Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
browser fingerprinting, privacy, security, canvas, chromium
Whether users know it or not, their online behaviors are being tracked and stored by many of the websites they visit regularly through a technique called browser fingerprinting. Just like a person's physical fingerprint can identify them, users' browser fingerprints can identify them on the Internet. This thesis outlines the techniques used in browser fingerprinting and explains how although it can be used for good, it can also be a major threat to people's online privacy and security. Since browser fingerprinting has gained popularity among many websites and advertising companies, researchers have been developing ways to counteract its effectiveness by creating programs that lie to fingerprinters or override a browser's innate properties in order to protect users' true identities. Our project proposes that by adding randomization to the canvas attribute in a Chromium browser, fingerprinting scripts will be rendered less effective. We compare our countermeasure (the canvas modifications) to a previous study, Privaricator that focused on randomization in other attributes in Chromium. We reimplement Privaricator's modifications into the newest version of Chromium source code and implement our canvas modifications into a separate Chromium source code. We then test Privaricator and our countermeasure against several fingerprinters to obtain repeatability rates to determine and compare the success of each countermeasure. We also test both countermeasures against Panopticlick's online fingerprinting test to determine detectability of both countermeasures. We found that both countermeasures have the same repeatability rates when tested against fingerprinters, but Panopticlick was able to detect randomization in our countermeasure and not in Privaricator. We discuss future improvements to our countermeasure to potentially prevent detectability. We also discuss the effects on appearance of webpages, since canvas is a visible component on some websites.
Quiogue, Rianna, "Preventing Browser Fingerprinting by Randomizing Canvas" (2019). Honors Theses. 2343.