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Many websites are silently deploying anti-ad blocking measures

By Polycount ยท 37 replies
Dec 28, 2017
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  1. Since ad blockers first surfaced on the Internet many years ago, there's been an ongoing struggle between users who find ads intrusive and webmasters who need them to keep their sites afloat.

    Some website owners have given up the fight entirely and moved on to other means of monetization, including the implementation of "paywalls," subscriptions or affiliate links throughout their content.

    However, other websites have chosen to fight back by implementing ad blocker detection into their websites. According to a study performed by the University of Iowa and UC Riverside, roughly 30.5 percent of the top 10,000 websites on the Internet use the technology in some form, though its purpose differs greatly from site to site.

    Some publications use the tech for little more than the gathering of data or the occasional polite pop-up that asks users to turn off their ad blocker. Others take it a step further and implement more subtle anti-ad blocking measures. These can include "bait" content engineered to trigger ad blockers, allowing a site to silently re-deploy ads and effectively avoid detection from most modern ad blockers.

    Though these measures have seen increased adoption recently, the battle between ad providers and ad blockers is far from over. The study details a number of ways that developers of ad blocking software can retaliate against the changes, one of which could involve rewriting their software's code to fool a website's anti-ad blocker detection into thinking there is no ad blocker in the first place.

    The study notes that the Internet may soon find itself in the middle of a "technological battle" between ad blockers and ad providers as both sides continue to develop increasingly sophisticated detection and blocking systems.

    Researchers claim ad blockers keeping pace with anti-ad blocking efforts will be "crucial" to preserving the security and privacy of safety-conscious Internet users, with the potential for further reform in the online advertising industry down the line... that is, if ad blockers can keep the pressure up.

    Permalink to story.

  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,265   +4,933

    I don't care. What these morons need to get in their pathetic heads is, I buy based on my needs not what I see plaguing my view on a monitor. Whether or not I see the ads is not what gets me to pay. If a site needs ad clicks they can take it up with whoever is paying them, I'm not the one doing it.
  3. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 655   +469

  4. axiomatic13

    axiomatic13 TS Maniac Posts: 215   +154

    Block ads on your router. I use Untangle NG Firewall as my router, added all the ad domains and now ad's just show up as an empty white box in my browser. No ad block extension needed. Also sites with this ad bock detection tech do not give me the pop-up to ask me to whitelist. No annoyances. All win.
  5. Polycount

    Polycount TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,693   +381

    MonsterZero, Hexic and OutlawCecil like this.
  6. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,265   +4,933

    I will look into this.
    Charles Olson and EClyde like this.
  7. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,795   +1,510

    For ages now I've been using the HOSTS file created by MVPS. I've found it manages both Ads and nefarious scripts by controlling access to Domain Names. One of the latest is coinhive dot com which loads crypto mining scripts.

    The technology used here is to redirect *.nefarious.com references to your PC which:
    • a) gives the browser a 404 if accessed
    • b) and speeds up your browser by not waiting for the junk to be loaded
    Until recently, no CDN sites were impacted, but I have had to allow the following for techspot:
    # cache.fimservecdn.com
    # cdn.flashedmail.com
    # cdn.gigya.com
    # cdn.gumgum.com
    # cdn.mochiads.com
    # e1.cdn.qnsr.com
    # l1.cdn.qnsr.com
    # cdn.advertserve.com
    # cdn5.specificclick.net
    # cdn1.eyewonder.com
    # cdn1.smartadserver.com
    # cdn.springboard.gorillanation.com
    # cdn.triggertag.gorillanation.com
    # cdn.optmd.com
    # download.cdn.shareazaweb.com
    # cdn.turn.com
    # cdn1.adsdk.com
    # cdn2.adsdk.com
    # img-pcdn.adtech.de
    # aka-cdn-ns.adtech.de
    # aka-cdn.adtechus.com
    # aka-cdn-ns.adtechus.com
    # cdn.atwola.com
    # images-cdn.azoogleads.com
    # cdn-businessweek.com
    # cdn-gamingahead.com
    # cdn-justin.tv
    # cdn-ovguide.com
    # cdn-thestreet.com
    # cdn-transworld.net
    # cdn-veoh.com
    # [Cdnetworks][AS36408][ -]
    # cdn1.adadvisor.net
    # cdn.complexmedianetwork.com
    # cdn2.ads.datinggold.com
    # creative.ak.fbcdn.net
    # rmcdn.2mdn.net
    # rmcdn.f.2mdn.net
    # motifcdn.doubleclick.net
    # motifcdn2.doubleclick.net
    # cdn.brsrvr.com
    # [Net Access / Cdnetworks][AS8001][ -]
    # cdn.at.atwola.com
    # cdn1.adbard.net
    # cdn.amgdgt.com
    # cdn.valueclick.net
    # cdn.fastclick.net
    # cdn.winsoftware.com
    # download.cdn.drivecleaner.com
    Icysoul, wiyosaya and EClyde like this.
  8. TadMSTR

