ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby ryguy » Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:18 pm

You guys are doing some fantastic work here. Just remember to be wary of the "seven degrees of separation" effect. If you try hard enough, you can connect two entities together if you connect them through various other entities. Using the same approach, you could probably draw a connection between any one of us, up to our phone or cable companies, up to the communications companies that supports them, and eventually (and maybe not even in 7 "jumps") make a connection with the CIA or some other government entity.

Just something to be careful of. I love the work you guys are doing though - and I do believe that tax records are very accessible for non-profits. They have to make their funding publicly available. Unfortunately with a privately owned for-profit company, it's a heck of a lot more difficult. As far as I understand there are certain finances they need to report for tax reasons, and I believe that information is publicly available (although it may cost some money to obtain).

Anyway - wish I had more time to support you guys with research, but I'm juggling about seven things right now, and I've only got two hands! Keep up the fantastic work though, We're following along closely!

-Ry
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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby mojo » Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:48 pm

ryguy wrote: Just remember to be wary of the "seven degrees of separation" effect. If you try hard enough, you can connect two entities together if you connect them through various other entities.


Agreed, to begin with i figured i might catch ATS out using 3rd party cookies and showing the shallowness of TRUSTe's punishment towards non-compliance.
The tangent this has taken really is surprising, but to be honest not all that difficult a stretch to imagine why though.
Every agency that they tried to get through congress that had the ability to datamine got chopped through intense lobbying and media coverage by privacy and civil rights advocates.
What better way for the CIA to dodge those roadblocks than start up a not for profit VC arm that can buy into the technology that is being developed in the private sector anyway, and in most cases better than a government agency could do.
All of the connections so far are easily verifiable through the companies themselves, whilst i do agree that coincidental connections in some cases are more than likely, does it not seem strange that 3 of the gentlemen i have mentioned are all former chairmen of the NVCA and through their respective companies are also involved in In-Q-Tel.
Either way, it is enough to convince me so far that having TRUSTe bought by Accel Partners does not make me feel any safer surfing ATS than i did before TRUSTe certified them, if anything it has made me even more wary. :)


ryguy wrote:
I love the work you guys are doing though - and I do believe that tax records are very accessible for non-profits. They have to make their funding publicly available. Unfortunately with a privately owned for-profit company, it's a heck of a lot more difficult. As far as I understand there are certain finances they need to report for tax reasons, and I believe that information is publicly available (although it may cost some money to obtain).


Thanks, i'll see if i can dredge anything interesting up.

ryguy wrote:
Anyway - wish I had more time to support you guys with research, but I'm juggling about seven things right now, and I've only got two hands! Keep up the fantastic work though, We're following along closely!

-Ry


cheers, at the end of the day, as you suggested this may all be just coincidence and wishful thinking, lol, but it is an interesting exercise nonetheless.
And i do love a challenge.

:D

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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby Access Denied » Thu Sep 25, 2008 5:15 am

Nice chart Mojo… oh what tangled webs we weave eh?

Nice find Moomin… looks like Bill found the perfect crowd to exploit eh?

Speaking of, this appears to be another thinly veiled attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the unwashed masses on ATS…

Advertisers Following Members To ATS?
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thr ... pid5017147

Springer wrote:There really is no way for them to associate the cookie they loaded on your browser to your account or any personal info you gave them when you made your order. The info you gave them when you bought the item resides on a secure financial transaction server and the cookie was in your browser cache on your computer.

[snip]

Again, there's no way for that cookie to identify you or have any of your private info on it.

Oh really? Educate thyself…

Cookie hijacking
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_cooki ... _hijacking

During normal operation cookies are sent back and forth between a server (or a group of servers in the same domain) and the computer of the browsing user. Since cookies may contain sensitive information (user name, a token used for authentication, etc.) [or what’s in your shopping cart –AD], their values should not be accessible to other computers. Cookie theft is the act of intercepting cookies by an unauthorized party.

[snip first exploit method]

A different way to steal cookies is cross-site scripting and making the browser itself send cookies to servers that should not receive them. Modern browsers allow execution of pieces of code retrieved from the server. If cookies are accessible during execution, their value may be communicated in some form to servers that should not access them.

Again, malicious code doesn’t have to come from [for example] ATS directly. Anything you do on ATS is available (exposed) to ATS ad partners through the IFRAME tags ATS uses to deliver the ads and allows code from third party servers to run in your ATS browser “session”.

