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Emmanuel Aiyenigba
Emmanuel Aiyenigba

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What is browser fingerprinting and why should you integrate with your website?

What is browser security?

browser fingerprint

browser security

In a world of increasing internet fraud, it becomes important to secure your product on the internet from fraudsters. Security is a very important part of any product and should not be taken with levity.

Over the years, there have been several reports of intruders breaking into the account of users on the internet and carrying out fraudulent activities on it which has led to the loss of huge amount of money from users and companies.

Browser security becomes a huge concern since most uses the browser to access the internet. Every user wants to know if the site they are visiting is safe to use; they want to know that their data is safe with your website. Once you can assure a visitor of data safety, you just got a customer on your product. Everyone wants to deal only in a place where there is safety. This leaves developers with the task of ensuring user safety on the web.

People with malicious and fraudulent intents on the web need to be detected and stopped. How do you do this? Browsing fingerprinting!

What is browser fingerprinting?

Browser fingerprinting is a method websites use to collect information about a user in order to establish a unique set of parameters for identification upon subsequent visits. The information collected includes: browser-type, version, operating system, timezone, language, CPU, GPU, screen resolution, extensions etc.

Still don't get it?

Think of it this way. You visit a house putting on your favorite attire. You played around the house leaving your: fingerprints on everything you touched; your footprints on the sand. You came with your car having a license plate, you made a phone call in that house. Assuming you are an intruder - the owner of the house doesn't know you and was not around when you visited (wasn't exactly a visit, right?).

When the owner of the house returns and discovered someone came to his house in his absence (someone now being you). Finding you shouldn't be difficult for the house owner. Why? your fingerprints are all over his house, his neighbors saw your car's license plate, your footprint is littered all over the apartment.

Observe that not just one but many information (called parameters) you unwittingly left behind will be used to discover your identity and trace your location.

Browser fingerprinting works in a similar way. Unlike local storage and cookies, your fingerprint remains after browser data is purged. Fingerprint also remain the same regardless of whether browsing happened in private/incognito mode or not.

Browser fingerprinting helps you secure your website by detecting and preventing fraudulent activities from spamming, multiple sign-ups etc.

The accuracy of Browser fingerprinting is upto 99.5%. This is because it uses many parameters to uniquely identify each visitor and tracks down their activities.

Edward Snowden told journalists that the NSA uses screen resolution of computers to identify terrorists - that right there is browser fingerprinting.

How does the NSA do that?
Well, they basically just send a graphic on known size to a user (of course the visibility of this graphic will be set to hidden), the amount of pixel the browser can display from this graphic is measured. This measurement can be used to get the list of devices having that pixel number. Other information will be used to narrow this down.

Because of the accuracy of browser fingerprinting, it's no surprise that big techs use it to uniquely serve you ads based on your previous searches over the internet.

How to use browser fingerprinting to secure your website from fraud

Sometimes a user with malicious intent might want to do multiple signups - that is, signup to your product with multiple email addresses. Browser fingerprint will pick that up for you. You can also use it to prevent spamming, spoofing etc. Overall, it can be used to detect and prevent fraud.

Use cases include: Account takeover, cryptocurrency exchange, payment fraud, ecommerce, gaming, buy now pay later etc.

Here are some browser fingerprinting libraries that exists for you to integrate with to help stop frauds, spams and account takeovers.

FingerprintJS

get-browser-fingerprint

ClientJS

Browser Fingerprint

Kindly leave a comment if you'd like me to write an article and build demos on how to integrate any of the libraries mentioned above. In the meantime, you can go check these libraries up for yourself.

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