Cybercriminal adoption of browser fingerprinting


Browser fingerprinting is certainly one of many techniques phishing web site authors use to evade safety checks and lengthen the lifespan of malicious campaigns.

browser fingerprinting

Whereas browser fingerprinting has been utilized by respectable organizations to uniquely establish internet browsers for practically 15 years, it’s now additionally generally exploited by cybercriminals: a latest research reveals one in 4 phishing websites utilizing some type of this system.

This text will clarify what browser fingerprinting is, present examples, and talk about how it’s used.

Browser fingerprinting defined

Browser fingerprinting makes use of quite a lot of client-side checks to ascertain browser identities, which may then be used to detect bots or different undesirable internet visitors. Quite a few items of knowledge will be collected as part of fingerprinting, together with:

  • Time zone
  • Language settings
  • IP deal with
  • Cookie settings
  • Display screen decision
  • Browser privateness
  • Person-agent string

Browser fingerprinting is utilized by many respectable suppliers to detect bots misusing their companies and different suspicious exercise, however phishing web site authors have additionally realized its advantages and are utilizing the approach to keep away from automated programs which may flag their web site as phishing. By implementing their very own browser fingerprinting controls loading their web site content material, risk actors are in a position to conceal phishing content material in real-time.

For instance, Fortra has noticed risk actors utilizing browser fingerprinting to bypass the Google Advert assessment course of. As a result of Google’s assessment course of is semi-automated, the implementation of browser fingerprint checks allowed risk actors to establish when Google was viewing their advert locations versus a traditional person. If the risk actor suspected exercise from Google, benign content material was displayed. This led to phish experiences getting rejected by Google as a result of no phishing content material might be detected.

Browser fingerprinting examples

Cloudflare’s Bot Struggle Mode is one instance of a respectable supplier utilizing browser fingerprinting strategies to establish and block bots.

browser fingerprinting

Cloudflare’s Bot Struggle Mode makes use of browser fingerprinting strategies to establish and block bots.

Each time an internet site is loaded with Bot Struggle Mode, the JavaScript under runs and sends the outcomes again to Cloudflare. Relying on the outcomes, you’ll both be offered with a captcha or blocked.

browser fingerprinting
browser fingerprinting
browser fingerprinting

Beneath is an instance of one of many browser fingerprinting checks applied on a phishing web site. On the primary load, the location will execute the next encoded JavaScript:

browser fingerprinting

If the JavaScript is decoded, safety groups will see it’s obfuscated and might infer from the strings proven that it’s requesting quite a few browser properties and working checks to see the outcomes.

browser fingerprinting

As soon as the JavaScript finishes, it generates a fingerprint and sends all the knowledge again to the phishing web site the place the outcomes are analyzed by the server. Relying on what it determines, both benign content material or a phishing web site will then be displayed.

Within the instance under, the massive block of textual content incorporates vital quantities of knowledge concerning the browser that’s visiting the web page.

browser fingerprinting

This fingerprint incorporates each property of the browser, together with data on display screen dimensions, working system, GPU {hardware}, time zone, and lots of different information factors. All this data mixed could make it very simple to find out if the browser is actual or an emulator.

The next examples include data that time to bot exercise.

Instance A: There’s a discrepancy between the Platform and the UserAgent, indicating that the UserAgent has been modified.

browser fingerprinting

Instance A

Instance B: The display screen dimensions are conflicting, because the inside values are bigger than the outer values.

browser fingerprinting

Instance B

Instance C: The time zone offset is 0 or UTC, which signifies exercise from a server and never a shopper system. The GPU data additionally reveals that it is a Linux system.

browser fingerprinting

Instance C

Any of the prior examples and knowledge could also be analyzed to find out the chance a customer is a bot. Within the case of the phishing web site above, benign content material can be displayed if the information pulled signifies it isn’t being accessed by an actual browser. This type of detection can establish practically any out of the field browser emulation akin to Curl, Puppeteer, Selenium, or headless Chrome.

Previously, crawlers may simply keep away from detection by leveraging a proxy and altering its UserAgent. Nonetheless, browser fingerprinting could be very efficient at figuring out these automated programs, permitting web site authors to change their web site content material primarily based on the outcomes. Understanding the browser properties criminals are gathering when fingerprinting is vital for safety groups to keep away from suspicion from risk actors.


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