[see XSS and Web bugs FMI]

After Bill posts a “technical” description that’s probably more confusing than anything to some [hmm…] of how cookies can be used to “target” ads to what should be anonymous users in a perfect world, Mark continues in his next post by invoking a conspiracy by security software vendors to “demonize” these harmless little cookies…

Springer wrote:It's never been proven, to my knowledge, that any of these companies actually do this but they are very misleading in their sales pitches about the simple "cookie".

Oh really? If cookies are so “simple” then what’s up with this?

Privacy and third-party cookies
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_cooki ... ty_cookies

Image
In this fictional example, an advertising company has placed banners in two Web sites. Hosting the banner images on its servers and using third-party cookies, the advertising company is able to track the browsing of users across these two sites.

[nice example eh? lol]

Cookies have some important implications on the privacy and anonymity of Web users. While cookies are only sent to the server setting them or one in the same Internet domain, a Web page may contain images or other components stored on servers in other domains. Cookies that are set during retrieval of these components are called third-party cookies.

Advertising companies use third-party cookies to track a user across multiple sites. In particular, an advertising company can track a user across all pages where it has placed advertising images or web bugs. Knowledge of the pages visited by a user allows the advertisement company to target advertisement to the user's presumed preferences.

The possibility of building a profile of users has been considered by some a potential privacy threat, even when the tracking is done on a single domain but especially when tracking is done across multiple domains using third-party cookies. For this reason, some countries have legislation about cookies.

Harmless? I guess it depends on who you trust more… ATS and their ads partners or the US government who’s restricted in their use of cookies on their own servers in order to maintain the public trust?

Wiki continues…

The United States government has set strict rules on setting cookies in 2000 after it was disclosed that the White House drug policy office used cookies to track computer users viewing its online anti-drug advertising. In 2002, privacy activist Daniel Brandt found that the CIA had been leaving persistent cookies on computers for ten years. When notified it was violating policy, CIA stated that these cookies were not intentionally set and stopped setting them. On December 25, 2005, Brandt discovered that the National Security Agency had been leaving two persistent cookies on visitors' computers due to a software upgrade. After being informed, the National Security Agency immediately disabled the cookies.

Mark continues…

They tend to call them "Tracking Cookies" which is pure bunk and true all at once. True, in as much as it "tracks" and thereby limits how many times you'll see the same ad on any site and or network.

Bunk in the way they make it sound like it's stalking you and has a clue who you actually are when it simply doesn't.

It's good for their business to keep everyone scared and clueless.

That’s funny because seems to me it’s good for Mark’s business to keep everyone NOT scared and clueless and not give them advice to help protect their privacy such as this…

[link from wiki page]

How to Block Tracking Cookies
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 00111.html

Q: How do I stop these tracking cookies that my anti-spyware software keeps bugging me about?

A: The exact procedure isn't always obvious, but it requires at most seven -- and sometimes zero -- taps of the mouse button in your Web browser.

In Internet Explorer 6 (the version available since summer 2001), go to the Tools menu, select Internet Options and click the Privacy tab. Then click the "Advanced . . ." button; in the smaller window that pops up, check the box next to "Override automatic cookie handling" and choose "Block" under the "Third-party Cookies" heading. Click the OK button to confirm that setting.

In Mozilla Firefox, go to the Tools menu, select Options and click the Privacy icon. Click the Cookies heading to display the cookie-acceptance policy, then check the box next to "for the originating Web site only." Click the OK button.

In Safari, you don't have to do anything -- its default setting is to accept cookies "only from sites you navigate to," excluding those from third-party sources.

[snip]

Tracking or third-party cookies come from outside the site you're visiting -- usually, from advertising agencies that place ads at many sites. These companies can combine data gathered by their cookies to see what you read at different sites, but they can learn your identity only if you (or the sites that buy their services) provide that to them.

Which is exactly what the OP did… and anybody else who’s ever bought anything online from [or otherwise supplied personally identifiable information to] a site that runs ads that are also run other sites they’ve visited! Note that ATS runs ads from a LOT of different ad networks [think about it!] and the underlined part is something I mentioned earlier in this thread.

Who’s really looking out for who here?

P.S. Using the above procedure to block third party cookies as opposed to the more “drastic” security measure I use (putting ATS into Internet Explorer’s “Restricted Sites” zone thus blocking all ads and scripts from running) will still allow you to log in to ATS [and other sites] which require you to have cookies enabled… at your own risk.
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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby mojo » Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:08 am

Access Denied wrote:Nice chart Mojo… oh what tangled webs we weave eh?


my thoughts exactly.

