Our mobile devices and our computers both feature the use of GPUs in their hardware. This is used to help render graphics and videos whether you’re trying to edit a video or play games. However, it seems that GPUs have another potential nefarious use and that is to track your activity on the internet.
This is according to researchers from various universities around the world such as Israel, Australia, and France, who wrote in their paper a potential new way of fingerprinting the activities of users on the web.
According to the researchers, it seems that a unique identifier can be created from each user’s GPU stack. This means that even though there might be thousands or millions of users around the world using the same GPU, the slight manufacturing differences in each of them can create a unique fingerprint.
This is measured by seeing how long it takes for a device’s GPU to resolve certain visual elements using WebGL, and based on that, it could create an identifier for your particular device. At the moment, cookies are still the preferred method of tracking, but as companies like Apple and Google have started to block cookies and make tracking difficult, companies have had to find alternative ways of tracking users.
The researchers have since disclosed their findings to various companies like Google, Brave, and Mozilla, as well as the Khronos group which is the consortium behind WebGL.