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The National Security Agency (NSA) is using one type of Google "_cookie_" – known as "_PREF_" – to "_track and hack its targets_, "according to the information contained in an article published on the Tech News World website. The article defines "_PREF_" as a "_tracking cookie_" that stores the preferences of a user and calls it "_a mainstay of the online advertising industry._"
The article indicates that the NSA is sharing information with Tailored Access Operations (TAO), a division of the NSA responsible for gathering intelligence regarding cyber-warfare. According to the article, the transmitted data contains log-in credentials, cookies, and the Google PREFID. According to the report, "_custom-builds software attacks and has software templates to break into common brands of routers, switches and firewalls._."
Several industry experts commented within the article on these reports sharing interesting insight. Marc Gaffan, a co-founder of Incapsula, is quoted in the article saying, "_Cookie data is another layer of information on top of networking data and location data that [government] agencies use to correlate identities, locations and activities into a single profile that can help them assess risk. According to the article,_" Maxim Weinstein, security advisor at Sophos, said, "_The NSA has found a way to use data intended for a different purpose to its advantage_. "
Google cookies have been used to focus on hacking targets "_for some time_, "according to the report. In October, a report published by The Guardian stated that "_NSA and its UK counterpart, GCHQ, were using cookies for Google's DoubleClick online advertising service to identify users of the Tor online anonymizer_" according to information in the article.
Written by Bryon Turcotte / December 12, 2013