Springer wrote:It's never been proven, to my knowledge, that any of these companies actually do this but they are very misleading in their sales pitches about the simple "cookie".


hahahahahahaah....if i dont clear my cookies after visiting ATS, the next time i return to ATS i receive ads specific to someone who lives in Australia.
How do your advertisers know that i live in australia Mark, hmmm....
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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby moomin » Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:34 pm

Now doesn't DIGG's new business model sound a little familiar?

http://socializingdigg.wordpress.com/20 ... -hit-300m/
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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby moomin » Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:50 pm

mojo wrote:hahahahahahaah....if i dont clear my cookies after visiting ATS, the next time i return to ATS i receive ads specific to someone who lives in Australia.
How do your advertisers know that i live in australia Mark, hmmm....


I have never had this problem. It's probably because I never get ANY ads from ats at all and this is how I do it...

1. get firefox
2. get the addons adblock plus & adblock filterset G, and popupmaster. right click over any of those annoying ads on ats and block them or the frame.
3. go to c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc and look for the file called 'hosts'. open the file in notepad and paste this into the bottom of the file and then save it...

127.0.0.1 www.google-analytics.com
127.0.0.1 adwords.google.com
127.0.0.1 pagead.googlesyndication.com
127.0.0.1 pagead2.googlesyndication.com
127.0.0.1 adservices.google.com
127.0.0.1 imageads.googleadservices.com
127.0.0.1 imageads1.googleadservices.com
127.0.0.1 www.googleadservices.com
127.0.0.1 apps5.oingo.com

127.0.0.1 localhost
127.0.0.1 view.atdmt.com
127.0.0.1 a.as-us.falkag.net
127.0.0.1 ads.tribalfusion.com
127.0.0.1 red.as-us.falkag.net
127.0.0.1 3.adbrite.com
127.0.0.1 media.fastclick.net
127.0.0.1 pmedia2.fastclick.net
127.0.0.1 1118.ign.com
127.0.0.1 ad.uk.doubleclick.net
127.0.0.1 ar.atwola.com
127.0.0.1 c5.zedo.com
127.0.0.1 l5.zedo.com
127.0.0.1 ads.vmp.com
127.0.0.1 adfarm.mserve.com
127.0.0.1 sideshow.directtrack.com
127.0.0.1 addserver.fluent.ltd.uk
127.0.0.1 altfarm.mediaplex.com
127.0.0.1 ads.firstadsolution.com
127.0.0.1 global.msads.net
127.0.0.1 ads.vmp.com
127.0.0.1 rad.msn.com
127.0.0.1 view.atdmt.com
127.0.0.1 adfarm.mediaplex.com
127.0.0.1 img.mediaplex.com
127.0.0.1 cdn5.tribalfusion.com
127.0.0.1 ar.atwola.com
127.0.0.1 http://adserver.abovetopsecret.com
127.0.0.1 vip1.cdn.cachefly.net
127.0.0.1 75.126.76.151-static.reverse.softlayer.com
127.0.0.1 static.reverse.softlayer.com



You can add any site here that you don't want to receive crappy ads from. I'm sure they have a larger list of advertisers or people tracking your movements than what I have pasted here but the full blocking list I have is huge and this list will take care of most of the ads if not all of them.

Happy surfing!
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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby mojo » Mon Sep 29, 2008 2:07 pm

Two partners of Accel Partners are now on the board at TRUSTE.

http://www.truste.org/about/management.php

Andrew Braccia and Theresia Gouw Ranzetta of Accel Partners.

It's obviously not illegal but isn't it some sort of conflict of interest for a privacy watchdog to be owned by a company that owns many other companies certified by the watchdog. :?

How could anybody take them seriously now?
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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby moomin » Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:31 pm

I wonder how long this thread will remain up or what the replies will be?

Think someone must have been inspired by this thread to delve deeper.

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thr ... git=407797
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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby mojo » Mon Nov 03, 2008 6:18 pm

moomin wrote:I wonder how long this thread will remain up or what the replies will be?

Think someone must have been inspired by this thread to delve deeper.

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thr ... git=407797


LOL.

Ssshhhhh...man.

Hahahahahahaha
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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby GigaShadow » Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:53 pm

I would be elated to view the ATS .htaccess file. Thats where alot of the riga-ma-row goes down. beside server aliasing in the linux server ini file. If you are quick enough, you can see the url strings down in the lower left of the IE browser. You will see url forwarding going on. Those cookies are real boogers on your pc. ATS has servers drooling all over your computer when on there network.

That link to web bug & cookies on wiki can be an eye popper to some and nothing to others. Ryguy wants me to spell it out, but why should I when looking for it gets you the same result with better results than from me. There are secrets that are protected tooth and nail.

