A new technique has been introduced by researchers through which websites can track users who use more than one browser to surf the internet. The primary reason behind people using different browsers is to bypass being identified by digital fingerprints by the websites. Cyber experts say that with the development of this strategy, anonymous browsing might come to an end.
The Use of Digital Signature
The technique of using different browsers has been used for a very long time by web surfers, as it prevents websites from accessing their digital signatures. Surprisingly, this technique has proved to be very effective. Web surfers have taken the step to hide their digital fingerprints because once a website accesses your signature; it can track your entire web activity and internet usage.
Ways to Counter Anonymous Browsing
Different websites have derived ways to counter this trick through monitoring the keyboard activity of people and the patterns through which different people type. Websites have also tried to implement imperceptible sound in different advertisements online.
With the rise of this issue, researchers have developed a technique which will allow websites to monitor the activity of users on different web browsers at the same time. This technique is more efficient and accurate than tracking the ‘digital signature’ as it will allow websites to identify individuals who use more than one web browser.
The application was tested as researchers gathered 3,615 fingerprints from 1,903 users in a period of three months. The application successfully recognized 99.2% of users.
Chief technology officer at UK cyber security firm Hook.ee, Alex Walker told that even though the percentage of users who frequently change their browsers is certainly less, the development of this technique will negatively affect the privacy of every user in the future. He said:
“It’s definitely harder now to protect yourself. Yyou may have multiple browsers, but not multiple machines. This will be a goldmine for sites that rely on targeted advertising — I believe Amazon make 30 percent of their sales based on recommendations — and with 99% accuracy, it’ll increase advertising revenue a tiny bit. It also shifts the cost of advertising to the consumer — using a digital fingerprint, they can get your computer to perform a variety of tasks, each one costing battery power, and therefore electricity”
While discussing the reach of the application, Walker said that this technique is unbeatable, no matter how much browsers a person uses. Furthermore, he said that individuals who use the Tor browser will also be unsafe from the technique as it is highly efficient. He stated:
“If a user hits targeted advertising while using Tor, then change to their normal browser, that advertiser could know that it was the same person — that’s not so cool”
EU’s regulator group wrote in statement:
“Parties who wish to process device fingerprints generated through the gaining of access to, or the storing of, information on the user’s terminal device must first obtain the valid consent of the user”
The executive director of the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock said that storing data about users in order to deliver personalized content and ads to them is totally legal as it follows the e-privacy and data protection laws.