help to Prevent Browser Fingerprinting
A VPN is an excellent tool to boost your online privacy and security. It allows you to change your IP address and encrypt the data traffic, making it difficult for anyone to monitor or track your online activities. With a VPN, you can enjoy complete anonymity over the web along with some other excellent benefits, like accessing geo-blocked content, downloading torrents, playing games, and more.
It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use a VPN; as a VPN provides a data encryption feature, you can’t ignore it. You can always use a secure browser combined with the best secure VPN providers to avoid browser fingerprinting. These browsers can prevent tracking and block pop-up ads and cookies while a VPN conceals your online identity and encrypts the data traffic which strengthens your online privacy.
How to Prevent Firefox from Browser Fingerprinting
Despite being harmful to your online privacy, browser fingerprinting has increased in the past. With this technique, you can get tracked for a long time, even if you have deleted cookies and might not know about them. To prevent tracking, you should take some measures, such as using secure browsers like Firefox.
If you use Firefox, you shouldn’t worry about browser fingerprinting because the latest release of the Firefox browser rolls out an impressive Fingerprint Blocker feature. This feature blocks out the third parties requests that are involved in tracking your online behavior. To enable this feature, follow the steps mentioned below:
- Open your Firefox browser and tap on the Settings menu.
- Tap on Preferences > Click on Privacy & Security.
- Click to expand the Standard option under Enhanced Tracking Protection. You can now see the fingerprints listed there.
- Enable the Tracking Protection feature, and that’s it.
You can now browse the web through Firefox without being tracked. Just make sure that you update your browser timely to give you access to the fingerprint blocker feature.
Does Google Tracks Us?
Despite being a popular search engine, Google is the worst offender of your online privacy. It tracks, records, and then shares your browsing data with advertising companies that target you with personalized and intrusive pop-up ads. Google keeps a track record of all your activities, including your likes, dislikes, websites visited, and preferences.
Besides this, Google even tracks you via its services. For example, if you use Google Maps, it tracks your location and even stores it on its servers. The company claims that they give users a personalized experience, but it violates the individual right to internet privacy.
How do I make My Browser Fingerprint Less unique
Experts suggest that you perform a Panopticlick test as it reveals whether the browser you use blocks various elements like ads, trackers, whitelisted trackers, and other things that make the fingerprint unique. Once you know that your browser fingerprints are unique, you can install various browser extensions like Privacy Badger or the best ad-blockers that can prevent you from intrusive ads and trackers and help make your browser fingerprints less unique.
Does Google Chrome Block Fingerprinting?
Although Google Chrome is a popular web browser with a 64.19% market share, it still fails to provide any privacy settings that can make it harder to prevent fingerprinting. But you can block third-party cookies manually each time you close the browser. Moreover, Chrome also runs a trial of Google’s Privacy Sandbox that helps prevent fingerprinting by hiding the hardware and software information from the features.
The bottom line
Browser fingerprinting is yet another serious threat to your online privacy. It is a complex issue and makes maintaining digital privacy a daunting task. But you can make some efforts to reduce the risks posed by browser fingerprinting. With the best options mentioned above, you can prevent browser fingerprinting and enjoy browsing the web with complete anonymity. So, do consider the methods discussed above and boost your privacy over the web.
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About the Author
Waqas is a cybersecurity journalist and writer who has a knack for writing technology and online privacy-focused articles. He strives to help achieve a secure online environment and is skilled in writing topics related to cybersecurity, AI, DevOps, Cloud security, and a lot more. As seen in: Computer.org, Nordic APIs, Infosecinstitute.com, Tripwire.com, and VentureBeat.More from Iam Waqas
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