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Adblocker blockers move to a whole new level

February 2nd, 2016 by Mark Daly in Industry News No Comments »
Adblocker blockers move to a whole new level ilicomm Technology Solutions

GALE WARNING

Hold onto your hats!

Adblockers do pretty much what they say.

They usually run as browser plugins, so they can see what’s coming and going in your browser, try to identify ads, and stop them from being downloaded, rendered or displayed.

You can also block ads at your web gateway, if you have one, but the idea is the same: let through the bulk of the site, but get rid of the ads.

Adblockers can recognise ads in numerous ways, for example:

  • By maintaining a blocklist of URLs used to link to ads.
  • By detecting the JavaScript that is used to fetch ads.
  • By spotting the HTML used for the actual ad content.

If that sounds like how an anti-virus works, or application control software, or a web filter, don’t be surprised.

The principle is generic: write an algorithm which examines data objects and divides them into two distinct sets, X and not-X.

ADBLOCKERS CONSIDERED HARMFUL

In theory, adblockers ought to be uncontroversial.

Some countries block the sites you are allowed to view (by law, in practice, or both), but we don’t know of any jurisdictions where you aren’t allowed to filter your own traffic by choice, over and above any minimum required by law.

But in practice, adblockers have turned into a contentious issue, because many sites that allow free access rely on ad revenue as their way of recovering what we’ll refer to as “the cost of free.”

As a result, people who use adblockers are seen as leeches, for want of a better word, who enjoy free content while suppressing any chance of the website making money out of ads.

Indeed, anti-adblocking site PageFair, in a joint press release with Adobe in August 2015, claimed that adblocking would cost the business world an astonishing $22,000,000,000 (yes, that’s 22 billion dollars!) in 2015.

But there’s a deeper aspect to this dilemma.

ADS CONSIDERED HARMFUL

Although lots of users block ads simply because they don’t like them (which makes you wonder just how much ad revenue they would generate if they were compelled to see the ads, but that’s a question for another time), we know that many people block ads for security reasons.

That’s because of malvertising, where crooks hack into an ad server’s delivery network, insert malware, and sit back while mainstream sites start attacking their own visitors with poisoned ads.

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