Heres something, after I wrote of what I observed on ATS from viewing there source code, septic overload immediately scripted a no right click into the page view of ATS. So, one could not right click on the ATS pages for a view source of the code under the hood. Why would he do that, OK, I'll tell ya. Theres code rendered from other scripts on servers that do hidden things without your knowledge. To know what they are capable of, you have to be a friend to a linux guru. you will be amazed as to what can be done on a linux server.
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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby ryguy » Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:25 pm

GigaShadow wrote:Heres something, after I wrote of what I observed on ATS from viewing there source code, septic overload immediately scripted a no right click into the page view of ATS. So, one could not right click on the ATS pages for a view source of the code under the hood.


But you don't need to right-click to view source code - in IE you just click the "View" menu option and select "Source" from the menu...? I believe you can do the same thing within the menu system for Netscape and Firefox.

Usually websites disable right-click to prevent people from stealing images and copy/pasting text.

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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby GigaShadow » Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:24 am

To gain my source code for the web bug thread I had started on ATS, i right clicked to see the code, and cut/paste the snippet. After septic overload read my post and responded, the right click function was disabled with a no-right click script. Yes, you can still use the view source menu option, but the fact the right click option was removed shows some one was a little disturbed about that being allowed out into th ATS community.

I know a script that will disable the view source option as well. Than the viewer will not see or be able to use cut/paste. BUT!, the viewer can still go to a website, type in or paste a url, and see the source view option. I have scripts that will alert an admin when some one enters a network. Some use cookies, some use the web bug, beacon, o.gif like ATS. The o.gif is the ATS web bug cgi beacon that alerts an admin to an IP or logged in user to now being on the ATS network. With scripting, that alert can be an email alert, a webpage showing active login and IP, and make a sound when a tracked user comes on the network.

This is not for ad tracking, but for select users to be tracked. The ads have there way of performing view tracking. Than they watch the post thread reply text box for real time typed text. And send keys to screw with the users pc when they see something they don't like. I suspect that post reply window is an asp window server portal or java servlet. Servlets are running and servlets are serving the client machine code. You know what a chat window is, that is what I beleive they use when a login client types in text for post replies, and this maybe implemented on tracked members.
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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby Access Denied » Sun Nov 09, 2008 12:05 am

GigaShadow wrote:ATS has servers drooling all over your computer when on there network.

True, and again, what people need to be aware of is the owners of those servers (e.g. advertisers) pay ATS for the ability to do that… a potential conflict of interest if there ever was one.

Things would be a lot different, and ATS could more easily be held accountable for anything malicious, if the site wasn’t free… in other words, you get what you pay for.

Caveat Emptor

GigaShadow wrote:That link to web bug & cookies on wiki can be an eye popper to some and nothing to others.

Good to know somebody took some time to look into that.

GigaShadow wrote:To know what they are capable of, you have to be a friend to a linux guru.

More important then knowing what’s possible is knowing what’s actually going on. Wireshark (fka Ethereal) rocks… and it runs on Windows, but it’s definitely not for everyone. Fortunately, there are other more accessible tools… but they trend to be held as closely guarded trade secrets by IT professionals. ;)

Perhaps I’ll put together a tutorial for one of the less complicated (but still extremely powerful) tools I use and post it here. It would be nice to have a few more detectives on the case to compare notes with… 8)

GigaShadow wrote:Yes, you can still use the view source menu option, but the fact the right click option was removed shows some one was a little disturbed about that being allowed out into th ATS community.

That’s like putting up a sign don’t walk on the grass. :roll:

It should be noted that the view source option doesn’t give you the complete picture anyway… among other potential forms of obfuscation there’s Flash and ActiveX controls to consider.

For example, right click on the following link and choose “Save Target As…” and open the file in a text editor to see some of the JavaScript code that’s included with a script tag that you won’t see with the view source option…

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/ats-scripts.js

And here’s some (live) session captures of some dynamically generated code…

http://adserver.abovetopsecret.com/728_mm.php [initial forum banner ad]

Code: Select all
<html><head><title>The Above Network, LLC Ad Server: 728x90</title>
<script type="text/javascript">
  var timer = setInterval("autoRefresh()", 64983);
  var targetURL="http://adserver.abovetopsecret.com/728_mm.php?t=r"
  function autoRefresh(){window.location=targetURL;}
</script>
</head><body leftmargin="0" topmargin="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" bgcolor="#2f2d2b">
<script type="text/javascript" language="JavaScript">
 
