Spying on Android Users Through Targeted Ads

Eeva Terkki, Ashwin Rao, Sasu Tarkoma

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Targeted ads are a vital source of revenue for ad
networks, and ad networks compile detailed profiles of users
for targeting purposes. This wealth of private information can
motivate an attacker to spy on a victim by sampling the victim’s
information available at the ad networks. In this paper, we
explore the possibility to spy on an Android user by requesting
ads targeted at that user. During our controlled experiments, an
attacker was able to remotely request and receive mobile ads
using a leaked identifier belonging to their victim. The lack of
targeted ads from some of the studied ad networks, which we
believe to be partly caused by our geographical location, restricts
us from drawing strong conclusions on the success of such an
attack. However, we believe that our methodology can be used
to perform similar experiments to explore the success in spying
on Android users through targeted ads.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2017 9th International Conference on Communication Systems and Networks (COMSNETS) : COMSNETS 2017
Number of pages8
Publication date2017
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5090-4250-0
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
EventInternational Conference on Communication Systems and Networks - Bangalore, India
Duration: 4 Jan 20178 Jan 2017
Conference number: 9 (COMSNETS 2017)

Fields of Science

  • 113 Computer and information sciences

Cite this