Security News This Week: Even the CIA and NSA Use Ad Blockers to Stay Safe Online


Everything old was new again this week as ransomware came roaring back into the headlines, hitting a crucial Iowa grain cooperative, among other targets. And WIRED sat down with DeSnake, the former number two of the dark web marketplace AlphaBay, to hear about his reemergence and relaunch of AlphaBay four years after its takedown by law enforcement. “AlphaBay name was put in bad light after the raids. I am here to make amends to that,” DeSnake said.

The Groundhog Day vibes continued with the annual release of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 15. The new OS comes with a slew of privacy features, including more granular details about what your apps are up to, a mechanism to block email trackers, and a sort of VPN-Tor Frankenstein monster called iCloud Private Relay that protects your browsing activity. Use WIRED’s handy guide to get up to speed and start changing some settings.

And if you want a DIY project that isn’t tied to a tech company’s walled garden, we’ve got tips on how to set up your own network attached storage (NAS) that plugs straight into your router and gives you a place to share files between your devices or easily store backups.

And there’s more! Each week we round up all the security news WIRED didn’t cover in depth. Click on the headlines to read the full stories, and stay safe out there.

A letter to Congress shared with Motherboard shows that the US National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and other members of the Intelligence Community use ad blockers on their networks as a security protection. “The IC has implemented network-based ad-blocking technologies and uses information from several layers, including Domain Name System information, to block unwanted and malicious advertising content,” the IC chief information officer wrote in the letter.

You may use an ad blocker to make your browsing experience more pleasant, but the tools also have potential defense benefits. Attackers who try to run malicious ads on unscrupulous ad networks or taint legitimate-looking ads can steal data or sneak malware onto your device if you click, or sometimes by exploiting web vulnerabilities. The fact that the IC views ads as an unnecessary risk and…

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