Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Ad(ware) Blocker Pros/Cons - Any Recommendations?

  1. Jan 13, 2017 #1
    I've gotten adware/malware from Chess.com and various other sites in the past.

    I think it's from the ads they display there and/or from me clicking ads on those sites accidentally. I've heard of ad/adware blocker programs (don't know of any specific ones, but just the general fact that they exist) that can block ads, but have never looked into downloading one. At the same time I first heard of these programs (a few months ago), I also saw messages on forums saying the blocker programs themselves could lead to vulnerabilities on your computer.

    I'm not particularly tech savvy, so didn't want to deal with those potential problems at the time and figured I'd just be super careful with what sites I visited. However, recently, I have had an itch to play at Chess.com again and have thought about getting an ad blocker program.

    For those with experience:

    1.) What are the pros/cons of ad blocker programs?
    2.) Which brands/programs, in particular, would you recommend?

    Thanks for your help1
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 13, 2017 #2
    How do you know you have gotten malware from that site ?
  4. Jan 13, 2017 #3
    AdBlock, NoScript, Ghostery are all popular. It can depend on your browser. Most are extensions now. Don't forget to white list PF :)
  5. Jan 13, 2017 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The front line of defense must always be being careful about what sites one visits and then what he/she clicks in them.

    Having a adware blocker is not a bad idea in itself but there is no perfect software. There are many open - source/free adware blocking programs that do a decent job, but in many sites, blocking ads, interferes with the operation of the site - user has to accept ad messages in order for site to be fully operational. Other than that, ad blocking programs themselves have bugs - this is absolutely normal from a developer's perspective and don't always work as expected. There are very good commercial products but it really depends on what you need ad blocking for - e.g a company has more and different needs than a simple user. For the average user, I would recommend spending money on this in particular cases.

    Personally, I use plugins for ad-blocking, in Firefox (Adblock Plus) which is decent enough and with very good opinions/reviews and in Opera (Adguard AdBlocker) which is equally good.
  6. Jan 13, 2017 #5

    jack action

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I never minded ads on websites. But lately they take so long to load (I have a 5 Mb/s connection) that the web pages are constantly changing as I'm reading them. So as I was clicking on a link, the link moved and I ended up clicking on another link :mad:.

    Fed up with this behavior, I had to resort to the free plugin Adblock Plus. Although I haven't compare with other products, I'm very satisfied with the results, both on Opera and Firefox. I'm not sure if I'm blocking all ads (they never really caught my attention anyway), but the text I'm reading is not constantly moving around anymore.
  7. Jan 13, 2017 #6
    The single most important thing IMO is patches. If you get an update from Windows or adobe or something else, install the patch. Don't postpone it, install it immediately.

    A lot of malware developers take apart the patches that Microsoft releases to figure out exactly what it is that they are fixing. Then they write a program to exploit the vulnerability was that fixed and hope to catch people who aren't patching their systems in a timely manner. People often leave their updates for days or even weeks because they don't want to waste time waiting.

    Antivirus/antispyware programs will protect you against known threats. They work based on signature matching and some heuristics. If a malicious developer has access to a zero day and writes his/her own payload, there's not much you can do to stop it.

    That's where QuantumQuest's advice will save you, avoid shady sites and be careful what you click on.

    My preference is uBlock Origin & noscript addon for firefox.
  8. Jan 14, 2017 #7
    Hey everyone - Thanks for the responses so far.

    A quick follow-up question I have is whether you all know of any good adblockers for Google Chrome browser?

    I noticed people mentioning programs for FireFox mostly.
  9. Jan 14, 2017 #8
    Most of the big ones have extensions for both
  10. Jan 14, 2017 #9
    I'm not 100% sure, but am guessing that it was Chess.com.

    There have been a good number of complaints to the forum message board about malware in the past and I noticed that my laptop started having problems after playing on their site. Interestingly, it's the largest chess site in the world, but that won't stop malware issues if they allow ads on their site that aren't safe.
  11. Jan 14, 2017 #10
    Okay, thanks.
  12. Jan 14, 2017 #11
    Adblock plus/uBlock origin are available for all the major web browser. Pick either one, you'll be happy.
    NoScript - Firefox only. This one really powerful. In order to do something malicious on a target system, you need to be able to execute code on that system. NoScript prevents pages from running Javascript/flash, etc. If the site can't run code on your system, then it cannot harm you. On the flip side, if the site can't run code, it's not going to be very useful. So you are expected to pick and choose.
    Ghostly - this one was built with privacy in mind and exposes the various means websites track a user's activity online. Then you are given the options to control it.

    It's not one or the other, I feel that people should use all 3. The downside is that the addons will break websites. So you have to sometimes go through the settings and allow specific things. That's where you need to be careful.
  13. Jan 14, 2017 #12
    I asked cause I play a lot on chess.com but never had any trouble. I think I am just lucky.
  14. Jan 14, 2017 #13
    lol. Possibly. I would search "malware" + "chess.com" on either Google or via the Chess.com site's search option itself.

    It seems like a gazillion forum threads pop-up (some even from 2016) and you can get a sense of what others have complained about. I always accidentally clicked on their ads, due to how they arrange them. For example, after you finish a game, there would be a box thingy that comes up to allows you to choose to play another game and other options. But in that same box thingy there was an ad and I'd frequently accidentally run my finger over the finger pad inaccurately and click that ad. It happened a lot with me on those end of game boxes. And the sites I got redirected to looked very sketchy.

    Again, I can't prove I got malware from Chess.com, but I highly suspect it, because of the timing of my laptop issues and playing on their site. Haven't played there since getting a new laptop. I only play at the university computer lab. :biggrin: I figure if I get malware, it'll go onto the school's computer and not my own!

