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Most browsers leave fingerprint that can ID users | the register

Posted on 05/17/2010 5:54:30 PM PDT by Gomez

The vast majority of people surfing the web leave behind digital fingerprints that can be used to uniquely identify them, research released Monday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation suggests.

Using a website that compares visitors' browser configurations to a database of almost 1 million other users, EFF researchers found that 84 percent of visitors used setting combinations that were unique. When The Register visited the site using Firefox, it received a message that read: "Your browser fingerprint appears to be unique among the 837,411 tested so far." (Turning off javascript and Java with the NoScript plugin didn't change the results we got on one test PC, but on a second machine, use of NoScript significantly increased the number of browsers with the same fingerprint.)

EFF said that its logs are anonymized, but there's nothing stopping the organization - or indeed, any website in the world - from constructing a database of digital fingerprints belonging to each person who visits the site.

"In fact, several companies are already selling products that claim to use browser fingerprinting to help websites identify users and their online activities," EFF Senior Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley said in a release. "This experiment is an important reality check, showing just how powerful these tracking mechanisms are."

EFF's "panopticlick" website examines user agents, HTTP_ACCEPT Headers and dozens of other browser characteristics to calculate how many other visitors to the site displayed the same combination of settings. It then offers a variety of steps users can take to prevent their browser from displaying unique traits that can be tracked.

A PDF of the EFF's whitepaper is here.

TOPICS: Computers/Internet

1 posted on 05/17/2010 5:54:30 PM PDT by Gomez
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To: Swordmaker; ShadowAce


2 posted on 05/17/2010 5:55:12 PM PDT by Gomez (killer of threads)
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To: Gomez; CodeToad

Another form of data mining.

I’m sure the govt will NEVER misuse this ability.

3 posted on 05/17/2010 5:57:59 PM PDT by Travis McGee (
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To: Travis McGee
I was on active duty when they started harvesting DNA samples from servicemembers, ostensibly so our remains could be identified. After I resigned my commission and asked what would become of my specimen I was told it would stay on file. I asked why they'd need it since they wouldn't have to worry about identifying my remains anymore...

...never got a satsifactory answer.

4 posted on 05/17/2010 6:04:26 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Gomez; Beckwith; Lisa

That was supposed o be the “brilliant” finding by the “genius” Danielle at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Studies, when she supposedly scoped out FReepers Beckwith and Liza(?) a couple years back wasn’t it? It was part of Obama’s “Fight the Smears” thuggery, she linked up with WaPO blogger to harass the Freepers, supposedly that they were responsible for spamming “Obama is a Moslem” e-mails all of the internet. It turned out she was wrong, dead wrong.

5 posted on 05/17/2010 6:18:04 PM PDT by gusopol3
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To: Travis McGee

As said before, no one is truly anonymous on the Internet.

6 posted on 05/17/2010 7:05:08 PM PDT by CodeToad
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To: gusopol3

That’s a blast from the past:

7 posted on 05/18/2010 2:57:19 AM PDT by Beckwith (A "natural born citizen" -- two American citizen parents and born in the USA.)
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To: Beckwith

Thanks for the update. I wonder what ever has happened to the (not so ) brilliant Danielle? I’d guess she’s lurking somewhere nearby. Have you thought of yourself in terms of that other Bostonian freedom lover, James Otis?

8 posted on 05/18/2010 3:34:43 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; GodGunsandGuts; CyberCowboy777; Salo; Bobsat; JosephW; ...

9 posted on 05/18/2010 7:55:55 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: Gomez


10 posted on 05/18/2010 9:25:42 AM PDT by Jet Jaguar (*)
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