Half Baked: The Opportunity to Secure Cookie-based Identifiers from Passive Surveillance

We are excited to announce the forthcoming publication of a research paper at the 5th USENIX Workshop for Free and Open Communications on the Internet. The paper explores the security levels of the top 500 websites in each category of the Alexa rankings.

We pay particular attention to the security of the embedded ad trackers that transmit unique identifiers. This work is important because network snoops can collect internet traffic in bulk, linking together unencrypted cookies to build out detailed profiles of user’s interests, and “patterns of life”, which can then be used to target specific individuals for intelligence operations. Our paper identifies simple ways that websites can take steps today to better protect the privacy of their readership.

The paper presents research conducted by myself and my Citizen Lab colleague Dr. Christopher Parsons.

Read the paper