Wulf's Webden

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This is why I block ads


Is ad-blocking going to kill the web? It is easy to install browser extensions, like ad-block plus, that strip out a lot of the advertising; Opera even has a built in tool. It means a bit less visual distraction and a quite a lot less unnecessary bandwidth usage so, from the user perspective, it is a good thing. However, advertising is what keeps many websites running. Should I let the ads appear, pay for certain websites or just stick with the ones that don’t aggressively seek to persuade you away from ad blockers? I’m inclined towards the last answer: good bye, Webmonkey.com – you were an interesting news source but I got fed up with your ad blocking blocking.

The reason I want to avoid the ads is not because I can’t ignore them but because there is no guarantee that they won’t carry some malware payload. For example, researchers have recently uncovered the ‘Stegano’ malware which uses steganography – manipulation of images to contain information that you can’t see unless you know how to look. Combined with some hacked javascript, looking at the wrong picture can infect your machine; you might not even notice it because the damage is being done by information in nearly indistinguishable pixels in what might be an innocuous looking banner. This one was live in the wild for sometime because it also took the precaution of not running if it thought it might be on a computer belonging to a security researcher.

Should I pay instead? Possibly – but the select sites I subscribe to need to offer real value. Perhaps that is a rant for another day though.

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