''Cover Your Tracks'' say that my browser has a unique fingerprint

Terminal Velocity

Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2021
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I tried both with FireFox ESR hardened and LibreWolf default and the results were the same: ''Your browser has a nearly-unique fingerprint''. I did a reading there and they suggest Tor and Brave which the one is unusable and the other (Brave) I don't like it, the crypto things ... How can I improve my fingerprint in FireFox?


With the 'Canvas Blocker' addon with Firefox I get: 'Your browser has a nearly-unique fingerprint'. I suppose nearly unique is a small improvement over unique.
(Brave) I don't like it, the crypto things ... How can I improve my fingerprint in FireFox?
By the crypto things you mean this:

It is as simple as can be....Turn them off.

The "secret" to brave is....spend a great deal of time studying and thinking about the individual settings and what effect they each have on you and your likes/dislikes

Once that has been done, it is miles ahead of firefox etc etc
It is probably a good two hours of work, but well worth it.

I used to find in Firefox that the more they developed it, the more extensions I needed to do every damn thing....the end result was not impressive and the extensions slowed the browser down in an unacceptable manner.
I will try Brave, I think it is better to have 2 browsers so I will use it together with FF ESR, I trust EFF and the results of ''Cover Your Tracks'' tool are undeniable for me
@Terminal Velocity :-

I will try Brave, I think it is better to have 2 browsers so I will use it together with FF ESR


I use Chrome.....and Brave.....and Iron.....and Slimjet.....and Ungoogled Chromium. I occasionally use Opera.....and Vivaldi.....and if I'm feeling REALLY brave (or foolhardy!), I'll even play around with Yandex browser. (@Condobloke - ya think it takes time to set-up Brave? Yandex makes THAT look like a walk in the park; this thing near as dammit has a hot-line direct to the KGB.....it won't even let you save anything locally, everything must be saved to a 'cloud' a/c, where the officers of Russian State Security are free to pick over your data at their leisure!!! You have never seen so many ridiculous wee options in your life; in many cases, disabling one option then re-enables others you've previously already disabled. It IS possible to disable everything, but it takes hours to figure out just the right order in which to do so.....)

Hardly worth the bother; at the end of the day, it's simply another 'average' Chromium-based 'clone', when all's said & done. Nowt special about it.

Nightmare, I tell ya....oh, and talkin' of nightmares, I even package up Edge 4 Linux - for those who are daft enough (or desperate enough) to want to use the thing.....! :p

I also use FF (mainline), FF (ESR), LibreWolf, Pale Moon, and on rare occasions, even Tor. Also "New Moon", which is a special, SSE-only build of Pale Moon for very, very old processors without even SSE2 instructions (think AMD's 'Barton'-cored Athlon XP & Intel's 'Katmai' Pentium II.....and then work backwards in time from there.)


Why so many browsers? Simple, TBH. These are all items I package up in 'portable' format for the 'Puppy' community, so most of 'em are sitting around in my large 'work area', in various states of undress.....and for many of them, I even test the 'beta' and/or 'dev' builds (just to see what's coming down the tubes, like.)

You can NEVER have too many browsers, even so.

Mike. :rolleyes::D
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Why so many browsers? Simple, TBH. These are all items I package up in 'portable' format for the 'Puppy' community, so most of 'em are sitting around in my large 'work area', in various states of undress.....and for many of them, I even test the 'beta' and/or 'dev' builds (just to see what's coming down the tubes, like.)

You can NEVER have too many browsers, even so
You do work for the community, but for normal use I think 2 browsers are enough, and no Yandex of course
How can I improve my fingerprint in FireFox?
From the "Learn more about fingerprinting" link on the Cover Your Tracks page, it says this:
For day-to-day use, the best options are to run tools like Privacy Badger or Disconnect that will block some (but unfortunately not all) of the domains that try to perform fingerprinting, and/or to use a tool like NoScript( for Firefox), which greatly reduces the amount of data available to fingerprinters.

