Have you ever heard of browser fingerprinting? It’s okay if you haven’t, since almost nobody else has ever heard of it, either.
Browser fingerprinting is an incredibly accurate method of identifying unique browsers and tracking online activity.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to wipe all of your fingerprints from the internet. But first, let’s start by exploring what, exactly, browser fingerprinting is.
Browser Fingerprinting: What Is It?
Browser fingerprinting is defined on Wikipedia as follows:
“A device fingerprint, machine fingerprint or browser fingerprint is information collected about a remote computing device for the purpose of identification. Fingerprints can be used to fully or partially identify individual users or devices even when cookies are turned off.”
That means that, when you connect to the internet on your laptop or smartphone, your device will hand over a bunch of specific data to the receiving server about the websites you visit.
Browser fingerprinting is a powerful method that websites use to collect information about your browser type and version, as well as your operating system, active plugins, timezone, language, screen resolution and various other active settings.
These data points might seem generic at first and don’t necessarily look tailored to identify one specific person. However, there’s a significantly small chance for another user to have 100% matching browser information. Panopticlick found that only 1 in 286,777 other browsers will share the same fingerprint as another user.
Websites use the information provided by browsers to identify unique users and track their online behavior. This process is therefore called “browser fingerprinting.”