Chances are, that you’ll never see third party spam ads on your site:
those misleading ads that are misusing your content while trying to syphon traffic from your site. Chances are that you’ll never get into
a similar situation. But chances also are that you will.
And therefore, I decided to make this story public to warn you and
show you ways out of it. So, what happened?
Fair warning from third party ad spam
Just like many others, I usually use Firefox. Ready to launch a new website, I wanted to see what it looked like on another browser and switched over to Chrome. The site looked great, the links worked, everything was perfect.
A few days later, after some more content and some changes on the layout, I switched again to Chrome to check the site.
I couldn’t believe my eyes… on the first page, about 10 words underlined and linked to ads I’ve never seen before, ads that I’ve never had set up or linked to myself. I switched back to my Firefox browser… no ads, no links. Back on Chrome, the ads and links were there…
I checked my site on another computer and got the same results.
On Firefox: nothing, on Chrome: links and rotating spam ads from
an unknown third party.
I took some screenshots to prove myself I was not dreaming,
to prove the trouble was real. Here is one of them:
After weeks of research and emailing back and forth with the customer service on WordPress.com (by the way, thanks again guys!)
I was able to finally, specify where all the trouble came from.
I remembered that
1. I downloaded FileZilla from the Internet – you know that
open source software that allows you upload files to your hosting account, don’t you.
2. I got a message on my main computer to update my iTunes – and was confused why they ask me to do that because the updates are set to auto-updates. But, in the usual hurry, I clicked on the update link – but nothing happened. And I forgot about that…
You see where we’re heading to? Pay attention to system messages and how and where you search for download links from the Internet. And here is why: those first pages that show up on the first places in Google search “containing” the download links you’re looking for, could be some scam pages that outrank the original pages with the original content and links (see also my previous article about
The Scraping problem).
Now, what to do?
How to get rid of all those 3rd party spam ads and links on the website?
I have to mention that yes, I have a very reliable anti-virus and internet safety protection software running in the background
day in day out that usually works like a clockwork catching viruses, trojans and all kind of scammy stuff.
However, I installed a second one from another company to see what results they come up with. And the really surprising thing
was to see how many scammy sites I’ve never visited myself were identified as cookied…
As the problem must have been caused by some extensions and nested on my main computer, here is what I did on Firefox AND
1. I’ve gone through all the unknown sites manually and
deleted all of them;
2. I deleted all the cookies and
3. I deleted all their “saved content” from my computer
4. Scannned the entire computer system to make sure
there’s nothing left out
5. Checked the website on Firefox AND Chrome:
no more ads, no more links.
As you see, sometimes anger can be your best friend when it comes to put yourself to work…
Third party spam ads on your website can damage your reputation as a serious entrepreneur and with that, ruin your online business.
They can contain scripts to spy on you, misuse your data and can cause you many sleepless nights and a lot of work trying to figure out where they come from and what their true intention is.
Hope you get the value in this article and use the information to
pay more attention to how you use the Internet and to check your system on a regular basis even if you’ve not seen yet those third party scam ads on your site.
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PS. By the way… Heard about StealZilla? Experts say StealZilla is
doing what FileZilla does but “actually contains a hardcoded FTP stealer which send user FTP connection information to the hackers behind the attack“. Learn more here.