A U.S.-based multi-university research effort has yielded distinct fingerprinting methods to track users when they use different browsers installed on the same device.
Cross-browser fingerprinting (CBF) techniques rely on making browsers execute operations that use the underlying hardware components to process the desired data. By measuring the response to these operations, researchers applied the resulting data to flag the different hardware configurations, specific to distinct users, irrespective of the browser accessing a test website.
Browser features that could be misused for CBF operations include screen resolution, the number of central-processing unit virtual cores, AudioContext, the list of fonts, vertex shaders, fragment shaders, installed writing scripts, transparency via the alpha channel, modeling and multiple three-dimensional (3D) models, lighting and shadow mapping, operations for rendering 3D models in two dimensions, clipping planes, and line, curve, and anti-aliasing operations. All of these methods were utilized in combination to test how many users the researchers could track to the same computer.
CBF techniques correctly identified 99.24% of all test users, up from 90.84% realized by previous research methods.
The researchers advise users to either employ the Tor Browser to avoid CBF, or to deploy virtualization layers for other browsers.
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Abstracts Copyright © 2017 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA
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