Brave Browser: Introducing New Privacy Feature! Defend Against Fingerprinting.
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Brave Browser: Introducing New Privacy Feature! Defend Against Fingerprinting.

By tomoyan | tomoyan | 8 Mar 2020


Browser fingerprint? What is it?

A browser fingerprint is a set of information related to a user’s device from the hardware to the operating system to the browser and its configuration.

Browser fingerprinting refers to the process of collecting information through a web browser to build a fingerprint of a device.

Websites use fingerprinting technique to identify and collect your device information, browser configurations and environment data of your computer. This information can be used to analyze page view events, track online behaviors, and then generate a unique ID about who you are like a "fingerprint".

Collected data might not have your name, phone, age or address, but browser fingerprinting is a very powerful and accurate method to identify pretty much anybody because browser fingerprints can be matched against known users data, and most browsers don't have effective way to prevent fingerprinting and fingerprint-based tracking is harder to protect against without breaking websites.

Fingerprinting can identify you and the ID that is assigned to you will follow you around across multiple websites and sessions.

Good?

Security issue is a big deal for online stores and businesses, and browser fingerprint can be a safety net.

Many companies are using API like FingerprintJS for various reasons.

  • Fraud prevention
  • Prevention of account hijacking
  • Anti-bot services

companies

Evil?

However, browser fingerprinting is a huge privacy issue for end users. 

  • Obtain real-time marketing analytics
  • Collect personal data
  • No way to know if fingerprinted
  • Hard to prevent fingerprinting

Brave is trying to solve this issue and fighting against browser fingerprinting by changing each website look little different for computers.

How Brave prevents fingerprinting?

By making your browser constantly appear different when browsing, websites are unable to link your browsing behavior, and are thus unable to track you on the Web.

Brave implemented two types of fingerprinting protections.

(i) blocking, removing or modifying APIs, to make Brave instances look as similar as possible,

(ii) randomizing values from APIs, to prevent cross session and site linking

These protections will make your browser look completely unique between websites and between browsing sessions even though it doesn't look any different for human eyes, it is distinguishable for computers and fingerprinters so that a different fingerprint will be assigned on each visit and websites are not able to link that ID to you.

Try it yourself

You can see your ID and see how it tracks you Here: FingerprintJS API demo.

Left: Brave latest version(up: regular window and down: private window)
Right: Brave Nightly version(up: regular window and down: private window)

demo

Current Browsers: Brave, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge

You can open/close browser, use private window, clear cache and browser data, no matter what you do, you will have the same fingerprint and these visits are liked and identified as you.

New Brave: Brave Nightly

Regular window and private window, each window has a unique fingerprint this shows that these visits are no linked and protecting your privacy.

(once you clear cache and delete all the browsing data, you should see the different ID in regular window too)

If you leave your fingerprint at a crime scene, police can link that fingerprint to you and track you down.

But Brave leaves a different fingerprint every time you "touch" a website so websites are unable to track you and your privacy is protected.

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