What Is Browser Fingerprinting?

Reading time: 8 min read
Muninder Adavelli
Written by
Muninder Adavelli

Updated · Sep 06, 2023

Muninder Adavelli
Digital Growth Strategist | Joined October 2021 | Twitter LinkedIn
Muninder Adavelli

Muninder Adavelli is a core team member and Digital Growth Strategist at Techjury. With a strong bac... | See full bio

April Grace Asgapo
Edited by
April Grace Asgapo


April Grace Asgapo
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
April Grace Asgapo

April is a proficient content writer with a knack for research and communication. With a keen eye fo... | See full bio

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In 2021, people generated over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily. Websites can use an immense amount of data on your web browser and device every day for various reasons. To collect that data, they use a technique called browser fingerprinting.

If you’re trying to stay anonymous online, browser fingerprinting can make this challenging. Your browser fingerprint lets advertisers locate specific customer groups and banks to identify botnet characteristics that could detect fraudsters and suspicious activities.

In this article, learn what browser fingerprinting is and how to avoid it. 

🔑 Key Takeaways:

  • Browsing fingerprinting is a technology that tracks and collects users' device settings and online activity information.
  • It can help secure the user's account if used appropriately. If used negatively, it can lead to tracking user's online activities and selling the data to data brokers.
  • There are many uses for browsing fingerprinting, which include marketing tools, protection from malicious bots, and potential fraud. 
  • Information collected from browser fingerprinting is considered public. That is why some people oppose browsing fingerprinting due to privacy concerns.
  • Users should always be cautious in their online activity to secure their privacy and stop being a target of browser fingerprinting.

Understanding Browser Fingerprinting

Almost 307 million people in the United States use the Internet. This means that most of these people have had their browser fingerprints collected. 

Browser fingerprinting describes the tracking technology used when browsers discreetly collect your device’s hardware and software settings to create your digital fingerprint.

This way, they can build a unique identity or ‘fingerprint’ of you. Just as your physical fingerprint is composed of unique skin ridges, your browser fingerprint uniquely identifies you using your device's attributes.

How Does Browser Fingerprinting Work?

Browser fingerprinting is often dubbed as the new form of cookies. If you’re unfamiliar with cookies, it’s the small files that websites you visit send to your browser, like your login details, language preferences, and search history.

Cookies help your browser remember information about your visit. If you delete that cookie, browsers cannot know who you are. 

🔓 Security Note: 

A cyber threat known as Cookie Theftis when hackers steal your browser cookie. They use the cookies to spy on your online activities and gain access to your personal information. 

Hackers use the stolen data for phishing, which can cause financial damages such as unauthorized purchases or stealing funds. You should regularly delete your cookie to avoid becoming a victim.

In browser fingerprinting, a part of the Javascript code collects essential data required for the connection. 

The following data makes up a browser fingerprint:

  • IP address
  • Browser
  • Device model
  • Operating system details
  • GPU and CPU
  • Browser and extensions
  • Use of an ad blocker
  • Your time zones
  • Battery
  • Supported languages
  • Installed fonts
  • Screen size and resolution
  • Plugins and extensions
  • Whether you have enabled cookies

These data points make up the browser fingerprint of a specific user. A hash is then assigned to make each fingerprint anonymous. 

These details might not seem revealing, but when you collect enough specific data points, it’s easier to create a unique profile on any user and use that to follow them across the web.

Like cookies, browser fingerprinting is a form of user tracking. It’s an investigative technique for websites to associate a browsing session with one site visitor accurately.

While browser fingerprinting can help secure a user’s account, others can use it to track the user's activity and sell data to data brokers. 

Uses of Browser Fingerprints

Many browsers use browser fingerprinting to maximize the user experience. These fingerprinting methods also aim to keep the users’ accounts secure.

Here are the instances when to use browser fingerprinting:

1. Marketers use browser fingerprinting to identify and track user activity. Have you ever wondered why e-commerce sites recommend locally relevant content and nearby stores?

When a global tour company learns from your online activity that you have booked a holiday to the United Kingdom, it will know to spam you with advertising that promotes its United Kingdom tours. Life and health insurers also tracked your health-related searches to use it as a basis for premiums.

With browser fingerprint technology, websites may access your current location and the type of device you use, such as a tablet, desktop, or mobile phone.

2. Websites use browser fingerprinting to protect themselves from malicious bots. The browser fingerprinting technology can distinguish web bot traffic from regular browser traffic. 

It detects web bots based on a fingerprint comparison by gathering the fingerprint of a suspicious browser and comparing it to regular browsers.

3. Banks use browser fingerprinting to identify potential fraud cases. If there’s any suspicious activity on your account, your bank’s security system should be able to analyze it with browser fingerprinting.

