GPU fingerprints might raise some privacy issues in the future. Researchers have come forward with an identification method for users based on GPU- generated browser fingerprints.
User identification prevents bot network attacks as well as tracks users and keeps a record of their preferences to present them with the advertisement of their interests on their browsers. According to the law, publishers must take the user’s consent. But plenty of organizations go against the law and keep coming up with ways to track their users without their consent.
Researchers confirm GPU fingerprints are the latest user identification method with high precision and accuracy. The method has proved to be 67% more accurate than other methods. The WebGL 2.0 APU fingerprints the GPU in around 8 seconds, but the new web APIs will limit this time to as low as 150ms, thus increasing the accuracy by up to 98%.
The fingerprint method is based on hardware identification, GPUs to be precise. They exploit the possibility of measuring a vector containing various calculations that can later be used to verify the user. Researchers claim that removing and replacement of some components will have zero effect on the ‘classifier’, which basically helps in tracking the user.
“To reinforce our claim that the classification results are due to differences in the behavior of the GPUs, and not due to some residual differences among the computers, we selected two GEN 3 computers, physically swapped their hard drives, and re-ran the fingerprinting classifier. As expected, the fingerprinting classifier was not misled by the hard disk transplant, and was still able to label each of the two computers according to their CPU. Next, we returned the hard drives to their original locations, and physically swapped the CPUs with integrated graphics of the two systems. As expected, the classifier followed the transplanted CPU, even though all other hardware was unmodified.”
— Research Paper
This particular fingerprint method is based on WebGL 2.0 API which has no active support now after the advent of its successor WebGPU. Despite being under active development, no browser supports any stable edition of WebGPU. WebGL 2.0, on the other hand, is still in use by some of the big names such as IKEA or Google Maps.