Do ad blockers really help protect you from malware?

By | August 29, 2015
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Do ad blockers really help keep you safer?

Our friends at Emsisoft wrote a blog about how ad blockers keep you safer (which you can read here). Most always we agree with Emsisoft’s blogs, but his time we think they got it wrong.

The most common problems most people have with their computers are PUPs and Malware. Most PUPs and malware are installed on computers with the user’s consent – albeit not real knowledgeable consent. The users downloads a freeware program from C|Net, Softonic, or numerous other download sites that bundle the freeware programs with one or more PUPs or malware programs. When the user installs the freeware programs he or she is given the “option” to install there other “programs” (malware or PUPs); most of the time the options to install these other “programs” are pre-checked. In other words, in order NOT to install them, the user has to uncheck each of the pre-selected options or, guess what? That’s right, they have installed PUPs or malware on their computer with YOUR consent.

Legally, leaving the options to install “other” programs checked, gives C|Net, Softonic, or whoever else put together the bundled installer the right to install additional software on your computer. That’s right, even if you don’t want the PUPS/malware programs installed, by leaving those check boxes checked,  you’re giving your legal consent to allow the PUPs and/or malware to install on your computer.

None of this would be prevented by any ad blocker we know of – and we have experience with a lot, if not most of them.

Another way malware and PUPs find they way onto computers is via the fake download button…which we like to call “Big green buttons”.  You can read our article on big green buttons here. Essentially, big green buttons are the ones that look like this:

Great free software! Download now! IT IS FREE! FREE!

FREE! FREE! NO TRICKS! IT'S FREE! Great free software! Download now! IT IS FREE! FREE!

Great free software! Download now!

The “Big Green Button” trick is used a lot.  Here’s an example.

Mike’s Marvelous YouTube Saver!

FREE! FREE! FREE!

Hiya folks. You have always wished you could save YouTube videos and save or even edit them on your own computer, right? And you want to steal music by stripping the audio from YouTube music videos and turning them into MP3s thus avoiding paying 99 cents to Apple or Google, both of which you feel have enough money already. Am I right or am I right? Ha! Ha! Don’t ya love it?

Anyway with Mike’s Marvelous YouTube Saver you can do all that and more. Steal videos with reckless abandon, make illegal MP3s and save money.  Mike’s Marvelous YouTube Saver not only saves YouTube Video and music, it saves you money. You gotta love me right! And I’m going to save you money, because Mikes Marvelous YouTube Saver is FREE. FREE. FREE! Yep….100% honest-to-goodness FREEWARE!

You can download Mikes Marvelous YouTube Saver right now -for free, forever!

FREE! FREE! NO TRICKS! IT'S FREE! Great free software! Download now! IT IS FREE! FREE!

Mike’s Marvelous YouTube Saver contains no malware, PUPs, or any other bad stuff. It’s completely clean and completely free. Really!!!

Great free software! Download now!

Thanks so much for visiting my page today and for downloading my software! It’s only 160KB and it contains no malware. It’s free to use forever. You never have to pay me for it. It’s free, free, free I tells ya!

FREE! FREE! NO TRICKS! IT'S FREE! Great free software! Download now! IT IS FREE! FREE!

Download Mikes Marvelous YouTube Saver 

All those big green download buttons lead to pages for other YouTube or audio/video software which are or are bundled with malware and PUPs. The idea here is for Mike to make money from Mike’s Marvelous YouTube Saver by sending you to other pages – and when you click one of those big green buttons, Mike gets paid – and if  you are not careful you’ll end up downloading something other than the program you came to get:  “Mike’s Marvelous YouTube Saver”.

Not an ad blocker we know of is going to save you from the green button trick; not one is going to guide you t the correct link. Not one ad blocker is going to think for you. Not one.

A couple of other points we’d like to make:

  1. Ad blockers do not block all ads. Advertiser’s are always one step ahead of ad-blocker technology. No ad blocker can block all types of ads.
  2. By blocking Google Ads (most often used by small sites like ours) you take away much needed revenue from small sites. And a lot of freeware developers depend on Google ads (and other ads) to pay expenses. It’s not free to operate a Web site, especially not one that generates a lot of download traffic, which uses up a lot of bandwidth. Many freeware developers who can’t make expenses by placing Google Adsense ads (or other easily blockable ads) on their pages, often turn to software bundling to make ends meet.
  3. Ad blockers not only don’t protect you from the kinds of annoyances and computer problems caused by PUPs and malware, they often don’t block the most annoying kinds of ad.

We don’t think ad blockers do much of anything other than take away a source of revenue the small mom & pop sites and the sites of small freeware developers.

Most malware & PUPs don’t come from advertisements, most come from bundled installers and download button trickery – and ad blockers won’t help with either of those.

Ad blockers are a bad idea because they take away revenue from the sites who need it most – smaller sites like ours depend on this revenue stream to supplement other income and pay expenses. Ad blockers do not protect you from the most common malware and PUPs.

10 thoughts on “Do ad blockers really help protect you from malware?

