Our browser extensions will be taking a more active stance against online ads, stopping all of them with an adblocker – not just the malicious ones.
The change comes as the levels of malicious and intrusive ads are growing from bad to worse. We started towards this step by evaluating adblocking technologies together with the potential threats and risks to our users today and into the future.
So far, we have covered the malware and tracker threats to our users quite well by selectively targeting malicious content. When we blocked an ad in the past it happened more or less as a side-effect of the successful blocking of a tracker or malware. But, with the current trends on the internet, it was clear that we would need bigger guns in the future.
Shut out web tracking with our adblocking technology
We partnered with AdGuard to get the adblocking technology and especially their blocking lists. This has been fully integrated into our browser extensions. You, as the user, have the ability to go beyond just playing nice and asking sites not to track you. You can simply shut them out. This is what it looks like:
The new adblock features are incorporated into ABS (Avira Browser Safety) and Avira Safe Shopping.
Adblocking helps you avoid malware
The online advertising business is highly competitive – and some ad companies rate their cash flow higher than the integrity of the user’s computers. And this is not just malicious stuff. Ads also contain trackers which follow your online moves.
Publishers and website owners are at a security disadvantage. They have very limited control over what is displayed on the end-user’s device. They just may choose the wrong ad company – or maybe a great ad company that subsequently took ads from a less-than-stellar source. The ad streams containing malware and invasive trackers from a variety of sources are simply included into the page the user visits.
Despite the media attention paid to malvertising, we just don’t see the situation improving for the end-user. Already this year, we found that a quarter of our detections could be tracked back to ad companies. There are just too many publishers that need advertising revenue and shady individuals happy to supply them with suspect ads. Adding an adblocker is simply our way of providing users with a secure response to a dangerous situation.
You’ve got control
The new adblocker functions are on by default, but you are always able to deactivate it for all your sites.
When you de-activate the Adblocker feature, our malware protection will still cover you.
How to get the extensions
Many people here at Avira have been involved in this project. But, all the kudos should go to Markus and Raphael. I only wrote about 5 lines of code – I came a bit late to this specific party. Some final words.
For more information
For more info on malicious ads, read the Netzpolitik interview with Thorsten Schröder. It’s in German, but as it is in the publication with a well-earned reputation for being close to treasonous, it is worth a Google Translate read.