If you have been trying to create multiple social media accounts and have trouble, its probably because of ‘browser finger prints’. Even if you are using a VPN to create a new account, you need to use an entirely fresh browser.
Understanding browser fingerprinting is essential in the digital age, where privacy invasions are rampant. Each interaction with a website leaves a “fingerprint” that potentially strips users of their anonymity.
Below is an in-depth guide explaining each aspect of browser fingerprints and strategies to obscure or alter these identifiers, thereby enhancing your online privacy.
Explanation: The User-Agent string provides data about your browser type, operating system, and sometimes information about your device. Websites use this to determine how to best display a page for your system.
Masking: You can disguise your User-Agent by using browser extensions or tools that allow you to manually alter the User-Agent string, making your browser appear as a different browser or device.
Explanation: These headers are part of the HTTP protocol used by your browser to communicate with websites, indicating, among other things, your preferred language and types of content your browser can process.
Masking: Modifying HTTP_ACCEPT headers typically requires a browser extension or a privacy-focused browser that allows these values to be changed or randomized.
Explanation: These are additional programs integrated with your browser to provide extra functionality (like video playback). The combination of plugins and their versions can be unique to you.
Masking: Disable unnecessary plugins or use a browser that doesn’t support plugins. Some privacy browsers limit or generalize plugin data sent to websites to make your fingerprint less unique.
Platform (Operating System)
Explanation: Your operating system information can be detected by websites as part of your browser’s “User-Agent” string.
Masking: This information can be spoofed using a User-Agent changer, which can make your browser appear as though it’s operating on a different system.
Screen Resolution and Color Depth
Explanation: This information helps websites render properly on your screen. However, your screen resolution, especially when combined with other data, can be quite unique.
Masking: Using your operating system’s settings to alter your screen resolution can make this less unique, or some specialized privacy tools or extensions can randomize these values.
Explanation: Websites can determine your timezone from your system clock, providing clues about your geographical location.
Masking: VPN services can spoof your IP address, providing false timezone data to websites. Additionally, some browser extensions allow you to manually set a timezone.
Do Not Track
Explanation: This is a request your browser can send, signaling to websites that you prefer not to be tracked. However, honoring this request is entirely voluntary for websites.
Masking: Since few websites respect this setting, using more aggressive tools like tracker blockers alongside enabling “Do Not Track” is a more robust solution.
WebGL, Canvas, and Fonts
Explanation: These browser features help render websites and can be used in fingerprinting. For example, the Canvas API can be used to create unique, consistent drawings that are specific to your hardware.
Masking: Some browsers and extensions offer features to disable or randomize the output of these functions, making them less useful for fingerprinting.
Explanation: Cookies store site-specific data for various purposes, including tracking. How your browser handles cookies contributes to your fingerprint.
Masking: Setting your browser to block all third-party cookies helps, as does regularly clearing your cookies. Privacy-focused browsers offer enhanced cookie management features.
Explanation: These are more persistent forms of cookies, stored in multiple locations to evade regular deletion methods.
Masking: Regularly clearing your browser data, using privacy extensions that block or delete supercookies, and using browsers that don’t support these persistent storage methods can be effective.
Explanation: Your IP address is a unique number your internet service provider assigns to your connection, and it reveals your geographic location.
Masking: VPNs or Tor can hide your actual IP address behind another one.
ActiveX Support (primarily Internet Explorer)
Explanation: ActiveX is a type of interactive content supported by some browsers. Whether your browser supports ActiveX can be another point in your fingerprint.
Masking: Using a browser that doesn’t support ActiveX (most modern browsers) or disabling ActiveX controls can help obscure this point.
Explanation: Advanced scripts can determine other network information, like your internet speed, based on how quickly you download content.
Masking: It’s tough to mask this, but a VPN can add enough variability to your network speed, making this information less reliable for fingerprinting.
Explanation: Web Audio API offers a wide range of audio features, allowing complex audio processing. The way your browser processes audio can be unique.
Explanation: Mobile devices can provide data on how they’re being held or if they’re moving, adding more unique data points.
Masking: Disabling these sensors in your device settings, if possible, or using a browser that doesn’t support these APIs.
Explanation: WebRTC enables video chat, voice calling, and P2P sharing in the browser, but it can also reveal your IP address.