🎉 Fun Fact: 

Speaking of fraud, California lost more than $20 billion due to fraud in 2022.

Browser fingerprinting helps banks identify if your account is being logged in from multiple locations in a short amount of time.

There are many ways to collect browser fingerprints. This is why privacy issues are common regarding browser fingerprinting. 

Methods used for fingerprint tracking

Browser fingerprinting happens with many data points. Websites collect information about your device using different methods and techniques. Look at the five most commonly used ways and see what they collect.

1. HTML5 Canvas

HTML5 is a coding language used in building most websites. Websites using HTML5 contain the "canvas" element that forces the browser to draw a hidden canvas image during a site visit. 

This image generates the needed information to create a unique user fingerprint. It can identify variances in a user's GPU, graphics card, or graphics drivers.

Canvas fingerprinting is the newest method to obtain browser information.

2. Javascript and Flash

Websites use scripts with JavaScript when you visit them to gather information about your device and correctly display content in your browser. 

Javascript improves your browsing experience. Flash does, too, but for old websites. The Adobe Flash plugin on your browser can provide information like your time zone and screen resolution.

💡Did You Know?

Javascript is extremely popular, whereas 98.7% of websites worldwide rely on it as a client-side programming language. It is also among the top 3 programming languages, trailing Java and Python. 

3. Device Fingerprinting

The device fingerprinting technique is similar to browser fingerprinting, but a device fingerprint stores data about your device, not your browser. 

It involves information such as: 

  • Device's time zone
  • Hardware specifications
  • Serial numbers for Android
  • MAC addresses

4. WebGL Fingerprinting

The Web Graphics Library (WebGL) is a JavaScript Application Programming Interface (API) that renders 3D graphics and on-screen images.

It forces browsers to render an image or text to expose information about a device’s graphics drivers and screen resolution. A WebGL fingerprint detects the graphics card model, screen resolution, and more.

5. Audio Fingerprinting

Audio fingerprinting can identify a user based on their devices' audio signals, including sound hardware and software. It has the same approach as the canvas element and WebGL fingerprinting but focuses on audio-related data.

Audio fingerprinting detects values such as the AudioBuffer, DynamicsCompressor value, and more to help identify users.

Avoiding Browser Fingerprinting

Browser Fingerprinting is a powerful method of user tracking. It isn’t illegal, as all the information collected is considered public. However, some privacy advocates have opposed it and raised concerns.

Strict rules were also imposed by the General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) to protect online privacy, but it’s much more focused on cookies. 

The proposed ePrivacy Regulation is supposed to address browser fingerprinting, but it hasn’t come into effect as it’s still in the process. 

You can try these ways to avoid browser fingerprinting:

1. Lower your browser’s uniqueness

Picking a standard and common browser is an effective way to avoid fingerprinting. When you connect to a website, your device sends an HTTP header-encoded connection request to the webserver to disable the content.

Those requests contain device-specific information like your browser name, version, time zone, and other properties. Lowering your browser's uniqueness will help you avoid being easily identified by websites.

2. Use privacy-focused browsers

Browsers like Firefox, Brave, or Tor effectively defend against fingerprinting.

Firefox blocks third-party requests from websites, preventing unwanted tracking. Brave makes your device appear different from a fingerprinting tool whenever it visits a website. Tor makes each user’s browser fingerprint the same, providing anonymity.

Your browser's incognito mode will also reduce the amount of information shared.

👍 Helpful Article:

There are many browsers that you can choose from. To help you decide which offers the best security feature. Read Techjury’s article about the top web browsers for the year 2023. 

3. Use anti-malware software

Anti-malware software can prevent harmful scripts, ads, malware, or spyware directly linked to a browser’s fingerprint. It also improves your devices’ overall security.

Choose a powerful software that can scan the whole system and detect any downloaded files containing scripts.

Wrapping Up

We can safely assume that whenever we log in to anything online, someone tracks us. Websites not only collect our IP address but also many other data points. While browser fingerprinting isn’t regulated yet, it’s up to your efforts to make it harder for companies to fingerprint you. 

Though there isn’t much you can do to stop those websites completely, we highly recommend smartly using our anti-browser fingerprinting tips discussed in this article to tighten your privacy and stop being a target of browser fingerprinting.


What is the most common browser fingerprint?

Canvas fingerprinting is the most common and popular technique for browser fingerprinting.

What data does browser fingerprinting collect?

Browser fingerprinting gathers hardware, software, and device settings through your browser when you are online. It can include your time zone, pixel ratio, plugins, CPU class, and more.

How accurate is browser fingerprinting?

Browser fingerprinting is an accurate way to identify unique users and track online activity. In a study that collected 3,615 fingerprints, browser fingerprinting had a 99.2% success rate.


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