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Thread: How unique is your browser?

  1. #1
    Community Leader Gracious Donor ravells's Avatar
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    Default How unique is your browser?

    Interesting stuff here.

    Found on Boing Boing.

  2. #2
    Guild Adept moutarde's Avatar
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    Well, according to that, I'm unique!

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    Professional Artist Gracious Donor Djekspek's Avatar
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    me 'appears to be unique' too ... or is it a bad thing? Now how to find out what all the things on that screen mean...

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    Guild Artisan Facebook Connected Rythal's Avatar
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    I iz speshiul, and unik... apperently.

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    What unique means is that your browser alone gives out enough information to track your identity. Between your loaded fonts, extensions, browser choice etc.... most people are identifying themselves, or at least their computer, everywhere they surf. For an eye opening result try the link above with and without javascript enabled.


    I am not going to be so stupid as to enter the argument of what anyone might want to hide. Rather, I am going to suggest that people consider what level of privacy makes them comfortable empowered individuals.


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    Community Leader Gracious Donor Jaxilon's Avatar
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    I have no idea what this means but:

    Within our dataset of about ten thousand visitors, only one in 181 browsers have the same fingerprint as yours.

    Currently, we estimate that your browser has a fingerprint that conveys 7.5 bits of identifying information.
    I think being uinque is bad because it means sites can track you even if they don't know exactly who you are. It's kind of like driving a new Corvette through a run down neighborhood...they know you as "that guy in the vette". At least that's what I'm understanding them as trying to say.
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    Community Leader Gracious Donor ravells's Avatar
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    That was my take on it too but unique only among the sample tested which compared to internet users in total is tiny.

    Not that I'm overly worried. If people want to track my movelements they can be my guest. I tend to visit only about 4 or 5 sites regularly.

    I used to have Zone Alarm Pro which had an option to allow you to surf the web anonymously. I wonder if using that setting would affect the result?

  8. #8
    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    Not much, I suspect. Most of the information the browser is sending is necessary for it to function properly. For kicks, I tried it through an anonymizing proxy server and got only slightly better results: 1 in 18,000 rather than 1 in 110,000. And that was probably mostly due to the proxy shutting off cookies, which I usually have on.

    Incidentally, the claim of "several hundred thousand visitors" is dishonest, since if the web browser is totally unique, they reveal that only ~110,000 browsers have been tested so far. I imagine that will go up over the next few days, but still…
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    Guild Expert Ramah's Avatar
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    1 in 2,676 browsers have my fingerprint. Should I be scared? :S

    Is that because I have the noScript plugin for Firefox?
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  10. #10
    Software Dev/Rep Redrobes's Avatar
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    1 in 27,000 and again I am on latest FF with adblock and noscript too so I don't think that can be quite right tho I am on XPx64 which is pretty unusual I think and probably shows up in the user agent as windows V5.2. One in 181 is pretty good for anonymity but lets be fair you also send your IP which is pretty unique anyway without a proxy or TOR behind it. This thing with the number of 'bits' is a bit silly cos you cant change them in order to convey messages with it unless you had 27,000 different browsers to open connections with.

    What they ought to do after this is to publish the most common ones so we can spoof the user agent string to match.

    Also on boing the other day, did you catch that brilliant network analyzer from Berkley ? I was telling Jax about this in PM but you should all try this cos its brilliant but does convey lots of spoddy info thats a bit deep. You need to run full Java for it to work tho but in this case I think its worth it.

    http://netalyzr.icsi.berkeley.edu/


    EDIT -- Hardyhar, spoofed my user agent string to XP 32 bit and its down to 1 in 1330 now. Hmm I might look through my web sites logfile and see the most common one in there and change it to that instead.

    EDIT2 -- Down to 1250 with this: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.1.7) Gecko/20091221 Firefox/3.5.7 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)
    which I think is WinXP running Firefox with .net installed. I could get an IE one I guess but Id be too ashamed to broadcast it

    To spoof UA in FF you put this "about:config" (no quotes) into the address bar, promise to be a good boy and get to the list of config items. Right click, create a new string called "general.useragent.override" in and then paste the user agent string above in as the text for it. Id stick to a proper one cos some web sites look at it and bin some of the scrapers or other weird stuff hitting it.
    Last edited by Redrobes; 01-28-2010 at 05:08 PM.

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