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Editor Assistance

December 23 2009 Editor Assistance Newsletter

Greetings, editors!

I have temporarily changed all ads on the site to charity ads. One of our ad feeds - I think it is the Fox ad feed - seems to be having rogue problem ad issues. If I narrow it down concretely to them this time I will completely shut down their feed, and that should keep the ads clean going forward.

To reiterate from other messages on the topic, it's not that the ad really installs viruses on your system. Rather, when an ad shows, it silently installs a "fake antivirus software" on your computer, often called "AntiVirus Live". This software then starts running and claims it is finding all sorts of viruses on your computer. It prompts you (repeatedly) to upgrade the software for a fee so they can clean up these viruses. You don't really have viruses. They just want your credit card payment. Once you pay them, they say "Oh look! We've cleaned your system! You're all set now!" It's an interesting scam.

In any case, it is of course annoying. The problem is that the ad you see on the screen isn't for AntiVirus Live and you don't even have to click on the ad for this process to start. Instead, they hijack an existing ad, stick javascript code into it so the mere fact that the ad shows up on your screen starts the process. So that has made the "hidden" code really hard to track down.

For example, I just had it happen to me. I went to the BellaOnline homepage to check on a change I'd made there. Suddenly I had AntiVirus Live running. I know I don't have AntiVirus Live installed so it was clear that it came from one of the 3 ads on the homepage - but I had no idea which one. And since I was panicking a bit, I didn't write down what the ads were :)

The rogue program is fairly easy to uninstall, once you realize what is going on, so if anyone gets hit with this from any site - don't panic. Let me know and I can step you through it. Again, it doesn't hurt your system at all. It doesn't delete files or steal things. Its sole purpose is to get you to buy it. They want your money :)

I'm going to keep the charity ads on the site - they are 100% safe - until I can be sure the other feeds are safe. If from this point forward you see any suspicious type of ad, or get pop-ups when visiting the site, please let me know! It really helps if you can get a screenshot of all 3 ads (top left and right) in this case, because it could be any of the 3 ads spawning the issue. Or just describe them if you can't do a screenshot, even that will help. Hopefully though I will prove this time it's Fox, shut them down completely, and we'll be fine going forward.

Keeping the ad stream safe is a full time job, and we in general are doing far better than most websites out there! Still, I aim for 100% perfect ads, and your help in keeping an eye on things is much appreciated!


Lisa Shea, owner


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