Can you imagine life without a Global network? It is not possible anymore if you are not living in a remote village. The history of communication had drastically changed in 1987 by creating the worldwide Web by Tim Berners-Lee. Already in 2017, half of the world population had access to and using the Internet actively.
In Europe, the USA, Brazil, almost 100% population is Internet users; in Asia and Africa, from 0% to 50% of people has access to the Internet. Smartphones helped expand the number of people who can communicate, find information, entertainment, etc., more easily. Currently, about 5 billion people are active Internet users via computer, and almost the same amount are using mobiles for log-in.
Internet is an extremely wise network; it can use all data that came into it. Each digital activity after review of Internet web pages is saved as cookies on the Internet that can be deleted (and in general, cookies are subject to the European Union regulation). Still, nowadays, new technologies propose browser digital fingerprints.
Digital fingerprint can be active or passive; the difference is in awareness of the user. Passive digital fingerprint includes typically at least the user’s IP-address and its actions in the net without detailed personal information; this information was taken without notification. Active digital data consists of all information inserted by the user during registration on the website and usually was collected with notice.
Additionally, browser fingerprinting can deliver explicit attributes about your device (operating system, browser, software installed and its characteristics, time zone, language, using you ad-blocker or not, even screen resolution) that ideally recognize you out of billions of other Internet operators.
The following advanced systems help to identify individuals with an additional degree of accuracy: canvas fingerprinting, WebGL fingerprinting, device fingerprinting, audio fingerprinting.
The most broadly used digital fingerprinting process is the canvas. What is canvas fingerprinting? It is a new online tracking technology using HTML5 canvas elements. Canvas elements gather information about font style, graphics card, drivers, etc. WebGL fingerprinting is also collecting material about hardware and graphic system. Device fingerprinting collects the list of user’s media devices, including audio and video cards; audio gathers information regarding the audio stack.
But of course, there is some advice on how to protect your personal data. Here are three tips on how to hide your data on the Web:
1. To turn on incognito mode
This mode is activated with special commands in your browser. Although the pluses are obvious, there are some significant negative aspects: you can store your passwords, automatic filling of most recent information does not work. And if you log-in to your Google, Twitter, or Facebook account, then incognito mode is useless.
Some Browsers as Mozilla and Google honestly tell you that incognito mode does not fully protect your personal data. Still, the internet provider/ owner of the Wi-Fi router/ owner of the local network can track your activity via your IP-address.
2. To use VPN service
This service allows log-in from different countries, so actions will not be tracked as incognito mode. Unfortunately, such platforms as Twitter or Facebook will track you anyway.
Be careful choosing the Company that provides this service, as these Companies store your private data. VPN services can be free (you can hear in the news that private data was stolen one day), but the most famous and most safe will ask for some money.
For example, the service used by 12 million users all over the world and physically located in Panama costs about 12 U.S. dollars per month, but you can use up to 6 connections at one time from one account. Another free-of-charge VPN service is limited with a connection only from three places and speed limitation.
3. Use such Browser as TOR
TOR means – The onion router. This browser is working since 2002 and was made by thousand of programmers-volunteers all over the world. TOR browser works as a VPN service, making it difficult to track your original physical destination. This browser can be used in countries where the Internet is forbidden or censored.
Minus of such browser – it works much slower. Tor works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Each user’s data is going through three data protection steps, and none of the TOR computers have a complete list of information. But even TOR can not provide 100% protection; you may use TOR with a VPN service that increases your security status.
Some other attractive solutions are more challenging to execute: turn off Wi-Fi and never use public networks, and turn off GPS, turn off all plug-ins that you do not use on websites, deactivate all old accounts from e-shops, social nets, etc. (it is tough to remember all of them), do not participate in any pop-up tests or activities, use incorrect data for logging in not significant resources, forget about cloud/dropbox storage.
While surfing in the global network, many digital fingerprints can be left not only as IP-address or your screen resolution. Your more private information can also be lost, as your credit card number or your social security number. For example, Google has its solution for protecting your data and protecting you from harmful resources.
But always stay aware of what rules are for each site’s users, as most famous resources include in condition for users the following: storage of open pages of user interest, GPS tracking of users, possibility to read send messages, shopping carts, and many others.
The positive feedback from digital fingerprinting also exists; in most cases, your private information is used for marketing to propose to you something you are interested in. Some people even appreciate that their choice is managed by “Big Brother.”