Yinzhi Cao and Song Li have been working on a new technology at the security lab at Lehigh University. This technology allows websites to create device fingerprints in order to track a user even if they switch browsers or use a VPN. They use a method that runs certain scripts on a browser which tests a device’s hardware, such as the GPU and CPU performance. According to their research, their scripts can “successfully identify 99.24% of users”.
While this technology is very worrying, especially those concerned with protecting their privacy, there are positive features. According to the research paper, this technology “can be used as part of stronger multi-factor user authentications”.
The future of online tracking may be very different. Right now, you can create an incognito window to trick a website into thinking you are a different user. You can add another layer of protection to change your identity by using a VPN. With this technology, advertisers will be able to identify your device in every browser, even in you change your IP address and use incognito mode. The NSA and hackers could also use the technology in frightening ways. Until then, you will be at the mercy of advertisers, but hopefully, a new way to hide your online identity will be developed.