Pharyngula

Spam and malware

Scienceblogs is currently suffering from a rogue ad that hijacks your browser and whisks you off to some wretched commercial site trying to sell you software to prevent your browser from being hijacked. It is evil, stupid, and obnoxious, and please do not purchase the software they are trying to extort from you. The sciencebloggers are all weeping and howling in frustration in our backchannel network, and we’re firing up urgent flares begging our technical people to come purge the vileness…but it’s a weekend, the tech people are all in New York, and unlike those of us living in Morris, Minnesota, they seem to have more exciting things to do than fuss over computers.

Patience. The ad will be destroyed. The advertiser will be turned over to an angry mob of science nerds who have been contemplating interesting punishments all weekend long. Karmic balance will be restored.

Comments

  1. #1 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 28, 2007

    When my son’s pc was still running Windows he snagged a similar malware; the writer disguised it as antivirus software. He had not intended to click it, but he did while trying to close it. I spent the better part of three hours getting rid of it.

    Yep, never click “Cancel” in a window that asks you to install malware. It might be, and apparently is, a lie. Close the window instead — that can’t be faked.

  2. #2 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 28, 2007

    When my son’s pc was still running Windows he snagged a similar malware; the writer disguised it as antivirus software. He had not intended to click it, but he did while trying to close it. I spent the better part of three hours getting rid of it.

    Yep, never click “Cancel” in a window that asks you to install malware. It might be, and apparently is, a lie. Close the window instead — that can’t be faked.

  3. #3 Ichthyic
    October 28, 2007

    I just tried out that ad-blocker plus for Firefox.

    I feel a little bad in that I understand the purpose of ad banner rotations, but still…

    whee!

    btw, I never would have bothered if the company managing the ad rotations for seed had done a better job.

  4. #4 Ichthyic
    October 28, 2007

    The single most effective means of avoiding mischief I have found is to not click on ads, period.

    in this case, it doesn’t work as the ad banners contained a redirect script.

    easy to do, but very naughty, and likely will get that particular ad company tossed from rotation permanently.

    Moreover, the fact that the ad was able to do this, and that the script wasn’t isolated from the header content of the main page, suggests that seed needs to review how it manages its banner rotation.

    hope this issue serves as a small wake-up call.

  5. #5 Ichthyic
    October 28, 2007

    Close the window instead — that can’t be faked.

    no, but the standard close button can be hidden. Sometimes, a fake close button is even added to confuse people further.

    In those cases, for windows, it requires alt+F4 to close the window.

    sometimes, even that doesn’t work (key intercept script is running), and you have to resort to using ctl+alt+del to open up the task manager and shut it down that way.

    rare, but I’ve seen it enough times.

  6. #6 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 28, 2007

    sometimes, even that doesn’t work (key intercept script is running), and you have to resort to using ctl+alt+del to open up the task manager and shut it down that way.

    Scary. And there I was thinking I had been to pop-up hell.

  7. #7 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 28, 2007

    sometimes, even that doesn’t work (key intercept script is running), and you have to resort to using ctl+alt+del to open up the task manager and shut it down that way.

    Scary. And there I was thinking I had been to pop-up hell.

  8. #8 Ichthyic
    October 28, 2007

    I use Firefox with the noscript plugin and it works with brutal efficiency.

    have you found problems with sites that need scripts to run in order to display properly?

    Or do you just have favorite sites where you allow scripts to run on an individual basis?

  9. #9 Ichthyic
    October 28, 2007

    Have companies gone out of business because their commercials aren’t watched?

    never looked at the data for specific companies, but if you rely on advertising to sell your product, and nobody is seeing your advertising, that logically would suggest you would be up proverbial shit creek.

  10. #10 Ichthyic
    October 28, 2007

    When using noscript, I set it to block all scripts by default.

    hmm, must be better than they used to be.

    the older ones I tried a few years back were a bit too draconian.

    a lot of sites I visited had entire sections broken or missing, and if they were missing, there was no easy way to tell.

    I mean, there are very few sites that use absolutely NO scripting, Java or otherwise.

  11. #11 Ichthyic
    October 28, 2007

    If your products require paid-for advertising to sell it, and no other approach will work, then who cares if your company goes up shit creek?

    um, the people who work for the company, maybe? Investors, maybe?

    It sounds like your products are only recommended by people who you can pay to talk counter to their better judgement?

    so all advertising functions to counter people’s better judgement?

    sounds like you aren’t using your better judgement.

  12. #12 Ichthyic
    October 29, 2007

    so I don’t see that there’s any difference from the advertiser’s point of view if I use adblock or not.

    nope, only from the people trying to sell the ad space to advertisers to begin with.

    kinda hard for seed to make money selling ad space if it’s apparent most perusers of seed blogs block ads.

    not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing, mind you, as I totally agree that advertising on websites has gone overboard with all the flash crap.

    I figure if you have so many ad scripts, or flash ads running, that it takes the page nearly twice as long to load as it does without them, you need to rethink your banner rotation strategy.

    Pharyngula loads MUCH faster with the banner ads blocked.

    Maybe it’s time for Seed to rethink how and who it sells ad space to.

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