Halloween Hack – How to check if you were exposed


For 83 minutes on Halloween night 2015, some hackers succeeding at getting malware to spread over part of the pagefair analytics network. We provided detailed information on this attack here.

You can use this page to find out if you were at risk from this attack. The attack used javascript to try to trick users into downloading malware by showing an alert dialog that looked like this:

In about 75% of cases, clicking OK on the above dialog would do nothing. However, in 25% of cases, it would have initiated a download of an executable that contained malware. Note that this malware could only affect users of Microsoft Windows, and to become infected the user would still need to run the executable and dismiss warning dialogs.

Halloween Security Breach

PageFair security breach has been resolved – here is what you need to know.

Update 10 – 20:57 GMT, 7 November 2015: How to check if you were exposed

You deserve to know if you were placed at risk during this attack.  If you did download and install the fake Adobe Flash update shown to you, you need to know that the trojan is on your computer Windows computer has been removed by your anti-virus software.

We have outlined exactly what a vulnerable website visitor would have been shown if they accessed a compromised site in the 83 minute window that the hack occurred.  

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Ad Dodgers through the Ages

October 29 is International Internet Day, recalling the first network connection on the Internet’s predecessor, the ARPANET. In celebration PageFair wants to put adblocking in perspective with a little reminder of the fact that the Internet isn’t solely to blame for consumer ad avoidance tendencies.

The rise of adblocking has justifiably made a lot of advertisers and publishers very nervous. With mobile Internet usage exploding, Apple’s implicit acceptance of iOS adblocking and the unleashing of new adblockers on Android, it seems as though 2015 could be the year in which adblocking really starts to hurt.

PageFair’s numbers show that adblocking has been rapidly accelerating over the last few years.


Infographic: adblocked revenue could pay for 245,000 publishing jobs

Our recent adblocking report contained some shocking numbers. In the United States alone, adblocking resulted in an estimated $5.8bn in blocked revenue in 2014 and is expected to cost publishers $10.7bn in unrealized revenue in 2015.

To put these figures into perspective, we decided to see what $10.7bn would buy in the real world, and to determine what this means for publishers and publishing jobs.

Here is our infographic. You can download a large version here, or an even bigger PDF version here.

What you can buy with $10.7bn

At the high end, one Nimitz class aircraft carrier costs approx. $4.45bn to construct.


Advertising: Backdoor for Malware

PageFair’s recent report revealed that global adblocking has increased by 41% over the last twelve months. Internet users are turning to adblocking to avoid annoying advertising and tracking. But a more troubling concern is gradually bubbling up into mainstream awareness and may lead more users than ever to adblock in future: malicious advertising, or “malvertising”.

Malvertising has been around for several years, but the number of attacks have already increased by 260 percent in the first half of 2015, according to cyber security firm RiskIQ. Users are exposed to malvertising when malware distributors piggyback on legitimate ad networks, buying slots and sending out ads loaded with malicious scripts.

Its a trap!

Sterile Future for Open Web?

Corralled in Clean Rooms
Facebook Instant Articles caused a shiver (of excitement or terror, depending on your stance) to ripple through the Internet a few months ago. Facebook cleverly billed Instant Articles as a way to combat slow external sites on mobile devices:

Leveraging the same technology used to display photos and videos quickly in the Facebook app, articles load instantly, as much as 10 times faster than the standard mobile web. Facebook Instant Articles

Sounds great, but it would be disingenuous to claim that Instant Articles is not also aimed at keeping Facebook users corralled ever more effectively. TechCrunch has even argued that Facebook Instant Articles is the “culmination of Facebook’s quest to absorb the Internet”.


AdBlock joins with Adblock Plus

Breaking news…

A new version of the adblocking extension “AdBlock” just rolled out, informing its users that it has been acquired by an unnamed company, and that in connection to that acquisition has joined forces with Adblock Plus’s Acceptable Ads program.

Historically, there has been little love lost between the two browser extensions. AdBlock’s market share had been increasing more rapidly than Adblock Plus’s, due to its dominance on the Chrome browser (and possibly due to its previous uncompromising approach to blocking ads). Much of AdBlock’s success on Chrome can be attributed to it launching in 2009, 5 years after Adblock Plus, with an extremely similar name, logo and implementation.


Advertising 2.0: why publishers must lead

Earlier this month PageFair drew together global publishing leaders in the boardroom of The Financial Times to consider how best to address ad blocking. The fruit of that discussion is “Advertising 2.0: a call to think”, signed today by the CEOs of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and Digital Content Next.

These two industry bodies represent nearly 20,000 publishers and websites across the globe. The ‘call to think’ marks the beginning of a discussion on the future of advertising, and the first step in the global publishing industry’s response to ad blocking.

As PageFair reports each year, we are seeing linear, not exponential, growth in ad blocking.


The Murky World of Ad Hijacking

Images of Somali pirates or Prohibition-era bootleggers may spring to mind when you hear the word “hijacking,” but the concept of intercepting a shipment of goods en route can also apply to the Internet, with ads being a juicy target for online hijackers. If they can set up a sneaky virtual roadblock on a user’s machine, the hijacker can replace ads with their own content. Advertisers fail to reach their targets and publishers end up with their users seeing a page that can be completely swamped by often inappropriate advertising.

The infamous Sambreel might (or might not) be gone, but advertisers and publishers would be wrong to think that their ads and web pages are safe once released into the wild.

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The 2015 Ad Blocking Report

We are pleased to publish our 2015 global report on ad blocking, once again in partnership with Adobe.

In this report we drill into geographic detail, providing per-country and per-state information on ad block usage rates, monthly active user counts, as well as estimates of the total cost to publishers in many regions. We find that not only has ad blocking continued its fast growth on desktop, but it has also leaped onto mobile in Asia, and will soon go mobile in the West with the upcoming launch of content blocking on iOS.

Download PDF

Quick Facts:

  • Ad blocking estimated to cost publishers nearly $22 billion during 2015.