Digital Identity And the Best Guide to Controlling It on Web in 2023
It is no secret that websites collect data about their visitors. The reasons advanced for this practice, known as website tracking, vary from one party to another.
Generally, however, sites collect this data in order to provide targeted advertisements, measure the success of marketing campaigns (by tracking unique traffic), improve and tailor the user experience, and track converted leads.
Regardless of the distinctness of the various reasons, what bears true and similar is the fact that tracking entails creating a digital identity.
What is Digital Identity?
Digital identity refers to the virtual representation or profile that best and uniquely describes a website’s or mobile application’s visitor.
This identity is created using contextual information collected about a visitor. And there are several ways websites gather this information
How Websites Source Digital Information
The various methods websites use to gather digital information include:
- Cookies or HTTP cookies: They are small pieces of text-based files that websites send to the browser. The browser then stores this information for a given period or throughout the session on a website. Once the visitor logs in to the website again, the browser attaches the cookies to future requests. This way, the cookies inform the website of the user’s identity, helping it tailor the user experience.
- User Agent HTTP headers: Request HTTP headers are sent alongside HTTP/HTTPS requests and contain information about the request. They also include User Agents that feature data specific to the user. This data includes the browser and version used, the device, the operating system (OS), and the version of the OS.
- Browser fingerprinting: Browser fingerprinting takes on a broader approach to data collection. This is because it entails the collection of data such as the language you use, browser type and version, whether you have cookies switched on, device model, version of the OS, keyboard layout, time zone, screen resolution, specs of the CPU and GPU, whether you are using an ad blocker, other extensions/plugins used, active settings, and more.
Of these methods, browser fingerprinting is used to create an accurate digital identity of the user that can be tracked across multiple browsing sessions.
In addition, the identity is not affected by whether a user deletes the history or uses the browser’s incognito/private browsing mode (as is the case with cookies).
The sheer amount of data that makes browser fingerprinting happen is mind-blowing, especially because it results in unique digital identities. In fact, multiple studies have shown that about 80-90% of browser fingerprints are unique.
Even more concerning, the unique fingerprint can be linked to existing user profiles that unscrupulous data brokers hold about you and then sell to the highest bidder.
Fortunately, you can deal with this issue using various methods and approaches, including anti-detect browsers like Incogniton. Check this Oxylabs guide to integrate proxies with this tool.
How to Control Your Digital Identity
There are two mains you can use to reduce or altogether stop fingerprinting, thereby enabling you to control your digital identity. These include:
Some developers have created browser extensions for major browsers. These plugins feature tracker protection that allows you to seamlessly browser privately regardless of the browser you are using. Specifically, they block trackers, facilitate private searches, and provide an added layer of encryption.
Privacy-focused mobile applications
Privacy-focused mobile applications are designed to prevent fingerprinting on mobile devices. Like the browser extensions, these apps block trackers, promote private search, and provide encryption, enabling you to browse privately.
According to some experts, anti-detect browsers are your best bet when you want to prevent fingerprinting in its entirety. This comes against a backdrop of a 2019 study that revealed that most anti-fingerprinting technologies are ineffective.
There are different anti-detect browsers, each with specific underlying functionality and attributes. Generally, however, they prevent browser fingerprinting by allowing you to create multiple ‘fake’ fingerprints.
You can then select one of these fingerprints, which is then supplied to websites. In this way, the anti-detect browser provides fake digital identities.
Some anti-detect browsers also boast additional beneficial attributes. For instance, Incogniton generates the fingerprints, relieving you of the need to create the fingerprints manually.
It also enables you to access and manage multiple browser profiles. You can also access your browser profiles from all your devices as it supports data synchronization.
What’s more, Incogniton supports proxy integration. This adds an extra layer of protection by boosting your online anonymity.
You can integrate Incogniton with a reliable and reputable proxy service provider that offers rotating proxies, for example. Thus, the assigned IP address will change periodically, further preventing browser fingerprinting.
Companies are increasingly tracking their customers under the guise of improving the user experience or providing more targeted ads.
The tracking process, however, entails collecting numerous datasets, which are often invasive and raise privacy concerns.
Fortunately, you can take control of your digital identities using tools such as privacy-focused mobile applications, browser plugins, or anti-detect browsers. Of these three options, anti-detect browsers such as Incogniton are the best.
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