    Although, I wonder if the school's computers aren't "cleaned," if that could infect students on the system?? :eek:
  15. Jan 14, 2017 #14
    I just downloaded AdBlock Plus for Chrome as an extension.

    It took 5 seconds!!

    However, I have a quick follow-up question for anyone who uses it and knows what option(s) is best:

    On the Options Filter Page, you can:

    ENABLE Adblock warning list
    ENABLE EasyList
    Allow some non-intrusive advertising

    The default settings have ENABLE EasyList and Allow some non-intrusive advertising. I selected REMOVE allow some non-intrusive advertising after reading Adblock Plus' Wikipedia page, which said users could get around the default settings this way.

    However, I'm not sure which setting is best when it comes to the other two filter options. Right now, I just have the ENABLE EasyList checked and the ENABLE Adblock warning list unchecked (which was how the two were by default).

    Any ideas as to whether that's the best setting to use?

    Also, would using a second Adblock program interfere with the functioning of another one? I'm a little reluctant to add another program at the moment, because I'm only aware of ADP's reputation being very good and don't know a lot about any others, but also because I wonder if they might interfere with each other the way having two anti-virus programs can.

    Thanks again comrades and cheers!
  16. Jan 15, 2017 #15


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Oh my... Stay away from Adblock Plus, pick uBlock Origin instead. It's been over a year people recommend the latter over the former. ABP allows some ads (!) and has worse performances than uBlock Origin. Just google "adblock plus vs ublock origin" and see by yourself.
  17. Jan 16, 2017 #16
    I was a big fan of Adblock Plus until they started to "Allow some non-intrusive advertising" by default.
    I can understand why they did this, they have to make ends meet/try to make more money and it's easy enough to turn off that feature anyway but for me, it was the principle.
    They were an advertisement blocking application that was allowing advertisements. And that's the main reason I switched over to uBlock Origin. Plus, uBlock Origin is more general purpose and can filter a lot more than just advertisements if you want.
  18. Jan 16, 2017 #17
    ditto liked particularly early adblock. current is ok but having read various reports on ublock I've installed it and disabled adblock to see how ublock is.

    ps. using firefox
  19. Jan 17, 2017 #18


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I hope you mean uBlock Origin. uBlock is not maintained since 2015.
  20. Jan 17, 2017 #19
    yes. and I also mean Adblock Plus
  21. Jan 17, 2017 #20


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    One possible problem with adblocks. Occasionally they may have to be turned off. Example: try to watch a program from CBS.com - it will give you a message that because of adblock, it won't run. In order to watch a program you must watch the ads.
  22. Aug 31, 2017 #21

    jack action

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Little update for me: I don't use an ad blocker anymore. More and more websites are blocking users with an ad blocker, I also noticed that ad blockers do a lot of work (they have to completely read every page - with ads or not - and remove the ads) and there was a lot of hosts still storing cookies on my browser (for metrics, not ads) that I didn't like either.

    I began thinking that blocking the ad hosts would have been a lot more efficient and there was probably somewhere on the net someone that already had a list of them. It turns out there is! This website offers a list of 15 000 of them! You put them in your host file and all requests for those servers are redirected to your own computer.

    If ad blockers increase the speed, it's notably faster with this method. On the plus side, the ad-blocker blockers don't work as the pages are not modified! Also, once set, it is for any browser you may used on your computer.

    A little search on PF shows that it is the method @Borg uses as well, so I'm not bringing something new here. But I thought bringing a link showing how to do it was a nice complementary information.
  23. Sep 2, 2017 #22


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I assume you're aware that some ad blockers such as ublock origin have filter lists (1st and 3rd party as well as your own custom made) which redirect requests from the targeted websites. If you think a list of 15k entries is a lot, then you haven't checked out the most popular ones. With ublock origin I have over 172k network filters and I'm still far from using all the 3rd party filters offered.

    There is also an advanced mode for ublock origin where you can use a dynamic filtering (https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/Dynamic-filtering:-quick-guide).

    And there's also blockers such as umatrix which is a "Point and click matrix to filter net requests according to source, destination and type " which is a popular browser extension and might be better suited for what you seek. It also offers the option to enable huge hosts files for network redirection.
  24. Sep 2, 2017 #23

    jack action

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    @fluidistic : Thank you for this info. You are right, µmatrix seems interesting to me.

    Nonetheless, I will still go with my host file for now. Like I said in my first post, I never minded ads per say. So if one or two get through anyway, I don't mind. I just need to reduce the quantity of those never ending, non-essential requests that slow web surfing to a point that it is almost unusable. [noteToTheAdIndustry] If only they could at least serve simple text or image ads. [/noteToTheAdIndustry] I certainly won't upgrade my hardware and connection just to let people serve me ads I never click or metrics to better follow me from website to website!

    Host file vs extension advantages that are unbeatable for my use right now:
    • Goes to the root of the problem: Unwanted requests are not sent (online);
    • It's much harder (never say it's impossible :rolleyes::smile:) for websites to block my main request because I didn't load the ads;
    • Simple, no new interface or settings to learn;
    • I know exactly what the algorithm do from beginning to end;
    • Well debugged algorithm, no upgrade ever needed;
    • Algorithm is most likely faster and uses less memory than any extension you could ever make;
    • Works on every browser on the computer (or program for that matter).
  25. Sep 3, 2017 #24


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Ok then in this case get more than 15k hosts blacklisted. I had used in the past https://github.com/StevenBlack/hosts which is still the 1st hosts file returned by google and looks pretty popular on github.
  26. Sep 3, 2017 #25

    jack action

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Thank you again. Host file updated.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted