Fingerprinting, IP location tracking – you name it, you’re being tracked with it
Hundreds of different sites every day are tracking you. Whether you realize it or not, your data is being shared to the sites you shop from or stream music and videos from.
More people than ever before are educated on data privacy and how they need to be cautious of who they give their data out to. Despite this, millions live in blissful ignorance of their data being swiped from under their noses. In this article, we’ll be discussing the various ways in which you’re being tracked – from IP location tracking and fingerprinting to user agents, as well as how you can fight back.
Your enemy isn’t human; it’s a bot.
No, we’re not talking about the robots you see on TV.
The bots you’re up against are highly advanced. While they aren’t always used (sometimes, it’s just a regular program running), they’re extremely good at what they do.
- They can pretend to attack from the same browsers we use, like Chrome and Firefox.
- They’re skilled at hiding their tracks – from manipulating HTTP headers to changing browser fingerprints.
- These days, bot operators can attack from millions of IP addresses from anywhere in the world.
- They’re smart enough to know that they can’t make many requests per IP address.
These bots run on real mobile devices in close proximity to hundreds of other bots in “farms”. To make matters worse, bots can mimic human behavior to the extent that they can easily pass Captcha and employ similar characteristics of human beings like keyword strokes and mouse movements.
At this point, you’re probably wondering exactly how these bots steal your data. Here are a few common ways people’s data get stolen as they browse the web.
1. Tracking through IP location.
An IP address is unique to every device. Think of it as your house address.
When you browse the web on your device, your device exchanges IP addresses with the website to ensure data can be sent and received correctly.
Just like when you want to call a friend, both parties need to disclose their phone numbers fully. This full disclosure of IP addresses leads to some websites taking your address and using it for their own purposes.
Here’s the unsettling part: Once your IP address is extracted, your location can be determined. In most cases, this is only a rough estimate of where you live, like your state or county. However, the location information derived can be more specific if you have a static IP.
2. Tracking through fingerprinting
Similar to forensic investigations, fingerprinting is the process of identifying a device based on specific characteristics, like the operating system or the version the browser is running. Each device used to access a site has different characteristics and thus has a unique fingerprint.
Advertisers use fingerprints to identify you. This way, advertisements can be tailored to your preferences.
The main issue with fingerprinting is that it’s incredibly challenging to stop. Once your device’s fingerprint has been identified, there aren’t many ways to fix the problem as these characteristics of your device can’t be changed.
3. Tracking through user agents
When you visit a website, your browser sends a string of text to the website’s server. This is known as your “user-agent”. It helps your website identify what browser you’re surfing on and what operating system you’re running. In theory, this information can help web developers deliver a richer, more dynamic browsing experience to the site’s visitors.
However, this information can be used to identify your computer. Like a fingerprint, your device’s user agent is unique.
Unfortunately, unlike cookies, you can’t delete your fingerprint or user agent whenever you’d like. This presents a dire problem for your privacy.
How using a proxy can protect you from all of these.
Fortunately, there is still hope. It’s called a proxy. Luckily for you, we happen to sell one!
Smartproxy offers a solution to all of these issues. It has millions of IP addresses from any country you could possibly think of (over 195 countries, to be exact, as well as city-level targeting). Due to advanced rotation algorithms, you can send unlimited requests and enjoy an average response time of fewer than 3 seconds. It even comes in the form of a Firefox add-on and Chrome extension to remind you to turn it on before you start browsing.