The Nerd Side Of Life

Browser Fingerprinting: How Can It Flag Fraudsters?

We can all agree that the Internet makes our lives a lot easier. It helps us with our banking, it connects us with other people, we can shop, study, arrange holidays and even view houses if we are moving. All this has become more important since the start of Covid 19 pandemic which forced us to spend even more time indoors and consequently online. 

But there is also the bad side of the Internet speed and accessibility and that is that all the benefits that we can reap from the Internet, the fraudsters can also use. Not so long ago, fraudsters were limited to paper-based schemes which made them easier to catch, but with the opportunity and anonymity the internet provided them they have become a top concern to businesses and institutions everywhere. In 2020 the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 791,790 cybercrime complaints which is an increase of 69% compared to 2019.  That is the highest number of complaints they received since they opened the center. 

Not only should fraud be on the minds of every business or organization, regardless of their size, but also all individuals should know how to keep themselves safe online. One of the ways you can help to prevent fraud is by using browser fingerprinting which helps to stop the fraudsters before they get the chance to do any damage. As discussed here on browser fingerprinting, it might be a powerful security tool but at the same time, all the businesses and organizations that use it need to be aware that it is not a foolproof method. It needs to be combined with additional security levels in order to bring the entire system to a new level. Cyber fraudsters will always find new ways to work around the security measures you put in place, which is why businesses need to find a way to stay one step ahead.

What is Browser Fingerprinting?

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Browser fingerprinting is a process of websites collecting various information about you so you can be uniquely identified among other internet users. The information that they are collecting can come from hundreds of different variables such as which operating system and platform are you using, what is your time zone and language settings, your system fonts and keyboard layout, browser local databases and a lot more. Considering how many variables are taken in the accounts it makes sense that your browser fingerprint can be as unique as your own fingerprint.

To make it simpler, think about it in the example of the lost jacket. You lost your jacket and you are trying to find it. You can just say your jacket is a blue Zara jacket, but that doesn’t make it easy to find as there are a large number of the same jacket. Browser fingerprint equivalent of your description would be: “blue Zara jacket with pink fur, with 2 pockets, receipt from Starbucks in the right pocket and a rainbow patch just above the left side pocket. You can see now how all this uniqueness makes it easier to find and confirm that is your jacket. That is in simplest terms how browser fingerprinting works.

How can it flag fraudsters?

Device or browser fingerprinting is already being used in most businesses or institutions in some way, but lots of them are not aware about the potential it has to fight against fraud. Most of them will only use browser fingerprinting for marketing or analytics purposes. By using it they can track activities of the customers, target them with personalized ads and also they can identify any potential for improving customer experience. 

But all the benefits that make it a great marketing tool, also make it a powerful fraud prevention tool. By using browser fingerprinting you can not only identify loyal customers, but by doing so you can flag any suspicious connections, recognize spoofing attacks and block any account takeover attempts. In many types of cyber-frauds, the success of it depends on cyber-criminal ability to appear as a legitimate user or customer and with browser fingerprinting that is hard to do. In standard account takeover fraud, the fraudster will log in and take over the user’s account, and exploit that access either by making purchases or transferring funds. But device fingerprinting will recognize that this access has come from a different location, browser and device then the previous log-ins and it will ask for two-factor authentications, notify the account owner or restrict the account. This helps stop fraud in the root and also saves the companies from having to do damage control after the cyber-attacks.

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