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Tracking down the malicious ads

QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 21,003
Several months ago, you started having a malicious ad problem on this site.  There's some particular ad network that claims focus periodically.  If you try to type a forum post while one of those ads is displayed, the cursor periodically disappears in the middle of your typing and the letters you type stop taking effect.  Having to click back to the text box in the middle of every other sentence is an enormous nuisance, and perilously close to "forum doesn't work" levels of badness.

I was pretty sure that it was due to malicious ads, as if you block ads, the problem vanished.  Allow ads again and the problem comes back.  I complained about it repeatedly back then, and when the problem didn't get fixed, gave up and just blocked ads on the forum.  It's only really a problem for forum usage, not the main page, so I didn't block ads on your main page.

Today, the problem came back, even with ads blocked.  I scrolled up and saw that you've found some way to get ads past the ad-blocker.  I get that you hate ad blockers, as you need revenue.  But you also need for your site to work, and malicious ads impede that.

After a bunch of repeated reloading of the page over the course of typing some lengthy posts, and flipping the ad blocker off and on repeatedly, I may have isolated the problem.  On the right sidebar, you have an "MMOs and games to play..." box that highlights some games that have paid for ads here.  Right below that, you put a vertical banner ad that is much taller than it is wide.  That's the spot where the problematic ads are appearing.

One particular ad network has the vertical banner split into three boxes that are each kind of close to square.  You can click an X in the top right of each to make the particular ad disappear, and it asks why you don't want to see that ad.  "Because it's breaking the web site" is not one of the options, but it should be.  If that type of ad appears, then the forum-breaking behavior of the cursor periodically disappearing happens.  If it's a more normal banner ad, then the forum works fine.  Clicking to close all three of the sub-ads doesn't fix the problem.  It appears that the problem isn't with the particular ads that cover 1/3 of the panel, but the software that delivers the ads.

The malicious ad is kind of stealthy, in that it doesn't load until after well after the rest of the page.  It also doesn't load until you've likely scrolled the page way down so that you won't see the ad.  That makes it rather useless for advertising purposes.  It makes me wonder if it's trying to be a keylogger or something, and the "ads" are just an excuse to be allowed on the page, and that's why it's claiming focus:  so that it will pick up your keystrokes.  If that's the case, then that's much worse than merely breaking forum functionality.
idontlikemynamemmolouRhoklawOctagon7711PhryRidelynnSlapshot1188GdemamiKyleran
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Comments

  • DMKanoDMKano Member LegendaryPosts: 21,228
    edited January 13
    It's been bad since this morning - there's some ad or script running that "blacks out" the entire middle page (where forums and content) is displayed and all you see is ads.

    If there is anything that will ever make me stop coming here it's this crap.

    The only way to see content is to reload the page - like wtf?

    I'll post a screen once it happens again.

    poorbaby
  • MadCoderOneMadCoderOne Member UncommonPosts: 214
    edited January 13
    I would look at your PC friend. I come here a lot, no issues.
    mmolouPhrysomeforumguy
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 21,003
    If the problem is with my computer, then why has it happened many times on this site and never on any other site that I visit?  And why for so many months did blocking ads make the problem vanish?
    DMKanommolouGdemami
  • RhoklawRhoklaw Member EpicPosts: 6,553
    Well, I've been having this issue for the past month at least and I have to agree, I've had an ad blocker up because I'm very tired of intrusive software being run through this site. Calling it advertisement is putting it nicely as I have a more colorful definition for it.
    mmolou

  • DMKanoDMKano Member LegendaryPosts: 21,228
    I would look at your PC friend. I come here a lot, no issues.
    Umm have you ever looked to see what a single page reload does in the background as far as ads contacts?

    lol

    and this is not even all of it:


    RidelynnpoorbabyAlmostLancelot
  • Octagon7711Octagon7711 Member LegendaryPosts: 8,843
    I had this issue yesterday or the day before.  I switched to another browser. From Brave to Chrome and had no problems.  This Chrome does have more aggressive blockers.

    "We all do the best we can based on life experience, point of view, and our ability to believe in ourselves." - Naropa      "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."  SR Covey

  • PhryPhry Member LegendaryPosts: 11,004
    I've found there are less problems if you block cookies from google.com .. but clearing cookies automatically once the browser is closed also helps. Perhaps i am a bit paranoid about such things, but then again, preventatives are also a form of 'cure'  :/
  • Prime_DirectivePrime_Directive Member RarePosts: 1,386
    try using adblocker addon for your browser 
    Gdemami
    There is a multiverse inside our minds which millions live.
  • PhryPhry Member LegendaryPosts: 11,004
    Opera browser has addblocking by default, firefox used to be pretty good, google chrome and IE, i just avoid.
  • Prime_DirectivePrime_Directive Member RarePosts: 1,386
    operas is basically mozilla, same netscape formula , but with different prefixes for css to be annoyying for developers
    Gdemami
    There is a multiverse inside our minds which millions live.
  • ScorchienScorchien Member LegendaryPosts: 6,874
    Not experiencing any of that , and that area in the OP is blacked out as normal ..
  • Slapshot1188Slapshot1188 Member LegendaryPosts: 11,073
    This is happening a TON on me today.  I thought I was going crazy.  Exactly like Quizzical describes... I will be typing a response and suddenly my cursor goes elsewhere.  I thought I was hitting the windows key by accident or something.

