We’ve been hit by a few annoying ads for SystemDoctor, Winﬁxer, ErrorSafe and DriveCleaner lately. If you see these at any of our properties, do not click on them. From my surﬁng around, they do not look like things that should be on your computer. Some accuse these products of being spyware.
However, tracing what caused these ads proved difﬁcult. There were some pages that hinted that smaller ad networks were behind these, but our investigations showed that it was one of the better ones. We notiﬁed that network on the 3rd, but I don’t think they were able to trace it. When you go down their client list, it all looks very innocent, with some solid international brands there. We approached a few of the others, too, once we narrowed down which networks were on the pages that triggered the ads.
Not that that was 100 per cent certain: sometimes, these ads can come from other websites and be triggered minutes after you leave. Even Google has a notice to that effect on its site.
Today, after being hit by those pop-ups again—they, in fact, seize the whole page and in the case of IE7, close the browser—my blood was up. Bear in mind that I am a layman who seems to encounter computer problems more than the average person. However, they are usually errors that regular tech support excuses can’t solve: I am the person who seems to ﬁnd fault ﬁrst, is dismissed, and then, many hours or days later, is proved to be correct all along. Maybe it’s because I am not a geek that I don’t use computers in the normal way and ﬁnd these issues.
My investigations showed that the potential-spyware ads usually came after an ad for CareerBuilder.com, which I take to be a very credible ﬁrm. In particular, the CareerBuilder.com ad would be hosted by a domain called 2mdn.net. A quick search shows that there is some connection between 2mdn and these products.
We’ve had to remove some of this ad network’s code from the more highly trafﬁcked pages on our sites, though not all—we’re going to give them the beneﬁt of the doubt that its folks will remove CareerBuilder.com from their rotation ASAP, now that we have narrowed down the problem and if it is indeed the cause. However, if it is not done quickly enough in the next few hours—and it is the 5th now—we may have to replace all their coding with other networks’, just in case we are right and to protect our readers. We can then see whether the ads still come up.
It does make me wonder if the other publishers at this network’s other sites even know—or if the network has genuinely been duped and cannot trace or replicate the problem.
PS.: The more I read about it, the more certain I am about replacing all the code. This should be completed as I type this.—JY Posted by Jack Yan, 01:57
Hi Jack,Post a Comment
It might be worth installing Fiddler (a free product) or Microsoft Network Monitor (again a free product, but be careful with sharing the data it captures, it may include usernames and passwords) to capture proof that the advertisements are appearing, and causing automatic redirects and things like that. Please feel free to review my articles about Winfixer that show you the type of information required to prove a problem to advertising networks.
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