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Fingerprinting Mobile Devices Using Personalized Configurations

Andreas Kurtz / Hugo Gascon / Tobias Becker / Konrad Rieck / Felix Freiling
Published Online: 2015-09-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/popets-2015-0027


Recently, Apple removed access to various device hardware identifiers that were frequently misused by iOS third-party apps to track users. We are, therefore, now studying the extent to which users of smartphones can still be uniquely identified simply through their personalized device configurations. Using Apple’s iOS as an example, we show how a device fingerprint can be computed using 29 different configuration features. These features can be queried from arbitrary thirdparty apps via the official SDK. Experimental evaluations based on almost 13,000 fingerprints from approximately 8,000 different real-world devices show that (1) all fingerprints are unique and distinguishable; and (2) utilizing a supervised learning approach allows returning users or their devices to be recognized with a total accuracy of 97% over time

Keywords: Fingerprinting; Apple iOS; Mobile Device; Privacy


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About the article

Received: 2015-04-15

Revised: 2015-07-15

Accepted: 2015-07-15

Published Online: 2015-09-08

Published in Print: 2016-01-01

Citation Information: Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies, Volume 2016, Issue 1, Pages 4–19, ISSN (Online) 2299-0984, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/popets-2015-0027.

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© 2015. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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