Can you Be Identified By Your Clickprint?

Dennis Faas's picture

Recent research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California suggests that you can be accurately distinguished by your "clickprint" while surfing the web.

So... What is a Clickprint?

Professor Balaji Padmanabhan, a clickprint researcher, defines a clickprint as a "unique pattern of web surfing behavior based on actions such as the number of pages viewed per session, the number of minutes spent on each page, the time or day of the week the page is visited, and so on." Like a fingerprint, a clickprint is unique to you and only you. (Source:

People Have Unique Web Browsing Behaviors

In a recently released research paper, Professor Padmanabhan and his colleague Professor Catherine Yang, propose that it is possible to accurately differentiate between two unknown surfers over a number of web surfing sessions (between three and sixteen). (Source:

Helping to Prevent Internet Fraud

This research could have implications for enhancing the prevention of Internet fraud. For instance, if a person signed into a web service using a user ID, but their clickprint did not match what is on file, it might be an indication of stolen identity.

Clickprints may now be able to join other forms of data that identify us online -- but will users view them as an invasion of privacy? Web users may be happy to know that clickprint tracking would be used to ensure their identity remains safe. Padmanabhan suggests that "if Amazon or a credit card company that can track everything you do uses clickprints, the perception is different because you expect it." (Source:

Although the research may bring about positive enhancements in the way we prevent online identify theft and fraud, the researchers admit that more investigation is needed. Tracking clickprints may raise concerns about privacy and may pose a danger to Web users and e-companies. (Source:

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