Ad blocker that plays both sides

Millions of people use the tool Ghostery to block online tracking technology—some may not realize that it feeds data to the ad industry.

Source: A Popular Ad Blocker Also Helps the Ad Industry | MIT Technology Review

This plugin shows what sites are tracking you as you are on the web. This is interesting. It is possible to block advertisers with this tool as well, but it isn’t clear that you aren’t blocking all advertising types. With this tool and AdBlocker you really have significant privacy on the web.

The downside of this tool is that it sells your information but it does ask for your permission and you can choose not to share if you don’t want to. I understand they need to make a living, and they are honest about it. So to me, this is acceptable if you do something and know the risks.

What is interesting about this software is the way they are letting people know about it. My friend went to the NY Comic Con this weekend and they had a booth and were giving away a little ghost to visitors. I guess the Comic Con demographic are key decision makers. Isn’t it funny how anything that makes money is socially acceptable now?

Would this help the average person? I think it would. It would show what information is known about them and where they go isn’t as private as they think. People may not understand how much they are tracked and this makes it real. What would be even better is if the biggest offenders of stealing information could have some accountability and pay people for the money they have made off of them. I don’t mind that other people make money as long as they do it in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone. Privacy is a real hurt especially for those who are economically unstable. Privacy helps those who are doing illegal things, but it helps more those who are honest.

The danger of installing “free” programs from the Internet

BrowseSmart is an adware program, that displays pop-up ads and advertisements on web pages that you visit. The “Ads by BrowseSmart” advertisements will be shown as boxes containing various coupons that are available, as underlined keywords, pop-up ads or advertising banners. What is BrowseSmart? BrowseSmart is advertised as a program that displays coupons for sites …

Source: Remove “Ads By BrowseSmart” virus (Easy Removal Guide)

Many websites like CNET or so on offer “free” programs. These programs come bundled with software that are designed to make money for the company that added them to the site. I had a customer download one of those files and when they installed it, they also had installed this BrowseSmart program. This program like many unwanted programs is designed to download other unwanted applications and also change how your browser works. It randomly changes links and has pop up windows with advertising. Not software you want on your computer.

This was cleaned by Sophos easily. It required a reboot of the computer but then it was gone. Sophos has been fantastic. I have everyone I know using it and only once have I had to use a competing product to clean something it found. It found a malware rootkit that it said would have to be deleted manually. The instructions for it were complicated and time-consuming so I used Malwarebytes and it removed it.

I shared earlier an article that the reason that email spam is decreasing is because criminals are focusing more on malware. Programs that infect your computer and attempt to make money in various ways. This malware can generally be easily cleaned and protect you using a good Endpoint protection program. Since the threats now are more than just viruses, endpoint protects more than used to be protected. It is great that as the threat is increasing, security is also increasing. Since I mostly help people with Windows computers I personally use a Mac at home with Sophos. I only encounter a virus when I go to a webpage that has one. If there was some way to filter viruses and malware on an ISP level that would take out much of the danger. Its strange isn’t it? President Obama said Internet access is a right and a utility like electricity. However would we allow bad electricity that could damage our equipment and data? It’s strange that ISPs say that they have no responsibility for filtering yet inject ads in the data-stream thereby showing that they can filter at the data level.

It’s clear that ISP’s are doing what is beneficial to them. Short sighted behavior increases complexity and costs for everyone.