FBI, NSA and CIA use blockers for fear of targeted ads

While some companies are looking to make ads more transparent so that users can make more informed decisions about whether or not they should click on ads, there is still a significant threat from malicious ads that are used to collect information or use your device as a surface. attacks to perform other unwanted actions. It turns out that US federal intelligence services such as the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) fear advertising on the Internet as much as anyone else, and use ad blockers to mitigate this potential threat.

According to a letter sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), written by US Senator Ron Wyden and received by Motherboard, the intelligence community (IC) uses ad blockers extensively. For those who don’t know, the intelligence community is made up of a variety of organizations, including the FBI, NSA, CIA, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and others. The letter also contains the following quote from the UK CIO:

The UK has reviewed all recommendations from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Security Agency and implemented enterprise-wide policy and technology controls in line with government guidance and ad blocking best practices. IC has implemented web-based ad blocking technologies and uses information from a variety of layers, including domain name system information, to block unwanted and harmful advertising content.

While this information is not particularly surprising given that it is about the federal intelligence services, it is still interesting to receive additional confirmation of the threat of malicious advertising. Wyden talked about how ad providers use online activity to deliver targeted ads. The senator explained that a recent Senate investigation also showed that this data is being exported to “high risk” markets such as China and Russia, which could then be used for malicious purposes.

The NSA and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have previously provided guidelines encouraging the use of ad blockers. However, federal agencies are currently not required to follow these guidelines. Wyden proposes that the OMB mandate ad blockers on all federal intelligence agencies.

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