// Cache-busting and pageid values
var random = Math.round(Math.random() * 100000000);
if (!pageNum) var pageNum = Math.round(Math.random() * 100000000);
 
document.write('<scr');
document.write('ipt type="text/javascript" language ="JavaScript" SRC="http://ads.mediamayhemcorp.com/jserver/acc_random=' + random + '/SITE=ABOVETOPSECRET.COM/AREA=FORUM/AAMSZ=EXPBANNER/pageid=' + pageNum + '">');
document.write('</scr');
document.write('ipt>');
</script>
</body></html>

http://adserver.abovetopsecret.com/728_mm.php?t=r [autorefreshed ad]

Code: Select all
<html><head><title>The Above Network, LLC Ad Server: 728x90</title>
<script type="text/javascript">
  var timer = setInterval("autoRefresh()", 59420);
  var targetURL="http://adserver.abovetopsecret.com/728_mm.php?t=r"
  function autoRefresh(){window.location=targetURL;}
</script>
</head><body leftmargin="0" topmargin="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" bgcolor="#2f2d2b">
<!--- start of abovetopsecret2_ros_(728x90)_247RealMediaAdTag --->
<script LANGUAGE="JavaScript1.1">
OAS_rn = new String (Math.random());
OAS_rns = OAS_rn.substring (2, 11);
document.write('<scr'+'ipt LANGUAGE="JavaScript1.1" SRC="http://network.realmedia.com/RealMedia/ads/adstream_jx.ads/abovetopsecret2/ros/728x90/nws/ss/a/1'+OAS_rns+'@Top1"></scr'+'ipt>');
</script>
<!--- end of abovetopsecret2_ros_(728x90)_247RealMediaAdTag ---><div id="beacon_4" style="position: absolute; left: 0px; top: 0px; visibility: hidden;"><img src='http://adserver.abovetopsecret.com/adlog.php?bannerid=4&amp;clientid=8&amp;zoneid=38&amp;source=&amp;block=0&amp;capping=12&amp;cb=74385017b34a85e9cdd79eb75a65a08e' width='0' height='0' alt='' style='width: 0px; height: 0px;'></div></body></html>

Compare this code with the code you see by using the view option after clicking on each of the above links directly… notice anything different?

Poking around ATS results in a LOT of third party code running on your machine… no wonder so many people have intermittent problems.

GigaShadow wrote:This is not for ad tracking, but for select users to be tracked.

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/0.gif [10 x 10 pixel transparent GIF]
http://atsmedia.cachefly.net/images/0.gif [cached copy]

Interesting theory… although one would wonder why something like that would be necessary given that once you’re logged in, anything you do can be tracked with code. The reason I say that is 0.gif gets served up even if you’re not logged in and looking at the code, it appears it’s being used to control formatting.

That said, one potential use I could see for a web bug is to give ATS the ability to “resell” or “outsource” the tracking of select users to an undisclosed third party while maintaining a “hands off” TrustE “certified” outward appearance.

Obviously one would need to be logged in to capture that kind of data… any volunteers? :D

GigaShadow wrote:Than they watch the post thread reply text box for real time typed text.

Plausible… in which case is it any wonder why ATS can’t handle the load that any number of more popular boards can handle with ease using off the shelf software?

[without having to remove any features that make navigating through all the crap there easier]

:lmao:
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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby GigaShadow » Sun Nov 09, 2008 6:48 pm

There's a bug.cgi gif down below next to the paypal donate image of this page. Right there, just immeditely right of the paypal image. Now this image is for ad tracking, that is obvious. If it were attached in any user profile, that would be a tracking bug to keep tabs on a logged in user.

The bug tracker on ATS is cgi code one will not see from source view. The viewer will not see the php code on any pages as well.

When I was examining the bug tracker on ATS, I noticed the bg colors in the little stat points bar were different for certain people. Now why would that be.

Image

Compared to this logged in user bg colors.

Image

Just a reminder how they monitor your posting in real time. that window you type into, maybe a chat window whereby they can see what you type. Including mistakes you back out of and retype. They see it just like you would when live chatting. Only they don't respond, they watch.
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Re: ATS and their TRUSTe certification.

Postby Access Denied » Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:28 pm

Umm… 127.0.0.1 (aka hostname localhost) is a loopback IP address to your computer and Port 1025 is a frequent target for exploits so it looks like maybe you’ve been pwned…

Might want to check your hosts file and run something like Spybot if it’s not something you or a program you’re using did intentionally.

If all that is over your head I suggest you buy a Mac like Septic Overlord uses. :)
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