Chrome Extensions Can be Fingerprinted to Track You Online

Each and every day, something new happens in the technology world. It shouldn’t be a surprise that people are thinking up mind-boggling innovations quickly. Researchers recently created a website that uses Google Chrome extensions to create a fingerprint of your device that allows access to track you online.

A web developer named “zoccc” launched a fingerprinting extension named ‘Extension Fingerprints’ that can produce a fingerprinting hash system, depending on the Google Chrome Extensions a user has installed on their specified device. Management of this online tracking from the web depends on various characteristics of the device connected. These include installed applications, GPU performance, device resolution, installed fonts, hardware & security configuration, and much more.

In 2019, it was disclosed that through web-accessible resources, one could track and generate a visitor’s fingerprint based on their installed extensions. According to zoccc, to prevent this detection, some extensions use a private key required to access a web resource.

But the researcher and web developer also discovered that a Resource Timing Comparison technique could also be used to determine if the extensions have been installed on a device. To demonstrate the fingerprinting technique, zoccc created the Extension Fingerprints website that will search for the web-accessible resources used by a visitor’s browser from the almost 1200 popular Chrome extensions available.

The most common extensions the website will determine include:

  • LastPass
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • uBlock
  • Grammarly
  • ColorZilla
  • Rakuten
  • Honey
  • And more!

Visitors with many extensions installed will have a complex fingerprint that can be used to track them while on the web. In contrast, visitors who haven’t installed any extensions will have a fingerprint which won’t be helpful for tracking purposes. However, with continuous development and adding more attributes to this fingerprinting technique, a user’s fingerprint can be enhanced and made unique by making the hashes more distinctive for every user. The Extension Fingerprints site will only work with Chrome browsers and extensions installed from the Chrome Web Store.