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Towards Understanding Privacy Implications of Adware and Potentially Unwanted Programs

  • Web advertisements are the primary financial source for many online services, but also for cybercriminals. Successful ad campaigns rely on good online profiles of their potential customers. The financial potentials of displaying ads have led to the rise of malware that injects or replaces ads on websites, in particular, so-called adware. This development leads to always further optimized and customized advertising. For these customization's, various tracking methods are used. However, only sparse work has gone into privacy issues emerging from adware. In this paper, we investigate the tracking capabilities and related privacy implications of adware and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). Therefore, we developed a framework that allows us to analyze any network communication of the Firefox browser on the application level to circumvent encryption like TLS. We use this to dynamically analyze the communication streams of over 16,000 adware or potentially unwanted programs samples that tamper with the users' browser session. Our results indicate that roughly 37% of the requests issued by the analyzed samples contain private information and are accordingly able to track users. Additionally, we analyze which tracking techniques and services are used.

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Author:Tobias Urban, Dennis Tatang, Thorsten Holz, Norbert Pohlmann
Parent Title (English):Computer Security. ESORICS 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science
Editor:Javier Lopez, Jianying Zhou, Miguel Soriano
Document Type:Conference Proceeding
Date of Publication (online):2018/12/20
Year of first Publication:2018
Publishing Institution:Westfälische Hochschule Gelsenkirchen Bocholt Recklinghausen
Release Date:2019/01/02
First Page:449
Last Page:469
Departments / faculties:Institute / Institut für Internetsicherheit
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das Urheberrechtsgesetz

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