Search


  • Categories


  • Archives

    « Home

    PC World: Browser Fingerprints: A Big Privacy Threat

    PC World reports on a new type of online tracking for targeted behavioral advertising, browser fingerprints:

    The method pulls together innocuous data about your browser, such as plug-ins, system fonts, and your operating system. Alone, they don’t identify you. Together, they’re a digital fingerprint.

    It’s like describing a person. Just saying “brown hair” won’t identify anyone. But add in “5 feet, 10 inches tall,” “chipped right front tooth,” “size 12 shoes,” and so on, and soon you have enough information to pull someone out of a crowd, even without their name, Social Security number, or any other of the usual identifiers.

    Test your browser for unique identifiers without the risk: The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group, has set up an interesting online experiment at Panopticlick.eff.org. Panopticlick gathers little de tails about your browser and computer, mostly using Javascript. In my case, the information it gathered about my browser was enough to uniquely identify my surfing software out of more than 650,000 visitors. […]

    Browser fingerprinting was developed for banks to employ to prevent fraud. But now one company, Scout Analytics, offers it as a service to Web sites, and it collects not just browser data but also data about how you type–things like your typing speed and typing patterns.

    This biometric signature, like the identifiers collected from the browser and the computer, can be gathered using JavaScript alone, making this form of tracking hard to block. Matt Shanahan, senior vice president of strategy at Scout Analytics, says that the company sells its service primarily to paid subscription sites, such as those offering real estate listings, and that it is keen to expand into marketing and advertising by helping sites track visitors in a way that, as he notes, is more accurate than using cookies. (Cookies can be deleted, which makes a repeat visit look like a new person to the site.) […]

    In the arms race between online ad vertisers and Web surfers, this new technology could be a pretty big gun.

    One Response to “PC World: Browser Fingerprints: A Big Privacy Threat”

    1. Joe Says:

      Privacy is very important use a good browser

    Leave a Reply