NSA uses Google Web browser cookies for targeted hacks - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

NSA uses Google Web browser cookies for targeted hacks, leaked documents reveal

Updated: Dec 11, 2013 03:49 PM
© iStockphoto / Thinkstock © iStockphoto / Thinkstock
  • More NewsMore>>

  • YSU Stem College Dean cut from list of presidential candidates

    YSU Stem College Dean cut from list of presidential candidates

    Thursday, April 24 2014 2:13 PM EDT2014-04-24 18:13:11 GMT
    Dr. Martin AbrahamDr. Martin Abraham
    The Youngstown State UniversityBoard of Trustees has revealed the names of the six finalists seeking the YSU presidency.Althoughformer Ohio State and YSUcoachJim Tresselmade the cut, Dr. Martin Abraham's name is absent from the list.Below are the names submitted by the Youngstown State University Presidential Search Advisory Committee: Mary Cullinan Gary L. Miller Gayle L. Ormiston D. Marshall Porterfield Steven M. Rothstein James P. TresselTressel, who interviews for the University of Akron...More >>
    The Youngstown State UniversityBoard of Trustees has revealed the names of the six finalists seeking the YSU presidency.Althoughformer Ohio State and YSUcoachJim Tresselmade the cut, Dr. Martin Abraham's name is absent from the list.Below are the names submitted by the Youngstown State University Presidential Search Advisory Committee: Mary Cullinan Gary L. Miller Gayle L. Ormiston D. Marshall Porterfield Steven M. Rothstein James P. TresselTressel, who interviews for the University of Akron...More >>
  • Updated

    Hostage released at the Trumbull County Jail

    Hostage released at the Trumbull County Jail

    A five hour hostage situation at the Trumbull County jail ended with the safe release of a corrections guard taken hostage by 3 inmates.
    More >>
    A five hour hostage situation at the Trumbull County jail ended with the safe release of a corrections guard taken hostage by 3 inmates.
    More >>
  • Ohio women held captive seek Joan Rivers' apology

    Ohio women held captive seek Joan Rivers' apology

    (AP) - Attorneys for two women held in a Cleveland home and abused for a decade say Joan Rivers should apologize for comparing living in her daughter's guest room with the captivity they experienced. Rivers and her daughter were discussing their reality show Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show when she complained about her living arrangements, saying, "Those women in the basement in Cleveland had more space." A Wednesday statement from attorneys for Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus calls Ri...More >>
    (AP) - Attorneys for two women held in a Cleveland home and abused for a decade say Joan Rivers should apologize for comparing living in her daughter's guest room with the captivity they experienced. Rivers and her daughter were discussing their reality show Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show when she complained about her living arrangements, saying, "Those women in the basement in Cleveland had more space." A Wednesday statement from attorneys for Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus calls Ri...More >>


By Andrew Couts
Provided by

Think all of those advertising cookies installed on your browser are being used by the government to track people and hack into their computers? You're not paranoid – you're right.

From the latest revelation from the Edward Snowden leaked document cache, the Washington Post reports that the National Security Agency and its sister spy organization in the UK, GCHQ, uses Google Web cookies to identify specific users who are then hit with hacking software.

Google's so-called PREF cookie, which is used to "help personalize ads," according to the company, and for saving user preferences, like default language, is installed on Web users' computers when they use the company's various online services, like Search or Maps. Information collected by the cookie does not include personally identifiable information, like names, but it does generate a unique number, called Google PREFID, that's linked to a specific Web browser.

The NSA is, according to the Washington Post, able to use this number to identify the computer of people it has already pinpointed as someone of interest. It is not clear how the NSA is able to link a PREFID to a specific person, though it may be able to obtain this information through a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) order. According to the leaked documents, the agency does not use Google cookies to monitor Web activity on a broad scale, nor is it hacking into every Web user's computers.

Nearly all websites – including the Washington Post and Digital Trends – use cookies for a variety of purposes, including tracking online activity, serving personalized ads, and collecting traffic analytics data. In other words, Google, which runs the world's largest advertising network, is not alone. But it is the only company identified in the leaked NSA slides (one of which can be seen above). It is not clear if Google is providing the NSA with cookie data, though it would be legally required to do if FISA orders are used. A Google spokesperson says the company is refusing to comment on this report either way.

Google is one of eight technology giants leading a charge against the current state of government surveillance. The Reform Government Surveillance campaign, which urges the U.S. to lead the way in revamping the oversight and transparency of the NSA and the world's other major spy agencies, is also backed by Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, LinkedIn, and Yahoo.

As far as the NSA revelations go, this one may be the least damning due to its specific, limited application. However, it does justify the fears privacy advocates have long warned, that the Web technology used to track all of us can be used for far more than just serving advertisements. So if you haven't already installed cookie-blocking tech, now is as good a time as any.



This article was originally posted on Digital Trends

Content provided by

 

INFORMATIONAL DISCLAIMER The information contained on or provided through this site is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional financial or accounting advice. Always seek the advice of your accountant or other qualified personal finance advisor for answers to any related questions you may have. Use of this site and any information contained on or provided through this site is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms