While cookies — the virtual kind — are the bread and butter for advertisers to deliver tailored marketing based on an individual’s Web movements, a new report reveals the National Security Agency is using them to decide if a target should be hacked for further surveillance.
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The Washington Post reported this latest information from admitted whistleblower Edward Snowden’s massive leak about the spy agency’s practices.
The Post reported, based on NSA presentation slides from Snowden, that the NSA used cookies, specifically a Google one, to look at already suspicious targets.
Here’s how the Post explained it:
According to the documents, the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, are using the small tracking files or “cookies” that advertising networks place on computers to identify people browsing the Internet. The intelligence agencies have found particular use for a part of a Google-specific tracking mechanism known as the “PREF” cookie. These cookies typically don’t contain personal information, such as someone’s name or e-mail address, but they do contain numeric codes that enable Web sites to uniquely identify a person’s browser.
The slides say the cookies are used to “enable remote exploitation,” although the specific attacks used by the NSA against targets are not addressed in these documents.
A missing piece of information is just how the NSA obtains the cookies’ information, but the Post reported it is likely done with a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order.
Latest Snowden Revelation: NSA Uses Google Cookies Against Targets | TheBlaze.com.