    If someone figures out how to fix this or a program to load to stop it please let me know.  This is pretty bad today.

    "I should point out that no other company has shipped out a beta on a disc before this." - Official Mortal Online Lead Community Moderator

    Starvault's reponse to criticism related to having a handful of players as the official "test" team for a supposed MMO: "We've just have another 10ish folk kind enough to voulenteer added tot the test team" (SIC) This explains much about the state of the game :-)

    Proudly wearing the Harbinger badge since Dec 23, 2017. 

    Coined the phrase "Role-Playing a Development Team" January 2018

    "Oddly Slap is the main reason I stay in these forums." - Mystichaze April 9th 2018

    My ignore list finally has one occupant after 12 years. I am the strongest supporter of free speech on here, but free speech does not mean forced listening. Have fun my friend. Hope you find a new stalking target.

  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member LegendaryPosts: 8,483
    This is happening a TON on me today.  I thought I was going crazy.  Exactly like Quizzical describes... I will be typing a response and suddenly my cursor goes elsewhere.  I thought I was hitting the windows key by accident or something.

    If someone figures out how to fix this or a program to load to stop it please let me know.  This is pretty bad today.

    Experienced the same myself, and held the same wrong assumption you did at first.

    image
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 21,003
    Scorchien said:
    Not experiencing any of that , and that area in the OP is blacked out as normal ..
    I could certainly believe that it's possible to block the malicious ad.  But it's the sort of ad that should be blocked by ad network, or at least by the site (by dropping the ad network) before it ever attempts to send it to the end user's browser.
  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member LegendaryPosts: 8,483
    I had this issue yesterday or the day before.  I switched to another browser. From Brave to Chrome and had no problems.  This Chrome does have more aggressive blockers.
    I use Chrome and still experience the text cursor jumping issue periodically.

    image
  • ScorchienScorchien Member LegendaryPosts: 6,874
    edited January 13
    Quizzical said:
    Scorchien said:
    Not experiencing any of that , and that area in the OP is blacked out as normal ..
    I could certainly believe that it's possible to block the malicious ad.  But it's the sort of ad that should be blocked by ad network, or at least by the site (by dropping the ad network) before it ever attempts to send it to the end user's browser.
    Yea , im not trying to be that guy .. Just givin feedback Quiz .. i got nothing

      I think No-Script , is blocking it or Ad blocker , im not a pc guy
  • Slapshot1188Slapshot1188 Member LegendaryPosts: 11,073
    I had this issue yesterday or the day before.  I switched to another browser. From Brave to Chrome and had no problems.  This Chrome does have more aggressive blockers.
    I use Chrome and still experience the text cursor jumping issue periodically.
    Chrome here too.  Although I want to say it’s happened on my iPad as well but can’t be sure.  Now that I know it’s not me I will keep an eye on it.
    MadFrenchie

    "I should point out that no other company has shipped out a beta on a disc before this." - Official Mortal Online Lead Community Moderator

    Starvault's reponse to criticism related to having a handful of players as the official "test" team for a supposed MMO: "We've just have another 10ish folk kind enough to voulenteer added tot the test team" (SIC) This explains much about the state of the game :-)

    Proudly wearing the Harbinger badge since Dec 23, 2017. 

    Coined the phrase "Role-Playing a Development Team" January 2018

    "Oddly Slap is the main reason I stay in these forums." - Mystichaze April 9th 2018

    My ignore list finally has one occupant after 12 years. I am the strongest supporter of free speech on here, but free speech does not mean forced listening. Have fun my friend. Hope you find a new stalking target.

  • GruntyGrunty Member EpicPosts: 8,657
    edited January 13
    Insticator anti-adblocking

    I've been receiving their own advertisement on this website for months.  Their own ads are constantly flashing and moving and are really the only ads on this website that I've been trying to block because of how annoying they are.  
    "I used to think the worst thing in life was to be all alone.  It's not.  The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone."  Robin Williams
  • k61977k61977 Member RarePosts: 1,242
    edited January 13
    I run ad blockers all the time anymore.  I realize sites like this one need revenue to run but to be honest I don't need all the issues or risk that can come with ads.  All sites really need to come up with a better solution to funding because I will not stop using an Ad blockers and when sites start getting around the blocker I just switch to another one that is working.  Just opening this page on the forum alone over 11 ads were blocked. 
    RidelynnWalkinGlennOctagon7711bartoni33Gdemami
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 21,003
    edited January 13
    k61977 said:
    I run ad blockers all the time anymore.  I realize sites like this one need revenue to run but to be honest I don't need all the issues or risk that can come with ads.  All sites really need to come up with a better solution to funding because I will not stop using an Ad blockers and when sites start getting around the blocker I just switch to another one that is working.  Just opening this page on the forum alone over 11 ads were blocked. 
    Do you want for basically every site that isn't there to sell you something to make you pay for access to the site?  As a way to get revenue, that's the alternative to advertising.