    TadMSTR TS Booster Posts: 56   +24

    Pi-Hole may be easier for most people. Runs on a Raspberry Pi but can also run on anything Ubuntu or Debian. Basically just a DNS server with blacklists for ad networks. Has a nice admin dashboard for managing blacklists and whitelists. Also shows you metrics of what is getting blocked.
    Antics, Reehahs and EClyde like this.
  9. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,858   +2,167

    Ads on websites have gotten so rediulous I just refuse to go to those sites anymore. To many websites have a click bait title and content that doesn't cover more than a paragraph but it's split over 12 pages each with multiple pop up full page ads.

    If ads weren't so forced and predatory we wouldn't have looked to ad blocking. What was their response? More aggressive advertising followed by our response of more aggressive ad blocking. Make a site I want to use that I don't NEED ad blocking on. Whatever happened to banners to the side? Now many websites are unusable.

    And now, once I see the message ad blocker detected, I hit the back button and go somewhere else.
  10. Hexic

    Hexic TS Evangelist Posts: 492   +317

    OutlawCecil and drjekelmrhyde like this.
  11. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,265   +4,933

    I've had a look and don't see a way to do this with either of my routers. It is possible I don't know what I'm looking for or how to set it up.
    1. F@ST 1704N (DHCP server enabled)
    2. ASUS RT-N10 (DHCP server disabled)
    The Asus RT-N10 is way too limited. I'd have better luck configuring the F@ST 1704N router.
  12. war59312

    war59312 TS Booster Posts: 133   +12

    What ads? ;)

    Proxy (Privoxy) + AdGuard + ScriptSafe + Ghostery + uBlock Orgin + Privacy Badger + Tamermonkey = Ad FREE.

    Everyone (every device on the network) is forced through the Privoxy and gets my ad blocking set up for "free".

    I also black ads and malware, spyware, etc. via DNS using BIND 9 with https://pgl.yoyo.org/adservers/ and http://www.malwaredomains.com/

    I also force Microsoft SmartScreen Filter and Google Safe Browsing on every device.

    Easy way to test if Google Safe Browsing is working btw: https://testsafebrowsing.appspot.com/

    I force the proxy (Privoxy) via my router which is running OpenWrt. Privoxy is running as a Transparent Proxy, see: http://blog.bodhizazen.net/linux/how-to-transparent-proxy/

    And yes https traffic too on most devices by using a valid self-signed cert installed on most devices that allow SSL traffic to pass thru and then be filtered. Sadly I cant install the cert nor proxy on my TV for example. But at least it still gets DNS filtered which blocks 99% of the ads just by itself. Http traffic of course still gets filtered thanks to the transparent proxy, I was just talking about https traffic. Like Gmail, facebook, etc.

    If running your own DNS is too much, then I highly recommend either Adguard DNS @ https://adguard.com/en/adguard-dns/overview.html or OpenDNS @ https://signup.opendns.com/homefree/

    Hope the helps.
    EClyde and wiyosaya like this.
  13. Neebsgaming

    Neebsgaming TS Member Posts: 18

    I use ad guard and ad blocker plus and ghostery's and firefox normal popup blocker and it works very well
  14. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,825   +2,174

    Interesting. I'll be looking into your suggestions since I run a separate Linux PC as router, firewall, and DNS for my home network. Thanks for the tip.
  15. Geez man. You're not worried about them eating up a ton of resources? Couldn't UBlock Origin just replace all of those?
  16. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,825   +2,174

    It has been pretty much proven in the past through multiple studies that TV advertising, which, as I see it, is very similar in style to internet advertising, does not work. A quick search will reveal this. Unfortunately, those that depend on advertising revenue for survival either do not realize or refuse to believe this - regardless of the delivery medium, I.e., TV, internet, etc.

    What may be even worse is that advertisers do not realize this, or do not want to face the fact that advertising does not work, so we get perpetual advertising attempting to create a market for products that we do not need or care to buy. I find it amazing that I see TV ads for the latest greatest smart phone that attempt to make it look sexy and by doing so, expect that people will buy it.

    The thing is, if advertisers faced the reality that most advertising does not work, it would cause quite a bit of chaos - not that I care.

    I wholeheartedly agree. I will not buy based on an ad. If I am in the market for something, I research it heavily and make a decision based on my research. And my research does not include advertising since many marketing departments cannot be trusted, IMO, to make reasonable claims about their products.
    BSim500 and cliffordcooley like this.
  17. Namtrooper

    Namtrooper TS Enthusiast Posts: 57   +26

    Mind sending me your list? As I am running untangle for home as well.
  18. Cubi Dorf

    Cubi Dorf TS Booster Posts: 141   +51

    I think most people ok with ads on web page. I am. But not ok with the tracking that is associated with it. Ad blocking is over reaction to trackers (ad block makes the tracking useless). I happy if web company get paid for the good work. but not if the payment is for selling the privacy.
    BSim500 likes this.
  19. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,265   +4,933

    That's partially due to the fact they don't know any different. I was that person for a long time.

