New documents released by former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden indicate the agency is using Internet cookies in its efforts to hack the computers of suspicious individuals.
NSA's Special Source Operations (SSO) division reportedly focuses primarily on Google's proprietary "PREF" cookie. Google uses PREF cookies to uniquely track users who utilize Google services or visit sites that contain Google Plus "widgets" in order to show them personalized ads. PREF cookies make this possible because they contain numerical codes that enable websites to identify a person's browser. SSO shares this information with NSA's offensive hacking division, Tailored Access Operations, which uses the numerical identifiers to filter out the Internet communications of individuals who are already under suspicion so it can send them malicious software that gives the agency access to their computers. The information gleaned from PREF cookies, which does not contain personal information such as names and email addresses, also is reportedly shared with the U.K.'s Government Communications Headquarters.
The documents do not address the nature of the cyberattacks carried out by the NSA with the help of PREF cookies, and it is unclear how NSA is obtaining PREF cookies, or whether Google is providing them to the agency.
From The Washington Post
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