Monday, September 14, 2009

Malicious ads

Another problem with online ads is malicious ads. Sunday the New York Times placed the following warning on its website:

Some readers have seen a pop-up box warning them about a virus and directing them to a site that claims to offer antivirus software. We believe this was generated by an unauthorized advertisement and are working to prevent the problem from recurring. If you see such a warning, we suggest that you not click on it. Instead, quit and restart your Web browser. Questions and comments can be sent to

Some additional information can be found here .

According to the second link the New York Times believes it has eliminated the problem (although I encountered one of the malicious ads after reading the first warning). Even so this sort of thing hardly encourages readers to trust online ads. If the New York Times can't manage to keep malicious ads out of their online newspaper why should anybody trust any online ad. A TV commercial may be annoying but it is not likely to hijack your TV.


  1. Your web browser is a link in the chain of communication that leads from the suppliers of web pages to the monitor on your computer. There is no good reason why this link also should allow those suppliers to access other parts of your computer and possibly insert into them viruses or other malicious software. That vendors of browsers (I shall not name names; we know who they are) ever provided this capability and that they have yet to disable it attests to their incompetence. They of course tell us that they have done the best that is technically feasible, but I am only one of many computer scientists who know from personal experience that they are either displaying ignorance or being disingenuous.

  2. I had two of these virus like items pop up. It was strange to see them since I had pop ups turned off. One viruslike piece of malware Advanced Visus Protection actually loaded....I may have been startled into clicking on it. I sent an email to McAfee, my firewll provider. Their suggestion was that I should find my own cleaner on the web. If I needed more help, I could talk to a technician at MacAfee for 80 dollars, who might be able to help me (or not). I am beginning to wonder why I am paying MacAfee to "protect" my hard drive.

  3. Still more about the malicious ad on the NYT website.