    As a way to stop malicious ads, the best idea I've got is to make a restricted programming language that is incapable of expressing most of the things that make ads malicious.  If an ad can't redirect you, can't play sound, can't resize itself, can't access your hard drive (whether to read or write), can't launch another process, runs in its own thread and can't spawn another, can't see anything else on the page, and whatever other restrictions we need, then the malicious ad problem would be greatly mitigated.  Ads created in that ad language wouldn't be guaranteed to be clean, but they'd be much less problematic than what we have now.  The problem is that if someone created all of that infrastructure, the ad blockers would all immediately block everything written in the ad language, as it would flag itself as being too easy to identify as an advertisement.
    Gdemami
  • k61977k61977 Member RarePosts: 1,242
    Quizzical said:
    k61977 said:
    I run ad blockers all the time anymore.  I realize sites like this one need revenue to run but to be honest I don't need all the issues or risk that can come with ads.  All sites really need to come up with a better solution to funding because I will not stop using an Ad blockers and when sites start getting around the blocker I just switch to another one that is working.  Just opening this page on the forum alone over 11 ads were blocked. 
    Do you want for basically every site that isn't there to sell you something to make you pay for access to the site?  As a way to get revenue, that's the alternative to advertising.

    As a way to stop malicious ads, the best idea I've got is to make a restricted programming language that is incapable of expressing most of the things that make ads malicious.  If an ad can't redirect you, can't play sound, can't resize itself, can't access your hard drive (whether to read or write), can't launch another process, runs in its own thread and can't spawn another, can't see anything else on the page, and whatever other restrictions we need, then the malicious ad problem would be greatly mitigated.  Ads created in that ad language wouldn't be guaranteed to be clean, but they'd be much less problematic than what we have now.  The problem is that if someone created all of that infrastructure, the ad blockers would all immediately block everything written in the ad language, as it would flag itself as being too easy to identify as an advertisement.
    It shouldn't be the users that have to create ways to combat malicious ads on sites, that's the problem today though.  It should be on the host to do, but in today's world that isn't the way it works.  Most say hey we do our part an don't put anything bad up or allow anyone to put up anything malicious, but how many times has that actually worked.  I have created scripts in the past myself to stop this crap, but to be honest I got tired of having to do it myself so I just use whichever program is working anymore to just stop ads altogether.  Unfortunately this is the world we live in.  The internet brings out the worst in humanity in reality, an they will do whatever they can to make the easiest money, which in case of the internet is find ways to steal your information an use it or sell it to someone else that will.  Ultimately the cost to host sites is peanuts these days to be honest compared to 20 years ago.  I will be honest I would be more than happy to donate a little money here or there to sites that are 100% clean with no ads, unfortunately again most likely the majority wouldn't be so we are stuck with what we have.  Until sites are 100% clean I will continue to do my part on my end to protect myself.
    Gdemami
  • Grunt350Grunt350 Member UncommonPosts: 56
    I usually use uBlock origin in chrome to infinity and beyond to get rid of most of the ads.
  • TillerTiller Member EpicPosts: 8,017
    No adblock is like driving without a seat belt imho.  Adblock for me all the way, 14 are blocked on this page alone.

    I have tried to turn it off for a few sites, then ended up regretting it instantly. I once turned it off for Dulfy's GW2 page and instantly got one hell of a virus that nothing could remove from one of their ads. I've turned it off here but when I'm on my old laptop this site slows to a crawl from the ads. Since then I am afraid to turn it off anywhere. If the site won't let me visit with it on, I leave the site. Until websites get rid of the flash tracker adds with malicious scripts, I always keep adblock on for the safety of my computer.
    Gdemami


  • DMKanoDMKano Member LegendaryPosts: 21,228
    edited January 14
    Tiller said:
    No adblock is like driving without a seat belt imho.  Adblock for me all the way, 14 are blocked on this page alone.

    I have tried to turn it off for a few sites, then ended up regretting it instantly. I once turned it off for Dulfy's GW2 page and instantly got one hell of a virus that nothing could remove from one of their ads. I've turned it off here but when I'm on my old laptop this site slows to a crawl from the ads. Since then I am afraid to turn it off anywhere. If the site won't let me visit with it on, I leave the site. Until websites get rid of the flash tracker adds with malicious scripts, I always keep adblock on for the safety of my computer.

    The ad networks this site uses are awful

    I run ublock, disconnected, blacklists and umbrella dns.

    The amount of blocks per page load here is ridiculous
    poorbaby
  • FlyByKnightFlyByKnight Member EpicPosts: 3,967
    edited January 14
    I adblock and purposefully block everything here now. There's no accountability and as stated previously they use janky ad networks that inject nasty code every once in a blue moon. Not worth white listing dealing with the fallout #sorrynotsorry

    Even now I'm wondering which of the network they're using is circumventing adblock out of the box, because I'm seeing ads slip through again.

    Also, this site has close to 100 3rd party ad applications (not including Google). I'm in too decent of a mood to kick up dust about it but yah.
    Kyleran
    "As far as the forum code of conduct, I would think it's a bit outdated and in need of a refre *CLOSED*" 

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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