Even the NSA Agrees: Targeted Ads Are Terrifying

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Even the NSA Agrees: Targeted Ads Are Terrifying
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Ad blockers. Maybe you love them, maybe you don’t think about them at all, but chances are, you know someone that’s using them. And it turns out a growing number of those people are in the federal ranks.


Motherboard was first to report on a new letter Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Wednesday that describes some of the federal agencies deploying ad-blocking tech alongside a pretty reasonable request for those agencies not currently on board: Use a damn ad blocker. Please.

“I have pushed successive administrations to respond more appropriately to surveillance threats, including from foreign governments and criminals exploiting online advertising to hack federal systems,” Wyden wrote the letter. And indeed, thanks to massive scandals like Cambridge Analytica and the smaller privacy scandals that just keep on coming in its wake, it looks like some agencies finally agree that targeted ads are terrifying. In 2018, the National Security Agency (NSA) issued public guidance urging its ranks to block “unnecessary advertising web content.” In January of this year, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) put out similar guidance for all federal agencies, urging officials to use ad blockers to protect against malware-laden ads, in particular.

“Adversaries can use carefully crafted and tailored malicious ads as part of a targeted campaign against a specific victim, not just as broad-spectrum attacks,” CISA’s guide reads.