Another little scare

It’s been a year since I tried scaring people with tales tales of how much information your web browser gives away for free.

So it’s probably about time that I join el Reg in trying to scaring people a bit more.

The vast majority of people surfing the web leave behind digital fingerprints that can be used to uniquely identify them, research released Monday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation suggests.

Using a website that compares visitors’ browser configurations to a database of almost 1 million other users, EFF researchers found that 84 percent of visitors used setting combinations that were unique. When The Register visited the site using Firefox, it received a message that read: “Your browser fingerprint appears to be unique among the 837,411 tested so far.” (Turning off javascript and Java with the NoScript plugin didn’t change the results we got on one test PC, but on a second machine, use of NoScript significantly increased the number of browsers with the same fingerprint.)

Having opened that little website, I found out the following:

Within our dataset of several hundred thousand visitors, only one in 14,810 browsers have the same fingerprint as yours.

Currently, we estimate that your browser has a fingerprint that conveys 13.85 bits of identifying information.

So using my default browser (Firefox) with my usual setup of plug-ins and settings, I’m still plenty identifiable. Use IE, however, and it gets a little bit worse:

Your browser fingerprint appears to be unique among the 933,176 tested so far.

Currently, we estimate that your browser has a fingerprint that conveys at least 19.83 bits of identifying information.

So, I’ll be using less IE, shall I?

How about you lot?

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