What Is Canvas Fingerprinting?

Daniel - January 17, 2022

What Is Canvas Fingerprinting?

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In this article, I’ll be answering the question, What is canvas fingerprinting? how this technique works, and what it’s used for. 

What Is Canvas Fingerprinting?

Canvas fingerprinting is a modern browser tracking method that many say will succeed cookies. This technique differs from previous tracking technologies in that it uses the HTML5 Canvas capability to trace web visitors' digital imprint. 

Canvas fingerprinting dates back to 2012, when Hovav Shacham and Keaton Mowery of the University of California published Pixel Perfect: Fingerprinting Canvas in HTML5; a paper that describes how to establish accurate digital fingerprints of internet users using the HTML5 canvas. 

However, canvas fingerprinting was already around before the paper was published. Canvas fingerprinting is advanced and precise which many consider it the best browser fingerprinting technique. 

You can employ the technique alone or along with other browser fingerprinting techniques to improve tracking accuracy. 

How Does Canvas Fingerprinting Work?

Canvas fingerprinting works by manipulating the HTML5 Canvas functionality. Canvas is an HTML5 API used to render text and pictures on a webpage using Javascript scripting. The canvas fingerprinting technique is very effective as most websites today feature HTML5 codes.

Canvas fingerprinting works by comparing how various computers render the same canvas image. Clicking on websites containing canvas fingerprinting scripts generates random text with random font and size. The data is then Base64 encoded before being hashed into the fingerprint. 

Variations in image format can be due to image processing engines, export settings, and browser compression levels. 

At the system level, various computers can render one image differently due to differences in fonts, algorithms, and anti-aliasing settings. Hence, canvas fingerprinting mainly considers graphic data from the operating system, graphics card, card driver, installed client fonts, and browser.

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Use Cases For Canvas Fingerprinting

Canvas fingerprinting has different use cases for online companies, businesses, and websites that manage users/customers. Some of these include: 

  • Targeting 

Online advertising has been the best method of marketing for businesses in recent years. However, given the vast audience, it is vital that marketers manage their budgets effectively by only advertising to those who are actually interested in their product. 

Canvas fingerprinting can be used by advertisers to personalize adverts and increase return on investment. 

For advertisers, canvas fingerprinting is the best because of its precision compared to traditional cookies. Advertisers will have no reliable way to track their campaigns if users block cookies on their computers. 

  • Personalization 

Personalization is critical to the success of any marketing campaign. Customers are more likely to shop with brands that provide a personalized experience with product ideas and recommendations. They benefit from more tailored content, while brands benefit from increased income. 

Brands use online tracking tools like cookies and browser fingerprinting to ensure that their customers get a customised experience. Cookies are slowly becoming outdated, and as previously said, canvas fingerprinting is likely to succeed cookies. 

  • Tracking and analytics 

Analytics and tracking are critical dynamics in business. Marketers may not be able to report ROIs and optimize future efforts without the use of factual data and analytics. Using canvas fingerprinting, you can keep track of important information like the number of new and returning users.

  • Preventing Online Fraud 

Online banking platforms are constantly on the lookout to make sure only account owners have access to their accounts. Together with other internet tracking measures, canvas fingerprinting is making the digital world a more secure place. 

Fintech, for example, can detect whether an online banking session is in danger using canvas fingerprinting. Since each device has a different fingerprint, logging in with a device that leaves a new footprint shows that the account may have been compromised. 

How To Protect Against Canvas Fingerprinting 

Canvas fingerprinting has its pros and cons. As with any other browser tracking method, canvas fingerprinting doesn't ensure complete online security and privacy. 

Also, the technique is one of the most effective for hackers and other cybercriminals to track your online activities. The same applies to governments and any other organization aiming to control your digital life.

If you’re about online privacy, you should try to protect against canvas fingerprinting. It’s not possible to completely prevent browsers from tracking your online fingerprints whether it’s via canvas fingerprinting, cookies, or others. The best you can do is to mislead them and for that, you’ll need a proxy. 

With a proxy, you can mask your online identity and browse anonymously. For example, if you’re in the US, you can browse with a UK proxy. Any website tracking your browser fingerprints will trace your location to the UK and not the US. 

You can purchase any of the below proxies from ProxyRack to protect yourself against canvas fingerprinting: 

Residential Proxies 

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  • Shared Datacenter Proxies: Starting at $49

  • Canada Rotating Proxies: Starting at $65

A Final Word

In this post, we answered the question - what is canvas fingerprinting? Also, we revealed the use cases for canvas fingerprinting. If you want the best proxies for protection against browsing tracking, you can get them from Proxyrack.

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