Leaving your fingerprints all over the Web

Bet you think you are pretty smart when it comes to making sure that you don’t leave any trace of your information lying around the web when you are finished surfing. After all the first thing you do is install or update some sort of ad blocking software with any new system. You make sure that you clean out your cookies on a regular bases and some even go to the extent of turning off javascript on a site by site basis.

Yup you’re pretty clever. Those info gobbling sites don’t get anything from you.

Or do they?

Well according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation all those precautions are nice but may actually do little to stop sites from being able to tell who you are. It seems that the overwhelming number of browsers have unique signatures and it is these signatures that become your fingerprints as you wander the web.

EFF found that 84% of the configuration combinations were unique and identifiable, creating unique and identifiable browser “fingerprints.” Browsers with Adobe Flash or Java plug-ins installed were 94% unique and trackable.

“We took measures to keep participants in our experiment anonymous, but most sites don’t do that,” said EFF Senior Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley. “In fact, several companies are already selling products that claim to use browser fingerprinting to help websites identify users and their online activities. This experiment is an important reality check, showing just how powerful these tracking mechanisms are.”

Now isn’t that comforting to know.