    I might would be fine with ads, if there were half as many. And they didn't fly out in your face or start playing sound. I was willing to deal with them until they became an annoyance. Now that I've had a taste without them, I don't want them back at all. I would hang up my coat and never browse again before turning off my Adblock.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  20. I use AdBlock + & the native AdBlock for Opera.
    If a site refuses access because I use ad-blocking measures I just don't visit that site in the future.
    No ads here---

  21. Progamer

    Progamer TS Rookie

    I use armorfly browser on my cell. It blocks ads and pop ups. I use brave on laptop also blocks ads and pop ups
  22. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 602   +1,211

    As others have said above, a lot of this effort is on the wrong side of the war. People who tend to use adblockers are the ones who don't "click-through" / impulse-buy no matter what. And the kind of people who do, don't use adblockers, so trying to force ads to those least responsive is naturally backward by design vs how marketing is supposed to work. The most effective adverts are the ones I ask for ("Items on your wishlist are on sale", "New game releases this week" opt-in alert emails).

    Anti-adblock features which rely on yet another script being loaded slow down the web even further for everyone, and ad-blockers will respond with counter-anti-adblock features / drive people to use "The Nuclear Option" (NoScript + whitelist) which amusingly blocks client-side scripts designed to detect ad-blocking. Server side detection (usually based on the server monitoring "If this IP address hasn't also accessed the related advert files within 5 seconds of grabbing the main content, then Adblock = 1") relies on detecting adblockers not loading the ad files and can be fooled by adblockers going back to the "pretend to load then hide" method. All this does though is increases wasted bandwidth and page load times for everyone because the person in question won't be seeing the ads either way. A router block list / "PiHole" is another option.

    The real absurdity of "surely ads aren't that bad" is this link:-


    Page load time increases over base content due to ads:-

    - Airliners.net = +443% Bloat (8.7s No-Adblock vs 1.6s UBlock Origin)

    - Moviemistakes.com = +392% bloat (12.3s No-Adblock vs 2.5s uBlock Origin)

    - Sourceforge.net = +266% bloat (5.5s No-Adblock vs 1.5s uBlock Origin)

    - Tomshardware.com = +400% bloat. (22.2s No-Adblock vs 4.4s uBlock Origin)

    ^ Literally, 70-80% of what the CPU spends time on rendering modern web pages are adverts or tracking scripts (even if the ads themselves are "unobtrusive"). Just like the fallout (ad-skipping PVR's) from TV advert breaks increasing from 1-2 min decades ago to 5-8mins today - it's ironically the advertising industry's "saturation" and marketing industry's obsession with "Total Information Awareness" (and zero sense of self-awareness in knowing when to stop), that's the bottom line that created this stuff in the first place...
  23. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,779   +3,906

    Didn't "SpybotSD do this for you? I thought the "Immunization" feature loaded additions to the hosts file when it was updated.

  24. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,779   +3,906

    The "ad wars" officially began in earnest, with the introduction of the television into the American home. I can vividly remember my grandparents complaining aggressively, whenever the TV shows would go to commercial. "Those ads are so darned loud, turn that darned TV down"

    Analog TV used FM for the picture, and AM for the sound (IIRC). So the FCC fixed power output of the AM carrier wave (*) for commercial networks. (Let's call that "bandwidth" in geek jargon).

    However, AM (amplitude modulation), varies the width of the signal when the sound signal is added (modulated onto the carrier), and you can push the transmitter output past the legal limit, if the modulation signal goes over 100%. But yet the commercials still seemed so much louder than the shows. How the heck did they do that? (Stay tuned, we'll be right back)..........:(

    Well, through the use of compressor/ limiters. The limiting function prevents signal width / power to go past the legal limit, while the compressor function, drags the quietest parts of the audio source up the the same level as the loudest, and there you go, getting your point across big time! :eek:

    (*) For AM radio stations, the final amplifier was limited to 50,000 watts, and all the radio station that people wanted to listen to, were transmitting at that 50 Kw, and letting you know about it every 10 minutes or so.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  25. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,927   +1,197

    If ALL sites, were PASSIVE with their ads, I would never use an ad blocker, but when you go to a website,
    start reading and scrolling down, and 30-45 seconds later a video ad launches with VERY LOUD sound and it makes you jump out of your chair, then have to scroll back up to find it, to turn it off, THAT is the reason I use multiple ad blockers!
    DavidBailey likes this.

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