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  1. This paper proposes FingerprinTV, a fully automated methodology for extracting fingerprints from the network traffic of smart TV apps and assessing their performance. FingerprinTV (1) installs, repeatedly launches, and collects network traffic from smart TV apps; (2) extracts three different types of network fingerprints for each app, i.e., domain-based fingerprints (DBF), packet-pair-based fingerprints (PBF), and TLS-based fingerprints (TBF); and (3) analyzes the extracted fingerprints in terms of their prevalence, distinctiveness, and sizes. From applying FingerprinTV to the top-1000 apps of the three most popular smart TV platforms, we find that smart TV app network fingerprinting is feasible and effective: even the least prevalent type of fingerprint manifests itself in at least 68% of apps of each platform, and up to 89% of fingerprints uniquely identify a specific app when two fingerprinting techniques are used together. By analyzing apps that exhibit identical fingerprints, we find that these apps often stem from the same developer or “no code” app generation toolkit. Furthermore, we show that many apps that are present on all three platforms exhibit platform-specific fingerprints.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  2. The adblocking arms race has escalated over the last few years. An entire new ecosystem of circumvention (CV) services has recently emerged that aims to bypass adblockers by obfuscating site content, making it difficult for adblocking filter lists to distinguish between ads and functional content. In this paper, we investigate recent anti-circumvention efforts by the adblocking community that leverage custom filter lists. In particular, we analyze the anti-circumvention filter list (ACVL), which supports advanced filter rules with enriched syntax and capabilities designed specifically to counter circumvention. We show that keeping ACVL rules up-to-date requires expert list curators to continuously monitor sites known to employ CV services and to discover new such sites in the wild — both tasks require considerable manual effort. To help automate and scale ACVL curation, we develop CV-INSPECTOR, a machine learning approach for automatically detecting adblock circumvention using differential execution analysis. We show that CV-INSPECTOR achieves 93% accuracy in detecting sites that successfully circumvent adblockers. We deploy CV-INSPECTOR on top-20K sites to discover the sites that employ circumvention in the wild.We further apply CV-INSPECTOR to a list of sites that are known to utilize circumvention and are closely monitored by ACVL authors. We demonstrate that CV-INSPECTORmore »reduces the human labeling effort by 98%, which removes a major bottleneck for ACVL authors. Our work is the first large-scale study of the state of the adblock circumvention arms race, and makes an important step towards automating anti-CV efforts.« less
  3. Today’s mobile apps employ third-party advertising and tracking (A&T) libraries, which may pose a threat to privacy. State-of-the-art detects and blocks outgoing A&T HTTP/S requests by using manually curated filter lists (e.g. EasyList), and recently, using machine learning approaches. The major bottleneck of both filter lists and classifiers is that they rely on experts and the community to inspect traffic and manually create filter list rules that can then be used to block traffic or label ground truth datasets. We propose NoMoATS – a system that removes this bottleneck by reducing the daunting task of manually creating filter rules, to the much easier and scalable task of labeling A&T libraries. Our system leverages stack trace analysis to automatically label which network requests are generated by A&T libraries. Using NoMoATS, we collect and label a new mobile traffic dataset. We use this dataset to train decision tree classifiers, which can be applied in real-time on the mobile device and achieve an average F-score of 93%. We show that both our automatic labeling and our classifiers discover thousands of requests destined to hundreds of different hosts, previously undetected by popular filter lists. To the best of our knowledge, our system is themore »first to (1) automatically label which mobile network requests are engaged in A&T, while requiring to only manually label libraries to their purpose and (2) apply on-device machine learning classifiers that operate at the granularity of URLs, can inspect connections across all apps, and detect not only ads, but also tracking.« less
  4. Abstract In this paper, we present a large-scale measurement study of the smart TV advertising and tracking ecosystem. First, we illuminate the network behavior of smart TVs as used in the wild by analyzing network traffic collected from residential gateways. We find that smart TVs connect to well-known and platform-specific advertising and tracking services (ATSes). Second, we design and implement software tools that systematically explore and collect traffic from the top-1000 apps on two popular smart TV platforms, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. We discover that a subset of apps communicate with a large number of ATSes, and that some ATS organizations only appear on certain platforms, showing a possible segmentation of the smart TV ATS ecosystem across platforms. Third, we evaluate the (in)effectiveness of DNS-based blocklists in preventing smart TVs from accessing ATSes. We highlight that even smart TV-specific blocklists suffer from missed ads and incur functionality breakage. Finally, we examine our Roku and Fire TV datasets for exposure of personally identifiable information (PII) and find that hundreds of apps exfiltrate PII to third parties and platform domains. We also find evidence that some apps send the advertising ID alongside static PII values, effectively eliminating the user’s ability tomore »opt out of ad personalization.« less
  5. mart home devices are vulnerable to passive inference attacks based on network traffic, even in the presence of encryption. In this paper, we present PINGPONG, a tool that can automatically extract packet-level signatures for device events (e.g., light bulb turning ON/OFF) from network traffic. We evaluated PINGPONG on popular smart home devices ranging from smart plugs and thermostats to cameras, voice-activated devices, and smart TVs. We were able to: (1) automatically extract previously unknown signatures that consist of simple sequences of packet lengths and directions; (2) use those signatures to detect the devices or specific events with an average recall of more than 97%; (3) show that the signatures are unique among hundreds of millions of packets of real world network traffic; (4) show that our methodology is also applicable to publicly available datasets; and (5) demonstrate its robustness in different settings: events triggered by local and remote smartphones, as well as by home automation systems.