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Canvas Fingerprinting

Fri 05 December 2014

You folks know how careful I protect my Internet privacy and how seriously I take the threat of hacking, capturing my passwords, and other invasions into my computer life. This privacy issue is one of the main reasons I am not a member of any the social website/media. I have blocked active script from initiating on any of my browsers and I have blocked my browsers from forwarding me to another site without my knowledge and permission. These techniques are often used to put Trojans on your computer without your knowledge. Even valid websites can have rogue advertisements on them which will automatically execute if you simply go to their website. The two worse places to catch a chosen or virus is on a social site or through email attachments.

The thought of companies tracking my Internet surfing just offends me. My browsers have a little utility known as Do Not Track Me which goes a long way toward not being tracked on the Internet. Many if not most sites want to put a cookie on your browser before you can go to their site. This little utility sends a message back to the site such that it thinks it has a cookie on my computer. It's the only utility of its kind and I've been using it for years.

While on a security form today I discovered a new nasty tracking method called Canvas Fingerprinting. Popular, heavily trafficked websites are increasingly turning to "canvas fingerprinting" in order to track your online movements. Canvas fingerprinting is extremely hard to block, hard to detect, and has become a unique identifier that logs your 'Net history as you jump from site to site without you knowing about it - on desktop and mobile devices. The shocker for the researchers is that while standard cookies, primarily on desktop, have long tracked your movements, with users being able to opt out with ad-blocking software, canvas fingerprinting actually takes control away from the users and is virtually impossible to detect.

Most but not all the sites observed in a test used a content-sharing widget from the company AddThis. When a browser loaded the AddThis widget, JavaScript that enabled canvas fingerprinting was sent. The script used a capability in modern Web browsers called the canvas API that allows access to the computer's graphics chip, which is intended for use with games or other interactive content. An invisible image was sent to the browser, which rendered it and sent data back to the server. That data can then be used to create a "fingerprint" of the computer, which could be useful for identifying the computer and serving targeted advertisements. Your unique fingerprint can be identified by websites which you go to without using a cookie. Just think about it - no matter what website you go to that site knows who you are in more detail than you even want to think about. This sort of crap really pisses me off.

I'm still doing research but the articles I've read thus far have said that the AddThis which it uses JavaScript which enables the fingerprinting to be sent. I have JavaScript disabled in all of my computers so maybe I might be safe but I'm not sure yet. One of the articles also said the utility I have called Do Not Track Me might also block this canvas fingerprinting.

Now comes the good news. A program I've been using for years called WinPatrol is coming out with a new program called WinPrivacy in the next several weeks - maybe before the end of December. Having a pro version of WinPatrol I was given the option to prepay for the purchase of this new program at a 80% discount - I couldn't send my money fast enough! Here is what the new WinPrivacy program will do:

**WinPrivacy rips open the veil of secrecy programs have been hiding behind by exposing every single program on your computer that is using the Internet.

**WinPrivacy tells you from where each program is sending and receiving data, and how much.

**WinPrivacy gives you the power to block Internet Access for any program(s).

**WinPrivacy lets you block any unknown programs from using the Internet without your permission.

**WinPrivacy is highly configurable.

**WinPrivacy removes 3rd party Flash Cookies

**WinPrivacy blocks Canvas Fingerprinting

**WinPrivacy tells you which sites DO NOT use Canvas Fingerprinting

As far as I'm concerned this is a Godsend. I hardly wait to install it. If you do not have WinPatrol you should and while you're at it buy WinPrivacy. Of course if you don't care that the world knows where you go, what you do, what you say, what you buy, with whom you text, etc. then just ignore my suggestion.

Of course I have to remind you of the ACC playoff game tomorrow night. FSU is favored by most everybody with a point spread of4 to 7 depending on which bookie you talk. Yet there are those who say that Georgia Tech is not a sure loser and could end Florida State University's flawless winning season. Nothing would please me more.





Posted at 03:28 pm in Uncategorized


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