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The Digital Fingerprints You Leave Behind and How to Clean Them Up

posted on 5 December 2013 | posted in Surveillance

There are two types of "fingerprint" you leave behind - one you can do something about, one you can't.

Server-side digital fingerprints
This is data recorded server-side of all of your movements - the URLs you've visited and how long for. These will be recorded by all kinds of third parties - browsers phoning home your browsing history, the government, the sites you visit. You can't do anything about this as this data is "uncleanable" from your point of view. The one saving grace here is that they can only pin an IP address on you, which doesn't really prove it's YOU who's visited, just someone using your IP address.

However, this article concerns hiding your "digital fingerprints" from a partner or work colleague - client-side digital fingerprints.

Client-side digital fingerprints
Client-side digital fingerprints are the cookies stored in your browser, your browser URL history and cache. Out of any kind of "incognito" mode, your browser is openly recording your movements for your own benefit - so you can more easily return to pages, and also not have to keep downloading the same files from the internet via caching. However, such data is easily available to anyone who has physical access to your browser - perhaps a partner or even a boss at work.

The simple solution is to ensure you learn to browse in incognito mode on your browser, or diligently remove all the privacy-related files (cache, history, cookies) after each browsing session.


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