The case for browser fingerprinting: personalizing user experience, improving fraud detection, and optimizing login security
Have you ever heard of browser fingerprinting? You should! It's an online user identification technique that collects information about a visitor's web browser and its configuration preferences to associate individual browsing sessions with a single website visitor.
With browser fingerprinting, many pieces of data can be collected about a user's web browser and device, such as screen resolution, location, language, and operating system. When you stitch these pieces together, they reveal a unique combination of information that forms every user's visitor ID or "digital fingerprint." Websites can use the visitor ID in various ways, including personalizing the user's experience, improving fraud detection, and optimizing login security.
This article discusses the case for browser fingerprinting and how to use it safely on your website.
Personalizing user experience
Providing users with a seamless, tailored website experience helps reduce bounce rates, improve conversion rates, and increase sales and revenue. Browser fingerprinting identifies every user's unique visitor ID associated with their sessions, even if they're days or weeks apart. So, when a user visits a website, the website can use the unique visitor ID to tailor the website's content to that specific returning user.
For example, suppose a user visits once and adds multiple items to their shopping cart. In that case, the website remembers the items the next time the user visits, and can also offer a limited-time promotional code to reduce the likelihood of shopping cart abandonment.
Here are a few more examples of how you can use browser and device fingerprinting for personalization:
Remember a user's dark or light mode browser preferences
It's well documented that visitors that use a "dark mode" prefer it to prevent eye strain and keep them on a website longer than if they used a light or standard mode. Typically, a visitor's site preferences are stored in session or local storage, which does not persist between browsing modes (standard and incognito). With browser fingerprinting, websites can detect visitors' preferences and automatically deliver the correct light or dark method.
Stored shopping carts
Identifying persistent items in a visitor's shopping cart can reduce sales lost to shopping cart abandonment. Remembering shopping carts from days up to weeks can also decrease checkout time for return visitors, which utilizes the visitor ID to collect all stored items in carts with the same visitor ID.
Saving purchase and browsing history
Saving product purchases and browsing history can help drive sales from return visitors by streamlining repurchases or accessing past searches. Typical cookie-based solutions become ineffective when a visitor switches from a normal to private browsing mode (or vice versa). Browser fingerprinting can associate previously ordered and viewed items with the visitor ID and show them upon a visitor's subsequent return to help simplify the online shopping experience.
The risk of running eCommerce promotions without user verification is prone to abuse. The traditional method to prevent this kind of abuse requires signing up for a marketing list via an email or phone number. Fortunately, we can streamline this process without adding extra steps for the visitor.
A stable and unique identifier is excellent for assigning promotions to anonymous visitors and preventing duplicate promotion abuse. Furthermore, promotions can be uniquely applied based on specific visit behavior, such as rewarding visitors with free shipping after a certain number of visits to the site of a particular page.
Improving fraud detection
Browser fingerprinting can also help websites improve their fraud detection strategies. For example, suppose a visitor tries to access a website from a device with a different visitor ID than their usual one. In that case, the website can prompt users to verify their identity. Adding a checkpoint helps prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and reduces the risk of fraud, such as account takeover and payment fraud.
A few other ways a highly accurate browser fingerprint like Fingerprint can help a website prevent some of the most common (and costly) types of online fraud:
Payment fraud is a critical issue for businesses that store, handle, or process payment information, such as eCommerce websites. By processing stolen credit card details, fraudsters can leverage your business for money laundering operations or unauthorized goods/services that will create chargebacks.
Chargebacks are when a merchant must return payment for an unauthorized transaction and sometimes incurs a fee. Stolen credit card information or fraudulent chargebacks cost both the consumer and businesses revenue year after year.
Identifying these fraudulent purchases before they become chargebacks is crucial for businesses to save themselves and their customers time and money.
Account sharing prevention
Account sharing has been in the news much more than usual due to companies such as Netflix cracking down on users that share their account credentials with friends and family members instead of each of them paying for their own accounts. If you have an account sharing problem, you likely don't know how big of a problem it really is.
With Fingerprint's account sharing prevention capabilities, we help you reduce account sharing and increase your overall subscription revenue by accurately identifying unique visitors for each account.
Credential stuffing is the automated use of usernames and passwords obtained through hacking methods coordinated by a fraudster performing a credential stuffing attack, or hackers who purchase pre-obtained logins from the dark web.
Preventing credential stuffing is crucial to providing users with a safe, secure, and reliable login experience.
Let's dive deeper into login security to help you better understand how browser fingerprinting can help optimize your login security.
Optimizing login security
Identifying users accurately at login is essential for any software or website that requires users to use an account with their service. User identification helps protect personal information from being accessed by unauthorized individuals, which, in turn, helps prevent fraud or abuse.
There are different levels and methods to implement this, including basic username and password, which should be accompanied by additional forms of identification, including two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA). However, with multiple identification steps comes increased friction for trusted users.
Implementing tools that are not visible to the user can help bridge the gap between secure login methods and more vulnerable login methods. Using highly accurate browser fingerprinting, such as Fingerprint, for user verification provides several benefits over traditional methods:
- Faking a browser fingerprint, part of a device's identity, is much more complicated than other credentials.
- Browser identifiers are always up to date and do not require manual maintenance or renewal like passwords.
- Integrating browser fingerprinting with already established authentication models can provide advanced levels of security by allowing access only to those with compatible and expected devices or operating systems.
Privacy and regulatory compliance
With all solutions that identify users, you want to make sure that you select one that keeps modern security practices and data processing top of mind. Fingerprint, for example, does not collect any personally identifiable information (PII) as part of a visitor ID and does not track users across websites. Additionally, Fingerprint is proud to be ISO 27001 certified and SOC 2 Type II, GDPR, and CCPA compliant.
Browser fingerprinting helps personalize user experiences, improve online security, and optimize login security methods. By collecting data about a user's browser and device, websites can tailor their content to meet users' unique needs, prevent fraud, and improve authentication. Additionally, browser fingerprinting can reduce friction for trusted users during login while maintaining a secure website.
If you want to implement browser fingerprinting on your website, choose a solution that prioritizes data security and privacy, like Fingerprint. With the right approach, browser fingerprinting can be a game-changer in improving the user experience and preventing fraud.