Our paper titled “Block Me If You Can: A Large-Scale Study of Tracker-Blocking Tools” has been accepted for publication at IEEE EuroS&P 2017.
The paper is a joint work of SBA Research (G. Merzdovnik, D. Buhov, S. Neuner, M. Schmiedecker, and E. Weippl), FH St. Pölten (M. Huber), and Stony Brook University (N. Nikiforakis).
In total, 38 out of 194 submissions were accepted (acceptance rate: 19.6%). The 2nd IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy will be held on April 26-28, 2017 in Paris, France.
Abstract of the paper:
Online third-party tracking has become a widespread practice on the Internet, with serious implications for the privacy of users. While users are often unaware that their online behaviour is being monitored by omnipresent third-party trackers, trackers continuously expand their coverage and the methods by which they ensure the longevity of their tracking identifiers.
In this paper, we quantify the effectiveness of third-party tracker blockers on a large scale. First, we analyze the architecture of various, state-of-the-art blocking solutions and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each method. Second, we perform a two-part measurement study on the effectiveness of popular tracker-blocking tools. Our analysis quantifies the protection offered against trackers present on more than 100,000 popular websites and 10,000 popular Android applications. We provide novel insights into the ongoing arms race between trackers and developers of blocking tools, and which tools, under what circumstances, achieve the best results. Among others, we discover that rule-based browser extensions outperform learning-based ones, trackers with smaller footprints are more successful at avoiding being blocked, and CDNs pose a major threat towards the future of tracker-blocking tools.