IT Trenches

Feb 2 2010   6:14PM GMT

Cookies disabled? – You can still be fingerprinted when browsing



Posted by: Troy Tate
Tags:
browser
browser configuration
browser security
civil rights
cookies
eff
Electronic Frontier Foundation
plugin
privacy
webserver

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, who’s mission is defending civil liberties in a digital world, recently released an online browser privacy test tool called Panopticlick. The premise of this tool is that you can still be tracked by websites even if you limit or completely disable cookies. Every browser session transfers some client information that is possible to track by the server. Some of the client information that can be tracked includes:

  • User agent information – browser version, OS version, patch level, plugins, etc.
  • Time zone
  • Source IP address
  • Screen size & color depth
  • System fonts

When put together, these elements and others, could be a device fingerprint totally unique to you and your system. An interesting writeup on Panopticlick can be found on the Technovelgy (where science meets fiction) website – Panopticlick Browser Ident-Key You Didn’t Know You Had.

Panopticlick showed my browser fingerprint was unique out of the 521,269 computers tested so far. What does yours show? Do you think this is a good tool to have available? What about the suggestions EFF gives for browser self-defense? Are these valid options in an enterprise environment?

Thanks for reading & let’s continue to be good network citizens!

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