Masking: Using browser extensions or settings to disable WebRTC, or using VPNs that offer WebRTC leak prevention.
Explanation: This refers to the number of CPU processing cores, which can be detected through your browser for fingerprinting.
Masking: Some privacy browsers or extensions can spoof this information, reporting a different number of virtual cores.
Battery Status API
Explanation: This now-deprecated feature used to provide battery status information, which could be used for fingerprinting.
Masking: Most browsers have removed support for this API due to privacy concerns. Ensuring your browser is up-to-date should suffice.
Ad Blocker Detection
Explanation: Some sites can detect whether you’re using an ad blocker, contributing to your fingerprint.
Masking: You can use more stealthy ad blockers designed to be undetectable, or periodically switch them off and on to alter your fingerprint.
Explanation: This indicates if your device supports touch, and how many touch points it supports.
Masking: There’s little you can do to mask this, but because it’s less unique among users, it’s less of a concern for fingerprinting.
Explanation: If you have a webcam or microphone, this can be detected, sometimes even without asking for permission.
Masking: Disabling hardware access in your browser settings or using hardware switches to turn off these devices can prevent this detection.
To fully or partially hide these fingerprints, you may need a combination of multiple tools, settings adjustments, and practices. No single solution is a catch-all, and dedicated attackers or entities may still devise ways to track users who have taken even sophisticated precautions.
It’s also a balance, as more aggressive privacy techniques can break website functionality or draw attention to you for being different from most users. Thus, understanding these measures is the first step in a continual process of protecting your online privacy.
Browser Fingerprints FAQS
What is the difference between device fingerprint and browser fingerprint?
Device Fingerprint: A device fingerprint refers to the unique combination of software and hardware settings, configurations, and attributes of a specific electronic device. It can include information about the operating system, hardware specs, and unique device identifiers.
Browser Fingerprint: In contrast, a browser fingerprint is specific to the web browser on a device. It includes data points like the browser type and version, installed plugins, time zone, screen resolution, and even specific browser settings. While related, a browser fingerprint is just one aspect of the broader device fingerprint.
How do I get around browser fingerprinting?
To mitigate browser fingerprinting, consider using privacy-focused browsers or extensions that specifically address fingerprinting. These tools work by blocking or randomizing the data that your browser sends to websites, making it harder to track or identify you. Additionally, regularly clearing cookies and browser cache, using VPNs to mask your IP address, and disabling unnecessary browser plugins can help reduce the distinctiveness of your browser fingerprint.
We recommend using dedicated antidetect browers, especially if you need to create multiple social media accounts.
Why is browser fingerprinting used?
Browser fingerprinting is primarily used for online tracking and identification purposes. Advertisers and websites use it to track user behavior, deliver personalized ads, and improve website analytics. It is also employed for security purposes, like fraud detection, where unusual changes in a browser fingerprint can indicate potentially unauthorized account access.
Does Google do browser fingerprinting?
Yes, Google employs browser fingerprinting techniques, primarily for advertising, analytics, and security purposes. Google’s vast ecosystem of services, including its search engine, Google Ads, and Google Analytics, uses various forms of tracking, including browser fingerprinting, to gather data on user behavior, preferences, and to detect suspicious activities.
Is browser fingerprinting GDPR compliant?
Browser fingerprinting can be GDPR compliant, but it largely depends on how the data is collected, processed, and stored. Under GDPR, any form of personal data collection requires user consent, and the data must be handled according to GDPR principles. This means companies using browser fingerprinting must inform users, obtain their consent, and provide options to opt-out. They must also ensure data security and user privacy as mandated by GDPR.
Where are browser fingerprints stored?
Browser fingerprints are not stored on the user’s device like cookies. Instead, they are typically compiled and stored on servers maintained by the entity performing the fingerprinting, such as advertisers, analytics services, or websites. Each time you visit a site, your browser sends information that can be used to reconstruct your fingerprint on the server side.
How does browser fingerprinting compromise privacy?
Browser fingerprinting compromises privacy by allowing entities to track and profile users without their explicit consent. Unlike cookies, which can be blocked or deleted, browser fingerprints are more covert and difficult to evade. This tracking can create detailed profiles of online behavior, preferences, and even infer personal details, all of which can be used for targeted advertising, potentially unwanted personalized content, or in more nefarious cases, by cybercriminals for identity theft or fraud.