Ultrasound Tracking Could Be Used to Deanonymize Tor Users

Ultrasound Tracking Could Be Used to Deanonymize Tor Users

Published By: Bleeping Computer, 1/3/2017

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Cybersecurity researchers recently discovered that ultrasound cross-device tracking (uXDT), in which a web page plays an ultrasound signal that prompts nearby devices to identify themselves via ultrasound, could be effective even when users are using the anonymization proxy Tor. This provides an example of the continual arms race between privacy-enhancing technologies and privacy-invading technologies.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of Article: 15.8

Content Advisory

The article mentions the possible use of ultrasound tracking to catch viewers of child pornography.

Extended Discussion Questions

  • Did learning about uXDT surprise you? Did it change your expectations of how private you can make your online communications? Why or why not?
  • The article suggests that catching viewers of child pornography might be a potential beneficial use of uXDT. Can you think of other beneficial uses?
  • This article focuses on advertisers, the main users of uXDT, but mentions that the data they collect could be exploited. Who else might want that data, and what could they do with it?
  • What does this story demonstrate about the strengths and weaknesses of privacy-enhancing technologies?

Relating This Story to the CSP Curriculum Framework

Global Impact Learning Objectives:

  • LO 7.3.1 Analyze the beneficial and harmful effects of computing.

Global Impact Essential Knowledge:

  • EK 7.3.1G Privacy and security concerns arise in the development and use of computational systems and artifacts.
  • EK 7.3.1J Technology enables the collection, use, and exploitation of information about, by, and for individuals, groups, and institutions.
  • EK 7.3.1K People can have instant access to vast amounts of information online; accessing this information can enable the collection of both individual and aggregate data that can be used and collected.
  • EK 7.3.1M Targeted advertising is used to help individuals, but it can be misused at both individual and aggregate levels.

Other CSP Big Ideas:

  • Idea 6 The Internet

Banner Image: “Network Visualization – Violet – Offset Crop”, derivative work by ICSI. New license: CC BY-SA 4.0. Based on “Social Network Analysis Visualization” by Martin Grandjean. Original license: CC BY-SA 3.0

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