Verizon, Turn, and the Zombie Cookie

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Friday, 16 January 2015

Verizon, Turn, and the Zombie Cookie



It may only be January, but its never too early for a good horror story.

Back in November of 2014, EVDOinfo posted an article about how Verizon is tracking user data across all of their mobile devices. A "Unique Identifier Header" is being attached to all traffic that passes through the Verizon network. What at first appears as harmless, just a random string of text and numbers, is really a way that Verizon can track users and their usage habits, and in turn use and sell that data to advertising companies for better marketing profiles and targeted advertisements.

Today, Pro Publica is reporting a new "Zombie Cookie" which can not be deleted, and is there for the sole purpose of tracking users and their habits on smart phones and tablets. An online advertising company named Turn, which is a major player in this space hired by Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and more, have figured out a way to use this Verizon tracking data for their own purposes to track users.

Turn has devised a way to use this Unique Identifier Header, aka Zombie Cookie, to then re-spawn tracking cookies that end users have deleted. That is right! If you have picked up a cookie from a Turn advertisement, even if you delete that tracking cookie, it can be brought back by means of this Verizon tracking cookie.

Verizon has said to Turn that it is looking into its use of these cookies, but its not ready to pass judgement on their methods at this point. For the full release from Pro Publica, click here . AT&T previously used a similar system, but they announced they would stop using this method as of late November last year.

Last Updated ( Friday, 16 January 2015 )
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