More Internet users are employing Ad-blocking software than ever. Of course, a primary reason for installing Ad-blocking software is to avoid the interruption, irritation, and distraction that ads can cause. But not all ads offer only promotional content – malware or “malvertising” can spread through ad networks. It is not only shady sections of the web with this problem. High-profile global ad networks used by sites with sterling reputations have all spread malware. Eventually, these rogue ads are identified and removed, but not before the damage is done.
Advertising supports the free access to many sites on the Internet. It is commonly claimed that if everyone uses Ad-block, free access to information will die. I doubt that is entirely true, after all, the Internet offers plenty of free information which has no ads, or funds through donations. But it is true that Ad-blocking is disruptive to the way of life for most content producers. Almost eighty percent of Ad-block users are willing to allow specific kinds of ads, from sites they trust and wish to support. It is no longer a simple question of whether to “cheat” to avoid the annoyance of ads, it is no longer safe to browse the web without Ad-blocking software. It’s as if a sponsor has sprung for catering services for your event, but one out of every hundred canapes is deadly poison, and the guy at the door says you have to eat one to get in.
When your computer requests a web page, in addition to the content you see, it also receives references to other specific content which is part of the page. These references might be for the content you requested but many of these references are for advertisements. Your computer retrieves all these content assets and builds a page to display. Ad-blocking software examines every one of these references to content and attempts to use matching rules to identify the ads. The references to ad content are then ignored, and your browser builds a page with the ads redacted. The matching rules, or filter lists, for Ad-blocking are produced by volunteers or commercial organizations. You can add your own rules to block ads which sneak past the Ad-blocking software.
If you employ Ad-blocking software, you can enable ads on any site you trust and wish to support. You may also encounter websites which will not work if you have Ad-blocking enabled. You have control, and can choose to disable blocking for that site – but 74% of ad-block users simply leave such websites. With ad-blocking, your safety from malware is greatly increased. Without ad-blocking, you have a vulnerability which cannot be defended.
There are many options for Ad-blocking, one of the oldest and most popular is Ad-block Plus, and it’s a good place to start.
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