Imagine you want to identify a person in a crowd. It isn’t hard to do, as long as you have specific attributes and other defining features about them. The same applies to identifying internet users with browser device fingerprinting, which has become a popular technique used by online tracking companies to reliably identify and track visitors across websites.
A user’s web browser device fingerprinting settings and plugins, screen size and color depth, installed fonts, device IP address, operating system version, and more, all contribute to a unique digital fingerprint that is used by fingerprinting scripts to uniquely identify a browser or device from a large population of internet users. This information is also combined with other sources like cookies, IP addresses, and geolocation data to create a profile that can be linked back to the device and used for tracking purposes.
Demystifying Browser Device Fingerprinting: What You Need to Know
Fingerprinting can be a useful tool for fraud prevention, as it is able to detect and remove duplicate accounts and track user behavior in real time. Unlike traditional methods, fingerprinting can look beyond a user’s unique IP address or browser to find patterns of fraud, including duplicate accounts and fraudulent payments that are difficult for other tools to detect.
Several ways to limit fingerprinting include using privacy-focused browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox with the Privacy Badger extension or Brave browser. These browsers hide or obscure some of the information that can be used for fingerprinting, but they still allow websites to function properly. Another option is to use a virtual private network (VPN) which can mask the user’s IP address and encrypt their internet connection, making it more difficult for websites to detect their location and identify their devices.