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Report: NSA Uses Google Cookies to Track

by: Bryon Turcotte  /  December 12, 2013


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.

Read more about this controversial subject and more about the NSA's use of tracking cookies in the full article here at the Tech News World website.

Written by Bryon Turcotte  /  December 12, 2013