FBI, CIA and NSA use adblockers to prevent data theft

by Kelvin
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Afraid of malicious programs masquerading as online advertisements that might collect sensitive data, US federal intelligence agencies are using ad blockers on their devices. The information is in a letter sent by Congress to the government’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Wednesday (22).

In the document, obtained from the website Motherboard, Senator Ron Wyden reports that the Intelligence Community (IC) has deployed adblockers on a large scale to mitigate potential malicious advertising threats. Entities such as the FBI, the CIA and the US National Security Agency (NSA) are part of the IC, among others.

“I write to encourage the OMB to protect federal networks from foreign spies and criminals who misuse online advertising for hacking and surveillance, setting clear new rules for agencies in its future zero-trust cybersecurity policy,” Wyden reported.

  

The senator further explained that the IC uses multi-layered, information-based, network-based ad blocking technologies, including domain name system data, to block unwanted and malicious advertising content. In this way, entities protect themselves from advertisements aimed at them with the intention of stealing data.

Data sent to “high risk markets”

The letter also details an investigation carried out by the US Senate into threats caused by adware (programs that display advertisements without the user’s authorization). According to Wyden, the report revealed that the data collected through the ads is exported to “high-risk markets”, mentioning China and Russia among them.

Faced with the possibility of misuse of this information, Congress proposed to the OMB to impose the use of adblockers in all federal agencies in the country. The document implies that many entities will only protect their systems if they are forced to.