Previous the third party which first-party site the

Previous surveys has found that it is much more common for mobile devices which are not related of the same models have exactly the same fingerprint than for the Desktop browsers thus making it more difficult for the advertisers to track. Earlier to mitigate the large amount of browser false positives, browser fingerprints were ignored to a certain extent. Instead, persistent device ID cookies were used. As users browse and interact with websites, they are observed by both “first parties”, which are the sites the user visits primarily, and “third parties”, which are typically hidden trackers such as ad networks inserted on most web pages.

Third parties can obtain users’ browsing histories through a combination of cookies and other tracking technologies that allow them to uniquely identify users, and the “referer” header that tells the third party which first-party site the user is currently visiting. The closest comparison are other open web privacy tools for desktop browsers, which we will review now. In the paper extit{Online Tracking: A 1-million-site Measurement and Analysis}, the authors carried out the measurement of the top 1 million sites, using the self developed tool, in which the tool made over 90 million requests, assembling the largest dataset used for studying web tracking. With this scale, a lot of questions were answered. When the web was first invented, it was, by definition, a stateless place. There was no read/write web, PHP was still a glimmer in its inventors’ eyes, and dynamically-generated content was still the domain of those hardy Perl hackers who could stand writing code for ~/cgi-bin. Things were far less interactive.

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The websites which were visited in the earlier days had recorded minimal information about each which were essentially just the information that was part of the protocol. In the mid-1990s, Bell Labs and Netscape introduced the cookie specification for the purpose of enabling web commerce, with the unintended consequence of transforming the entire web into a highly stateful place. Now all of the previous interactions with a website could be in some way encoded, preserved, and recalled via the magic of a browser cookie or by a mouse interaction, even by unintended websites that you may just have brushed up against like so much poison ivy. The ease with which third parties have been tracking our online behaviors, of course, has never been the same. To reduce one’s web fingerprint, common tricks were applied: Using Ad- and Flash-blocker plugins in Google Chrome (Mozilla Firefox currently has inbuilt protection) was one, using an /etc/hosts file was another.

The authors found that the total number of third parties present on at least two first parties is over 81,000. Only 123 of these 81,000 are present on more than 1% of sites. This suggested that the number of third parties that a regular user will encounter on a daily basis would be relatively smaller. The effect is accentuated when we consider that different third parties may be owned by the same entity. The authors examined four known types of fingerprinting techniques: updated Canvas fingerprinting measurements.

The authors also present findings on three techniques that have never been measured before: AudioContext fingerprinting, Canvas-Font fingerprinting, and WebRTC fingerprinting. In the paper extit{XHound: Quantifying the Fingerprintability of Browser Extensions}, the authors describe why the fingerprinting of extensions is more intrusive than the fingerprinting of other browser and system properties, and sketch two different approaches towards defending against extension-based fingerprinting. The authors were able to find fingerprint by finding answers to four questions: What kind of on-page changes do browser extensions introduce?, How fingerprintable are the extension profiles of real users?, How can a tracking script check for the presence of browser extensions? and How many popular extensions introduce on-page changes and are thus fingerprintable? The plugins and extensions are different as most of the users consider the both as the same.

Plugins became popular because they enabled the delivery of non-traditional HTML content, such as, video, and audio, at a time when browsers could only support basic HTML. Plugins, such as, Adobe’s Flash, and Sun’s Java, dominated the landscape of plugins until they started falling out of favor, due to their performance impact on mobile devices, the large number of security vulnerabilities that were routinely used to compromise the machines of users and the general tendency of moving away from proprietary libraries and towards open standards. HTML5 delivers many technologies, such as, WebRTC, Canvas , and native audio and video players, that are now used to build games and applications that, in the past, could only be built using proprietary plugins. In contrast with plugins, browser extensions are meant to extend or modify the default behavior of a browser and are targeted towards end users, rather than application developers. Browser extensions are built using JavaScript, CSS, and HTML, and make use of well-defined APIs provided to them by browsers. Using extensions, users can modify a browser’s interface, add new features that are not, by default, supported, and modify web pages according to their preferences. Users utilize extensions to block ads, download videos, capture screenshots, and manage their passwords. In this tracking scenario, any arbitrary webpage is able to fingerprint extensions that are installed and enabled in a browser.

Such tracking scripts can be loaded inside any custom domain and craft a web page which will trigger extensions to reveal themselves. In this scenario, the tracker will be able to detect only the extensions that introduce changes regardless of the URL of the page. In other words, the detectable functionality of these fingerprintable extensionsmust be content-dependent instead of URL-dependent. XHOUND first automatically unpacks an extension and patches it with JavaScript code in order to hook into functions of interest. More precisely, inspired by Hulk’s honey pages, the authors developed the OnTheFlyDOM library in JavaScript which, upon inclusion on a web page, intercepts most of the possible queries that an extension may use to locate DOM elements. For instance, as per the research paper, XHOUND patches the document.

getElementById method so that, when an extension uses it to inquire about the presence of an element with a specific identifier, the custom library will actually create, on the-fly, such an element, record that it did so, and return that element to the calling script.

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