Hieu Le (University of California, Irvine), Athina Markopoulou (University of California, Irvine), Zubair Shafiq (University of California, Davis)

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-INSPECTOR 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.

View More Papers

Zoom on the Keystrokes: Exploiting Video Calls for Keystroke...

Mohd Sabra (University of Texas at San Antonio), Anindya Maiti (University of Oklahoma), Murtuza Jadliwala (University of Texas at San Antonio)

Read More

Panel – Experiment Artifact Sharing: Challenges and Solutions

Moderator: Laura Tinnel (SRI International) Panelists: Clémentine Maurice (CNRS, IRIS); Martin Rosso (Eindhoven University of Technology); Eric Eide (U. Utah)

Read More

Screen Gleaning: Receiving and Interpreting Pixels by Eavesdropping on...

Zhuoran Liu, Léo Weissbart, Dirk Lauret (Radboud University)

Read More

Securing CAN Traffic on J1939 Networks

Jeremy Daily, David Nnaji, and Ben Ettlinger (Colorado State University)

Read More