Visitor tracking has been existing “subtly” for a long period of time, with people studying the pattern and digital fingerprint left by users from all over the world. They distinguish them through the duration of their visit to a certain site, their actions in the site and many more.
Today, researchers have developed a technique that allows websites to track the visitors regardless of the browser that they use through their digital traces. These traces are caused by the custom settings of the browser used, selected time zone, the installed plugins, adblockers used, and the “do not track” option.
The problem before was that the tracking ability was only limited to one browser, making it hard to connect and trace the digital prints left behind in different browsers, even if they run on the same device. However, the (Cross-)Browser Fingerprinting technique via OS and Hardware Level Features works across different browsers and is more accurate than the ones before it.
With this at the works, fingerprinting might soon have a longer list of benefits and advantage to its users. Banks can check when there has been changes on the user’s digital pattern and movement. This is only one of the many possibilities that fingerprinting can do, though it imposes a threat to the user’s privacy as well.
Lead Research Yinzhi Cao says that a negative effect of this technique is that the data can be used to provide customized ads to the user, depending on what they do online.
“Our work makes the scenario even worse, because after the user switches browsers, the ads company can still recognize the user. In order to defeat the privacy violation, we believe that we need to know our enemy well,” he added.
Cross-browser fingerprinting is just the newest technique to track users and site visitors. There are many more available ways that are used in order to keep a record of a site’s audience and reach. Researchers are currently working on finding better and safer ways in order to track digital traces without harming the safety and privacy of the user.