Thursday, June 20, 2013

They Know Who You Are... and it ain't the NSA!

Many Internet advertisers rely on cookies, digital code stored on your browser. Some websites place multiple cookies when you visit, allowing them to track some of your activity over time (you can see who is tracking you by installing an application such as Ghostery or Abine’s “DoNotTrackMe”).

The problem for marketers is that some users set their browsers to reject cookies or quickly extinguish them. And mobile phones, which are taking an increasing chunk of the Web usage, do not use cookies.

To combat the cookie’s flaws, advertisers and publishers are increasingly turning to something called fingerprinting. This technique allows a web site to look at the characteristics of a computer such as what plugins and software you have installed, the size of the screen, the time zone, fonts and other features of any particular machine. These form a unique signature just like random skin patterns on a finger...

Fingerprinting may prove a more robust tracking technology than cookies because the user’s identify endures even if they erase their cookies. Making changes to your software and settings only makes you more identifiable, not less. An EFF study several years ago found that it is easy to track when someone changes their profiles by adding software updates, for example. You can see what details your computer is transmitting right now by visiting this site. (more)

Try it. You'll be amazed. ~Kevin