[LINK] Web Browsers Leave 'Fingerprints' Behind as You Surf the Net

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Tue May 18 10:28:04 AEST 2010


> Web Browsers Leave 'Fingerprints' Behind as You Surf the NetEFF  
> Research Shows More Than 8 in 10 Browsers Have Unique, Trackable  
> Signatures
> San Francisco - New research by the Electronic Frontier Foundation  
> (EFF) has found that an overwhelming majority of web browsers have  
> unique signatures -- creating identifiable "fingerprints" that could  
> be used to track you as you surf the Internet.
> The findings were the result of an experiment EFF conducted with  
> volunteers who visited http://panopticlick.eff.org/. The website  
> anonymously logged the configuration and version information from  
> each participant's operating system, browser, and browser plug-ins  
> -- information that websites routinely access each time you visit --  
> and compared that information to a database of configurations  
> collected from almost a million other visitors. EFF found that 84%  
> of the configuration combinations were unique and identifiable,  
> creating unique and identifiable browser "fingerprints." Browsers  
> with Adobe Flash or Java plug-ins installed were 94% unique and  
> trackable.
> "We took measures to keep participants in our experiment anonymous,  
> but most sites don't do that," said EFF Senior Staff Technologist  
> Peter Eckersley.
> "In fact, several companies are already selling products that claim  
> to use browser fingerprinting to help websites identify users and  
> their online activities.
> This experiment is an important reality check, showing just how  
> powerful these tracking mechanisms are."
> EFF found that some browsers were less likely to contain unique  
> configurations, including those that block JavaScript, and some  
> browser plug-ins may be able to be configured to limit the  
> information your browser shares with the websites you visit. But  
> overall, it is very difficult to reconfigure your browser to make it  
> less identifiable. The best solution for web users may be to insist  
> that new privacy protections be built into the browsers themselves.
> "Browser fingerprinting is a powerful technique, and fingerprints  
> must be considered alongside cookies and IP addresses when we  
> discuss web privacy and user trackability," said Eckersley. "We hope  
> that browser developers will work to reduce these privacy risks in  
> future versions of their code."

Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
T: +61 2 61402408  M: +61 404072753
mailto:kim at holburn.net  aim://kimholburn
skype://kholburn - PGP Public Key on request

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