Browser fingerprinting was invented to help keep our online data safe, but in many cases, it does the exact opposite. Here, we take a deep dive into this covert online tracking technique
Online user privacy has been a much-discussed topic in recent years, with a slew of news stories revealing the misuse of sensitive data by some of the biggest names in the tech business.
The result has been an almost universal rejection of the third-party cookie, which to date has been the most prevalent online tracking tool. However, the third-party cookie is not the only way to track a user’s online behavior.
In this article, we explore browser fingerprinting, which is an accurate form of online tracking that is highly evasive, difficult to trace, and, as yet, unregulated.
What is browser fingerprinting?
Browser fingerprinting is a term used to describe the act of discreetly gathering software and device settings data through an internet user’s browser when they’re online. This combination of settings is then used to build a unique identity – or ‘fingerprint’ – for that individual. It’s also sometimes referred to as ‘device fingerprinting’ or simply ‘fingerprinting’.
How does browser fingerprinting work?
Every time you visit a website, your browser has to provide the hosting server with a certain amount of essential information to ensure the website works properly for your individual machine.
These pieces of information could include device model and spec, language and keyboard layout, location, time zone, installed hardware, software versions, and much more.
Individually, these settings and configurations might seem innocuous – and they are. But when put together, they can create a