What is browser fingerprinting?
Device fingerprinting or browser fingerprinting is the systematic collection of
information about a remote device, for identification purposes. Client-side scripting
languages allow the development of procedures to collect very rich fingerprints: browser
and operating system type and version, screen resolution, architecture type, lists of fonts,
plugins, microphone, camera, etc.
On this site, we collect:
- the User agent header
- the Accept header
- the Connection header
- the Encoding header
- the Language header
- the list of plugins
- the platform
- the cookies preferences (allowed or not)
- the Do Not Track preferences (yes, no or not communicated)
- the timezone
- the screen resolution and its color depth
- the use of local storage
- the use of session storage
- a picture rendered with the HTML Canvas element
- a picture rendered with WebGL
- the presence of AdBlock
- the list of fonts
How is the fingerprint collected?
Browser fingerprints are also called
because it is not necessary to install any form of cookie to collect a fingerprint.
This means that the act of fingerprinting a specific browser is stateless and transparent for the user.
Any third-party interested in fingerprinting can exploit a set of different techniques to get a rich fingerprint:
- The user agent and the
accept headers are automatically sent to websites when a connection is initiated.
like the plugins installed on the user’s device.
- If the Flash plugin is installed, its rich programming
interface (API) provides access to many system-specific attributes: exact version of the operating system, list of fonts,
screen resolution, timezone.
- Through the display of an HTML5 Canvas element, it is possible to collect small differences in the hardware or in the software
configurations, thanks to slight differences in the image rendering between devices. The smallest pixel difference can be detected.
This is called canvas fingerprinting .
On this site, we use:
- Plugin Detect for plugins detection in some versions of Internet Explorer.
- three.js for the rendering of a WebGL scene.
How are the fingerprints exploited?
Like all tracking technology, it is a double-edge sword.
Fingerprints can be used in a constructive way to combat fraud or credential hijacking,
by checking that a user who logs into a specific site is likely the legitimate user.
Fingerprints can also be used in more questionable way, in order to track users across
web sites and collect information about their habits and their tastes without the users knowing about it.
Fingerprints can even be used in a destructive way: if attackers know which software modules
(specific browser version, plugins, etc.) are installed on a specific device, they can deliver
exploits that are tailored for these specific modules or combination of modules.
amiunique has shares some goals with panoticlick, but it provides a number of novelties:
- amiunique implements the most recent techniques for fingerprinting, including webGL and canvas
- amiunique provides more information to the users, including global statistics, as well as a concise summary of the main characteristics of a browser
- amiunique is open source and available on Github
What is the difference between amiunique.org and other similar web sites?
There exist other sites that collect and / or inform users about the amount of information that can be collected through their website:
amiunique.org is different from these sites, with respect to the following points.
It implements state of the art fingerprinting techniques. In particular, this is the first web site that collects information through WebGL.
It provides different levels of information to the user. Beyond the complete fingerprint, amiunique is the only site that provides a synthetic view,
which gives few, easy to understand statistics about the degree of unicity of a device among the sample we have observed so far. We also centralize
a number of different pointers about fingerprinting, which go from general pages that introduce the technique, to technical papers in the research
literature and press articles that cover the topic.