The digital fingerprint of a device is akin to a spy thriller unfolding on the internet, and virtually all of us play a part. As soon as you open any website, your device is clandestinely 'photographed' using a set of data that your browser carelessly distributes all around.
This isn’t just about cookies, which can be easily deleted. A digital fingerprint comprises a comprehensive list of information about a specific device, ranging from the type of browser and screen resolution to installed fonts and extensions. Yes, you don’t even need to authenticate with your name to share all of this.
How does the saving of a digital fingerprint occur in practice? It's not that complicated! Imagine that every time you enter a store, you leave a unique footprint from your shoes. It remains unchanged regardless of whether you switch jackets or don a hat, bring a backpack or leave it in your car.
The digital fingerprint of a device combines hundreds of subtle features of your device, thereby creating a unique profile that can be identified with high precision. This allows websites, like the stores described above, to recognize you again and again.
Why do websites even need digital fingerprints? Have you ever noticed that after searching for new sneakers online, advertisements for them start to follow you across various websites? This is not magic or a mere coincidence but the use of the digital fingerprint of a device in action.
Advertising networks use unique digital fingerprints of devices to understand that you are the user interested in sneakers. You really want to buy them, so they offer them to you repeatedly across various platforms. This is how such platforms maximize their effectiveness.
Are digital fingerprints only necessary for advertising? Of course not! Banks and payment systems can use them to combat fraud. If they see that an account is being accessed from a new device, the digital fingerprint of which is not associated with the account, they may request additional authentication.
It might seem that security is the primary concern here, but in reality, the same technology can also be used to create complex user profiles that include habits, interests, and even an estimated income level.
Is there any way to hide such tracks online? Interestingly, attempts to do something about this often lead to the opposite result. The fact is that enabling Incognito mode or using a VPN typically makes the digital fingerprint only more unique.
It’s not surprising, considering that the overwhelming majority of users do not care about their anonymity online. That is why the harder you try to hide from the systems that record digital fingerprints, the more distinctive they ultimately become with each new attempt.
In general, digital fingerprints of devices make anonymity on the internet more illusory. Moreover, they can also be used for fraudulent operations. However, it's important to understand that you've already taken the main step to protect yourself with our help — you've recognized the problem and are now ready for its possible consequences.