Everyone is Different: Client-side Diversification for Defending Against Extension Fingerprinting


Erik Trickel, Arizona State University; Oleksii Starov, Stony Brook University; Alexandros Kapravelos, North Carolina State University; Nick Nikiforakis, Stony Brook University; Adam Doupé, Arizona State University


Browser fingerprinting refers to the extraction of attributes from a user's browser which can be combined into a near-unique fingerprint. These fingerprints can be used to re-identify users without requiring the use of cookies or other stateful identifiers. Browser extensions enhance the client-side browser experience; however, prior work has shown that their website modifications are fingerprintable and can be used to infer sensitive information about users.

In this paper we present CloakX, the first client-side anti-fingerprinting countermeasure that works without requiring browser modification or requiring extension developers to modify their code. CloakX uses client-side diversification to prevent extension detection using anchorprints (fingerprints comprised of artifacts directly accessible to any webpage) and to reduce the accuracy of extension detection using structureprints (fingerprints built from an extension's behavior). Despite the complexity of browser extensions, CloakX automatically incorporates client-side diversification into the extensions and maintains equivalent functionality through the use of static and dynamic program analysis. We evaluate the efficacy of CloakX on 18,937 extensions using large-scale automated analysis and in-depth manual testing. We conducted experiments to test the functionality equivalence, the detectability, and the performance of CloakX-enabled extensions. Beyond extension detection, we demonstrate that client-side modification of extensions is a viable method for the late-stage customization of browser extensions.

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@inproceedings {236324,
author = {Erik Trickel and Oleksii Starov and Alexandros Kapravelos and Nick Nikiforakis and Adam Doup{\'e}},
title = {Everyone is Different: Client-side Diversification for Defending Against Extension Fingerprinting},
booktitle = {28th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 19)},
year = {2019},
isbn = {978-1-939133-06-9},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
pages = {1679--1696},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity19/presentation/trickel},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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