NSA and other federal agencies use ad blockers

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Image from article titled Even NSA Agrees: Targeted Ads Are Terrifying

Photo: Samuel corum (Getty Images)

Ad blockers. Maybe you like them, maybe you don’t think about it at all, but chances are, you know Someone who uses them. And it turns out that a growing number of these people are in the federal ranks.

The motherboard was first to report on a new letter Oregon Senator Ron Wyden sent to the Bureau of Management and Budget (OMB) Wednesday which describes some of the federal agencies deploy ad blocking technology alongside reasonable enough demand for agencies not currently on board: Usea fucking ad blocker. Please.

“I have urged successive administrations to respond more appropriately to surveillance threats, including those from foreign governments and criminals exploiting online advertising to hack federal systems,” Wyden wrote in the statement. letter. And indeed, thanks to massive scandals like Cambridge Analytica and the smallest privacy scandals that keep coming in its wake, it seems some agencies are finally agreeing that targeted ads are terrifying. In 2018, the National Security Agency (NSA) published public orientation urging its ranks to block “unnecessary advertising web content”. In January of this year, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released similar advice for all federal agencies, urging officials to use a d blockers to protect against malware-laden ads, in particular.

“Adversaries can use carefully designed and tailored malicious ads as part of a targeted campaign against a specific victim, and not just as broad spectrum attacks.” CISA Guide bed.

This letter may be new, but the threat is certainly not. We have seen malicious advertising campaigns targeting military bases in 2014swing-state voters in 2018, well, a bunch the rest of us since then. When ads start to creep in every digital avenue where we spend time online, it is only natural that advertisements containing malware or other shady material are also on the rise, too much.

As Wyden’s letter states, this includes “seemingly harmless online advertisements” which contain software designed to “steal, modify or erase sensitive government data, or record conversations by remotely activating the built-in microphone. ”

And then there are the many, many other privacy issues. Each ad loaded in a browser means more data is sent back to businesses on the other side, even if that ad is intended for something ridiculous that you would never have clicked in a billion years. There are no strict rules for what is sent in the so-called “bidstream” on the other side of this ad, but it generally includes details such as your location, IP address, and the type of device. Ad blockers are far from perfect, and can collect that kind of data about you too, but at least you know what business is on the other side. The digital advertising ecosystem is a opaque and under-regulated mess, making it difficult to identify a shady advertising company that is skimming your data. When an ad blocking company do the same (Where worse), at least you’ve got a business to be mad at and a browser extension you can remove.

It’s likely that the NSA has known all of this, and has known it for some time, which is why they were the first to jump on the ad blocking bandwagon. After all, this is the same agency that brought us Edward Snowden, and Snowden’s revelations about the NSA. the whole empire of telephone follow-up. In the years that followed, this empire continue to to grow, even after the passage of the Freedom Act of 2015 that devastated the way federal agencies exploit telecommunications data. But this law applied to telecoms, not marketing companies or ad technology companies that leverage the same data by design and have sold data to federal agencies in the years following Snowden’s revelations, and this business seems to be going gangbusters. Hell, Wyden asked the NSA about this specific flaw less than a year ago, and they responded with … well, do not answer.

Will ad blockers get in the way? Who knows! What we do know is the technology privacy laws in the United States.S. becomes more and more fractured and ineffective disorder– and the longer we get stuck with this bleeding sore in tech politics, the more a browser extension looks like a pretty weak bandage.


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