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For $1,000, Anyone Can Purchase Online Ads to Track Your Location and App ­se

By ­W News

October 20, 2017

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Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) suggest it could cost only about $1,000 for someone to buy and target online ads in order to monitor the location of others as well as their application use.

The team found individual ad purchasers can, under certain conditions, observe when a person visits a predetermined sensitive location within 10 minutes of their arrival, as well as tracking a person's movements across a city by serving location-based ads to the target's phone.

By establishing a grid of location-based ads, adversaries can keep tabs on targets' movements if they have opened an app and stay in a location long enough for the ad to be served.

"This is an issue that the online advertising industry needs to be thinking about," says UW professor Franzi Roesner.

The UW team will present their findings on Oct. 30 at the ACM Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society (WPES 2017) in Dallas, TX.

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