Ad blocking software usage in the US grew by 48% last year alone.
Advertising is an everyday fact of life on the internet, but more and more users are using ad blocking software to evade seeing them at all.
From the perspective of a web publisher, you can probably understand the concern over this growth of ad-blocking. Websites reliant on advertising revenue are increasingly starting to lock out users who choose to use ad blockers, such as the Washington Post, and more recently, Forbes.
A free internet?
The vast majority of websites are free, and rely on revenue from advertising to survive. Just asking users to disable ad-blockers has proven to be rarely successful, and profitable subscription only services are few and far between.
Forbes recently deployed this ‘please disable your ad blocker to proceed’ tactic for anyone wishing to read articles on its site. In an unfortunate twist for Forbes, however users who did this were then almost immediately stung with dangerous advertising malware ‘pop-unders.’
A few weeks before Christmas, Forbes visitors with with Ad block or uBlock enabled were suddenly greeted with a message telling them to disable their ad blocking programs if they wished to see any content.
The malware infected ads were posted in order to infect computers, and then either steal personal information such as passwords and bank details, or to encrypt people’s hardware using ransomware.
Is it Forbes fault, or problem?
The malware ads themselves were not necessarily the fault of Forbes, although responsibility should ultimately lie with them, even if it ultimately, doesn’t. Like most websites, Forbes uses third-party advertising networks to show ads on its site, as the costs involved for companies to setup their own dedicated advertising solution are known to be prohibitive.
Forbes is just the latest large website to be discovered opening the back door for cyber criminals to gain access to users’ computers.
It was only yesterday that we covered the fact that Trend Micro’s antivirus password manager could allow hackers to steal users password information.
It was only the week before that that we also covered the same type of issue being discovered in AVG’s Web TuneUp extension for Google Chrome.
Video site Dailymotion put over 128 million of its users at risk at the end of last year that came from rogue ad malware from their the 3rd party advertiser
The problem for internet users everywhere, is that when ad networks let malware slip through like this on authority web sites the argument for convincing people to not use ad blockers will inevitably be listened to by fewer and fewer ears.