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