Secret service loves adblocking while Google tries to kill it: AdGuard news digest

Hello, it’s me again, your weekly digest on blocking ads and other means of making your web surfing secure and comfortable.

1. Secret agents use ad blockers too

These people might know a thing or two about security, and they say ad blockers are mandatory.

Cybersecurity experts in the U.S. Intelligence Community had developed their own ad blocking software, and a congressman wrote a letter insisting that government agencies and federal networks must use ad blockers and keep their privacy protection at the highest level. He reminded them that personal data gets stolen and sold, ad networks are used to deliver malware and track people - well, all that stuff we already know only too well.

The U.S. Intelligence Community includes NSA, CIA, some subdivisions of the FBI, DEA, DHS, all that seedbeds of American jamesbonds. It’s worth following their advice about security.

2. Not everyone agrees that ad blocking is essential

While NSA and CIA people talk about the importance of ad blocking, Google is getting ready to eliminate it from the Chrome browser — at least, as we know it today.

And of course all Chromium-based browsers like Opera will follow. We published a detailed explanation of what the forthcoming Manifest V3 is, how it threatens ad blocking browser extensions (and all other extensions too), and what we can do about it.

Shortly: Manifest V3 is the name for the new upcoming browser extension API. It intends to make extensions more secure by stripping extensions of access rights to web requests and, therefore, of many useful capabilities. So AdGuard’s Chrome extension might lose the ability to block ads as effectively as it does today. This will happen only in 2023, but we are already working on solving the possible problems.

3. A teenage ticktocker accidentally foils a scientific study

In one of the clips, the girl acquainted her audience with a website for paid polls as a quick way to make some buck, what could possibly go wrong? The polls there are used for social studies by researchers: like, how many cats and dogs an average teacher from Massachusetts possesses (our week supply of the letter “s” just dissolved in this sentence). The resource promises to "Recruit niche or representative samples on-demand”. But now they complain that the girl attracted hundreds of thousands of other teenage girls, and they spoiled all the gathered data by conducting polls.

We are a little confused here. A company that literarily sells data is unable to separate girls from boys? “Prolific, a tool for scientists conducting behavioral research, had no screening tools in place to make sure that it delivered representative population samples to each study”, The Verge notes. So probably that’s the case: Prolific took money for what it couldn’t provide - and now everybody is writing about how silly the girls are and how they blocked the scientific progress.  
4. Data breaches... Data breaches never change

We’re just going to leave this here: “A user on a popular hacker forum is selling a database that purportedly contains 3.8 billion user records.

The database was allegedly compiled by combining 3.8 billion phone numbers from a previously scraped Clubhouse ‘secret database’ with users’ Facebook profiles”. A nice way to remind us of Clubhouse.

3.8 billion of phone numbers are probably not as impressive as 3.2 billion email and password pairs stolen this February or 10.88 billion stolen records from CAM4.

But breaches’ victims hardly ever feel pride for scoring high in such dubious contest anyway. Being part of a huge leaked dataset is just as sad and disappointing as being part of a smaller one.

5. VPNs are having hard times

LiquidVPN shut down, the website is currently unavailable after several movie companies sued the VPN company over user piracy.

Torrentfreak underlined the fact that copyright holders employed a new strategy: they started suing third-party intermediaries that are somehow used for getting access to movies that had been stolen by some other parties. There was a similar case with Quad9 DNS resolver recently.

We wonder when they get to browsers, gadget manufacturers, and nuclear power plants, all these things help people pirate movies. It would have been easier to forbid people straightaway without all that micromanagement.

Well, they have already made claims towards the hosting company whose servers LiquidVPN used (not pirates, but the VPN provider).

And a few days before Edward Snowden personally recommended not to use ExpressVPN. Their chief Information officer ​​Daniel Gericke previously worked for the UAE government and helped to hack American politicians and activists.

The company already claimed that they saw Gericke’s background as a valuable benefit and proof that he is a high-class professional (what else could they say). Anyway, if you need a new VPN, try ours, but please use it for legally sound activities.  

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