Privacy on the Internet has always been hard to achieve but this new tracking technique could mean even more of your information is out in the open.
Yinzhi Cao, a computer science professor revealed a process that makes “fingerprinting” possible across multiple browsers. This process not limited by switching between browsers (e.g. Chrome, Safari, Firefox) and it means that websites, advertisers or anyone can track your browsing activity. Not only is this new technique applicable across multiple browsers but also it has a 99% success rate which is an improvement on previous one-browser tracking methods.
This browser fingerprinting process creates a “fingerprint” based on a set of characteristics exhibited by a computers software and hardware. Things like the apps you have installed to your screen resolution all contribute to create a unique profile that is identifiable. This tracking used to be avoidable by switching browsers however this new method is not limited by that trick.
This method may be of benefit to advertisers, they can track where you are browsing and feed you promotional material across the browsers that you use. However, it’s unclear how many people are using it currently. The code for this technique has been published online which may be considered as a good thing as it gives people a chance to understand the process and look for loop-holes on how to avoid it. The method itself is complicated and involves 36 tasks.
If you are concerned about your privacy whilst online there’s no need to panic, as it’s not foolproof and there are ways to avoid it. Tor, for example, is a browser that allows you to search privately and is exempt from this fingerprint tracking.