Here are my test results using Firefox with NoScript, Privacy Badger, and uBlock Origin:

NoScript may not achieve this result by itself... it may be helped by choosing other more strict settings in Firefox also, something I always try to do. It may be helped by Privacy Badger too, I don't know. NoScript, Privacy Badger, and uBlock Origin are the only extensions I use.

NoScript is not the only way. You can go into Firefox about:config and change javascript.enabled from true to false. This will help get a "Yes" on the "Protecting you from fingerprinting" test results too.

Either way, you will break almost all websites that you visit. Better privacy comes at a cost, and this is it. NoScript is the better choice, rather than totally disabling javascript, in my opinion, because you can allow scripts that are essential to your daily computer needs, like online banking.

But it takes time and patience to train NoScript. For example, when I log into MyBank.com, I will allow scripts only from MyBank.com to start, then test if the site works properly. If not, I'll look at the other scripts they are trying to load and test them one-at-a-time until I get the proper functions of my bank's services. I only allow the scripts that are necessary to make the site work, but it takes some effort to figure this out. You can permanently allow scripts that you discover are necessary, and you can export your list of allowed scripts... so you can back them up and import again later when changing OS or installing on a new computer.

Another thing you'll find using NoScript... after you allow the first script (the top level domain usually) then suddenly many more scripts are trying to load that weren't there before. For example, if I go to CNN.com news site, it starts by trying to load just 4 scripts (cnn.com, chartbeat.com, cloudflare.com, and optimizely.com). After I allow cnn.com only, the page greatly improves in displaying its content, but NoScript now shows me that CNN wants to load 18 more scripts! Sometimes these added scripts may be needed for functionality, but often these are the trackers and fingerprinters you are trying to avoid.

Privacy-versus-convenience or security-versus-convenience is something you have to decide every day. But we all have different needs, different goals, and different ideas about what is best.

I'm content with Firefox, and I hope that I can stay content with them. I really do not want a situation where every browser is based on Chromium and we have no other choices. We are not far from that now.

I use Chromium and Vivaldi too... because sometimes I can't get Firefox/NoScript to display some pages that are important to me. I've tried Brave and don't care for it. I refuse to use Google Chrome.
I've tried Brave and don't care for it. I refuse to use Google Chrome.
Thank you for the insights, I use uBO and Privacy Badger and with that two I tasted FF in the original post. After reading your post I added NoScript and I had the same results as you, 3 Yeses, but the internet is broken with NoScript... it needs training I know

I'm really interested on your views on Brave, I recently installed it for second browser, What it is that you don't like in Brave?
Brave is a well known and well regarded browser, especially for its privacy and ad-blocking abilities. It's quite popular, and I mean no disrespect to those who prefer it. My trial of Brave was brief, and it might easily be said that I did not give it a fair chance. It's a good browser, it's fast, and it has features that many people appreciate, although I think that everyone interested in Brave (or using it) should read the Brave Wikipedia page in full. But try it... by all means, explore Brave yourself. Give it a better test than I did. You may love it.

The turn-offs for me...

I don't want my browser to be a "financial device"... a tool for financial transactions... baked into the browser itself. Not even if I can disable it. The Basic Attention Tokens (BAT), Brave Rewards, Brave Wallet, and Brave Swap are too much for me. It speaks too much to Brave's priorities in this direction. I simply want my browser to be my secure access to financial tools, my means of connecting to money... and not the tool for moving money. It's a hook I don't want Brave, or any browser, to have.

I am skeptical of the Brave installation method. Why are they not in the repos of the major Linux distros? Sure, someone may find an explanation, but that's not really my point. It's a strong preference for me to use apps from repos rather than snaps, flatpaks, appimages, PPA's, and so on... and Brave falls into these categories. These are widely used methods and are gaining more and more popularity, but not for me. I will use these other methods when necessary, but mostly at a minimum to meet my needs.

I'm not really a big fan of Brendan Eich, Brave's creator and CEO.

And lastly, this is just a gut feeling... I sense too much "hype" around Brave. I've seen tons of articles and YouTube videos singing its praises. Too much of this can have the opposite effect on me and causes suspicion. As the old saying goes, "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is." Again, I would suggest people carefully read the Brave Wikipedia page to consider both its attributes and its criticisms.

