When you type on your computer, are you worried about fingerprints? Not on your keyboard, but across the internet? That’s because your computer could be leaving behind “browser fingerprints” at every place you visit on the internet.
A PhD student at The University of Adelaide would like to change that, but he needs your help.
Lachlan Kang is leading a project called “Browserprint.” With the help of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS), Lachlan says he can help you find out more about your browser fingerprint.
If you would like to help, or see your own internet browser fingerprint, head to Lachlan’s newly-created website, https://browserprint.info/, or click on the icon to the right.
Lachlan says the goal of the project is two-fold. The first is to find out what fingerprinting techniques are the most powerful, by analysing a large number of fingerprints. The second is to build defences against these techniques, by studying and even building new fingerprinting techniques.
With new defences, Lachlan says he hopes people will be able to protect themselves from being fingerprinted, or tracked without their consent.
“When you’re tracked between websites,” says Lachlan, “your browsing history and personal information can be pooled between those websites.”
As part of his effort to create new defences, Lachlan says he also is looking into de-anonymising people who use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and Tor. A VPN is essentially a connection to a proxy that you can forward your network traffic over to make it appear as though it's coming from a different place. Tor is similar to a VPN but more advanced, and the Tor Browser Bundle, which is the suggested way of using Tor, has many fingerprinting defences that Lachlan seeks to defeat.
“The project will create an interesting dataset for mathematical and statistical analysis, where we can calculate things such as what fingerprinting techniques are the most powerful,” says Lachlan.