‹ Back to the blog listPrevent Browser Fingerprinting

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Did you know that you can be recognized online even when you use Private Browsing, and even if you have ad-blockers? 

That recognition means that sites can track you despite your explicit wish to the contrary.

 

How?

Upon request from a website, your browser will send details about the resources it has available, such as what fonts are installed, which plug-ins are present, the screen size and color depth, various forms of cookies, the operating system and browser type and revision, and much more.

Individually each of these things is meaningless, but because there are so many different ways a browser can be configured just through normal operation, when taken all together the pattern for each device turns out to be nearly unique.

Numerous websites routinely make these requests silently; you are given no indication that it's happening.  

This is especially important when you use search engines such as Bing or Google because it enables them to correlate the sites you visit with the accounts you create, thus building a remarkably accurate picture of your browsing history and personal interests regardless of whether you're using private browsing.

 

See it in action

The Electronic Frontier Foundation1 has created a very useful tool you can use to see this in action for yourself.

https://panopticlick.eff.org/

It takes several seconds to run, and then gives you a summary report with optional details about your browser's fingerprint, and thereby about how easily identifiable you become as you move from website to website.  

 

What can I do about it?

It's simple, just install Privacy Badger (versions available for most browsers). If you use Firefox, you can get extra protection by also installing NoScript.

Somethimes these add-ins can be a little too conservative, so occasionally they're a bit of a pain, but overall the privacy they offer is really worth it. Run Panopticlick again after you install them and see the difference for yourself.  

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1. MetaLuminous is a proud supporter of EFF.

Published on 2016-10-13 by:
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DavidM
Analyst

Grasp the meaning not just the data.