  1. Doug

    After reading Emsisoft’s comments on ad blockers I started using their Surf Protection to ‘block and advise’. I started receiving Emsisoft popups advising sites they blocked and they were blocking them on the Cloudeight webpages I downloaded. I ran a few and marked the sites they blocked to ‘allow’. So far it is working and I will keep allowing your sites. After all, I don’t want you to have to increase your prices for Direct Compute Care, etc. because you may lose money from the ads. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Jeff

    Haaa123, I have started using add blocker and the difference it has made to the speed my webpages load—— is almost unbelievable and besides, I DON’T HAVE ALL THOSE PESKY ANIMATED FLIPPY FLOPPY ADDS FLIPPY FLOPPING ON MY SCREEN!! I understand your point about making money from the adds—–but??
    What about the band width they HOG?? My internet connection is too slow now, without all that crap jamming it up!!
    What about when some one—-in a careless moment—–clicks on one of those dirty adds?? Is there a chance they may get ADD WARE/MALWARE??
    Sorry, but I can’t help but wonder!!

    Reply
  3. Arnie Brown

    I was just a little hesitant to take Emsisoft”s suggestion and glad to hear that you folks were not in favour of their suggestion either.

    Reply
  4. mike

    Somehow my wife’s windows computer was infected by not having on ABP blocker. I was shut off somehow and an extension was added to chrome that opened the door to control her computer. I had to take it to the MSN store in Indianapolis to get it cleared (free service from MSN stores) Don’t believe Cloudeight on this one, they are wrong as rain.

    Reply
    1. infoave Post author

      Impoossible. Your wife installed a type of malware, which changes the IP settings and changes the browser’s shortcut and home page and search settings. I mean, if we were wrong, I’d admit it, but the problem your wife had is a 10-20 minute fix – tops. And no ad blocker in the world would have changed anything. As much as you don’t want to admit it, she installed malware either by clicking the wrong download link/button – or by installing a freeware program with bundled malware. We see this kind of stuff every single day in our computer repair business and I’d estimate about 50% of those with these kinds of problems have and ad blocker. So, please, make sure you understand the hows and whys before you tell people how wrong someone else is. We have almost 2 decades experience with the Internet and computers..and we’ve worked on over 3500 computer since 2011. If the “MSN” store told you that an ad blocker would have saved the day, please give me the phone number of the store and and your full name (send it to me via the cloudeight address) and I’ll talk to them about it. I’m quite positive they didn’t tell you an ad blocker would have prevented it.

      Reply
  5. Marie

    I am another one that uses an adblocker. I have for years now. Like Jeff I noticed immediately that it speeds up page loads especially on those larger sites that insist on a LOT of larger ads, moving ads & pop up ads.
    If the site is a smaller site, like yours, that uses non invasive ads then I unblock for that particular site. But I have control over which sites I allow to show me ads. (I do NOT use my adblocker on your site here since I do want you to get the revenue you would get from them) I have quite a few sites “whitelisted” to show me ads for that same reason. It is the larger sites that seem to have worse and more invasive ads that slow down the page loads and are very annoying as I browse (or play games). I do no really believe they keep you safer, that was never my intention on using them. I use an adblocker to block the ads.
    So, as I do use an adblocker I make sure I allow sites such as yours that may be dependent on them for revenue and do not have invasive ads that would slow down my computer on them. Larger company sites (for the most part, there are some exceptions) get blocked.

    Reply
  6. Holly

    I use and love Emsisoft and think they are great. But was not sure the adblocker was for me and was hoping Cloudeight would respond to it. Glad they did! I too hate all those pop up ads but just ignore them all and never click on them! However after reading what TC said I just see for me I don’t need this. I appreciate Emsisoft for trying though.

    Reply
  7. Dawn Campbell

    I use an ad blocker too but was unaware of being able to keep Cloudeight “whitelisted” and never even thought of the revenue end of it for them. Thanks Marie!!!

    Reply
  8. Jeff

    I don’t know what all the fuss is about regarding Emsisoft article on Ad Blocker. I have read through the article a couple of times and I don’t see anything there that misled me into thinking that it would take the place of antimalware software. It was mostly a commonsense article that was pretty well correct and pointed out the need for taking care about clicking on adds. Maybe most adds would be safe, but you could never be sure!!! I guess Emsisoft was hoping for some sales of their software and I guess it’s just another form of advertising!!?
    Personally, I do not ever click on any adds that display on any web page I’m viewing, even though they are quite often adds to do with things I have been looking for/at. All that tells me is how much Google and other sites track one with cookies or what ever and it is rather annoying to say the least, especially considering that one has already bought the particular item and is not looking for another one.
    Anyway, Ad Blocker by default , does not intentionally block sites who offer decent adverts, so their theory of helping clean up web sites to only show acceptable adds isn’t such a bad idea after all, I think Cloudeight would agree with that!! After installing Ad Blocker on a couple of my computers the outright difference it made to how quick web pages loaded was astounding and I certainly will be keeping it on the computers.

    Reply
  9. Dave

    “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

    Firstly let me say I’m a fan of your’s. I understand you need revenue. I use your start page, and have put you on the whitelist for Adblock. I have also installed Emsisoft on two computers through you.

    This might be an opportunity to explain – where a domain name is in a URL( so other people can whitelist you on Adblock also.)

    Reply

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