I am rather "old school" in my thinking, I guess. Other people want their browsers to do more, while I prefer less. I can install a brand new Firefox and complete the changes in Settings that I want in just a few minutes time. I much prefer Firefox's simplicity in this respect. The Settings in Chromium based browsers takes me far longer to finish, digging into layer after layer, and I probably miss some.

I am even more "old school" with my smartphone (no, not a flip phone! not yet! haha). I uninstall every app that my phone will let me uninstall. I disable many or most of those that are left, including Google Chrome. I do not install any apps that move money... no banking apps, no Venmo, or others. I install very few apps, but Firefox is one of them, used daily in private mode for news, weather, etc. I use some Google apps, but they too I try to minimize... Gmail sits unused, but I don't install other email clients on the phone. All email and money activities are on my desktop or laptop only, where I have far more trust in Linux than Android.

A lot of people complain that Firefox is slow. But, luckily, for whatever reason, that has never been a problem for me that I can recall. I don't care about speed benchmarks, only that web pages load in a reasonable amount of time, which may be more influenced by my internet connection quality than the browser.

Most people won't use NoScript. Most people won't use Tails or Tor. And, well... we all know which browsers most people use, and which operating systems most people use. It's a wide, wide range between what some folks will trust with their online privacy and security versus what other folks will trust. There is no right or wrong, just your own comfort and trust levels.
Here are the results of the "Cover Your Tracks" browser checks on a few browsers on a machine here with most of the installations using default settings, as noted:

firefox-119 - (HEAVILY MODIFIED)
Result: unique fingerprint

librewolf appimage 119.0-5 (DEFAULT SETTINGS)
Result: nearly-unique fingerprint

ungoogled chromium 118.0.5993.117-1.1 (DEFAULT SETTINGS)
Result: unique fingerprint

palemoon 32.4.1 (DEFAULT SETTINGS)
Result: unique fingerprint

mullvad 13.0.1 (DEFAULT SETTINGS)
Result: nearly unique fingerprint

brave 1.6.23 (DEFAULT SETTINGS)
Result: randomised fingerprint

Result: nearly unique fingerprint

Result: unique fingerprint

Evidently from my computer, the default settings on most browsers are distinctive, except for brave.

Noteworthy is what standards are being used for measurement:
Within our dataset of several hundred thousand visitors tested in the past 45 days,

It's a biased sample because it's only based on visitors to the site, and on a time limited variable.

It's very difficult to know what the consequences or implications are of the results, or what they actually mean in practical terms. What does it suggest about the bots and programs that are used by the companies that gather information for the purposes of targeting users with advertisements, or for other more nefarious purposes?

One may think that because a browser has a unique fingerprint, that it's more likely to be targeted, but is that really the case? Discovering whether one is actually being targeted more or less because of the "uniqueness of the fingerprint", is really a whole different research question that would require a particular research design with a specific methodology to try and support that hypothesis, with the first problem being the determination of the validity of the variable "uniqueness of the fingerprint".

In actual practice using the brave browser here, with its "randomised fingerprint", it is free of advertisements. That's because it blocks them. Since the user of the browser doesn't have any simple way to determine whether or not that particular browser has been picked up by a bot for targeting, the meaning and consequences of "fingerprinting" are practically indeterminable for the ordinary user. In other words, the user of brave doesn't know whether it's the "fingerprint" that stops ads or the adblocker, or whether their browser has been identified by a bot or not.
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One may think that because a browser has a unique fingerprint, that it's more likely to be targeted, but is that really the case?

I think I can touch on that.

AFAIK, some advertisers just use cookies and some may also use tracking pixels. That collective information is enough to develop an adequate profile for pushing ads. You're mostly squished into a specific demographic and the people paying for ads pay to target that segment.

They simply don't need to fingerprint your browser.

That's just advertisers. There's a certain large CDN that might be doing some fingerprinting when configured a certain way. I don't know if they store or sell that data, but I doubt they do the latter.

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