March 16, 2016

Another good reason for using ad-blocking

It's not just that the ads often slow down site loading and performance intolerably, it's that the ads can be positively harmful in themselves.

The latest example of malicious ads distributing malware happened last weekend. Someone managed to compromise a big league ad server used by the NYT and the BBC, among other high profile sites. One of the things it was distributing was the "TeslaCrypt" ransomware.

I never saw a thing.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 05:16 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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1 I don't have a problem with ads that consist of loading an image or an image and a link, unless they present a loading problem that interferes with my use of the site.

But too many ads these days don't just want to load an image, they want to run code, and "hey, trust me to run code on your computer" is something I'm a lot more leery about; "trust these other guys who are paying me some money to run code on your computer" is even worse. Nobody's willing to accept the responsibility for damage done through that attack vector, so why should I incur the risk?

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at March 16, 2016 07:21 PM (/lg1c)

2 Back before the web, when internet connections were typically three orders of magnitude slower than they are today, there was a programming language called TeleScript.

The idea of TeleScript was that you could write a program, set it running on your computer, and the program would transmit itself to the remote server where the data lived, run itself there to collect the information it needed, and then send itself back down the wire to your computer, where it could print out the whatever you'd requested.

We were young once, and in retrospect, too clever for our own good.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at March 16, 2016 10:30 PM (PiXy!)

3 Not long ago, I decided to turn off adblock for a day to see what it was like.  I can't imagine how people who don't block ads tolerate it.  Even sites that should know better are not just serving ads, but enormous numbers of them.  Wired for example, the "please turn off your adblock" banner shows up on page as many as ten times.  That's ridiculous.  And of course, the risk, as mentioned, is getting intolerable.  I wonder if you went to a site that had one of the new "turn off adblock to see this content" barriers, and then you got an infection, if you could sue?

Posted by: David at March 16, 2016 11:34 PM (+TPAa)

4 You can, but at the end of the day, what's the actual cost of having to format your computer and reinstall stuff? Less than the filing fee, to be sure. And a class action wouldn't be likely to work either - how would you be able to demonstrate that you got the virus or whatever from that site and not some other site? And precisely what's their legal responsibility in the first place? They're only obliged to take "reasonable caution", and nobody's defined what that is, when it comes to computer security...

I use NoScript - which could care less if you serve up a picture ad, but is great for preventing cross-site scripting, which is the real issue here. Nobody's serving up infected ads from their own servers, after all. (At least nowhere I'm browsing...)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at March 17, 2016 01:43 AM (v29Tn)

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