This is the first post of my series on using computers securely for non-technologists. This post is about online advertisement. Apart from being a nuisance there have been also reports of distributing malware and viruses through advertisement channels on websites. As one can see, online ads are not only annoying but also a security threat. I am often surprised that not many people seem to use ad block software.
My advice is to install an ad blocker. However, there are so many out there that it is difficult to decide. I suggest to use uBlock Origin which is free and open source. It means that it is developed by volunteers and all the functionality can be publicly scrutinized. This is important in order to make sure it does nothing maliciously itself. It is an important property for a piece of code that can see all your online activity.
uBlock Origin is available on all major browsers and I highly recommend to install it right now – in case it has not happened yet.
Pro-Tip: It might be interesting to checkout the settings page and activate region specific block lists. This includes security relevant block lists.
uBlock Origin is quite powerful and supports many more features than simple block lists. They are hidden away from the user in the settings. Nonetheless, the the default settings are already great. I highly recommend to read the documentation on Github for a detailed introduction of all its functionality.
Additionally, I acknowledge that websites rely on advertisements for their business model. Personally I do believe that ads are a plague online but I also think it is important that content creators get paid by the consumers. Alternatives are subscriptions, Patreon or Brave.
I do believe that some form of ads might be even useful and therefore I think Brave is awesome. The folks at brave try to revolutionize the ad industry by introducing acceptable ads and managing the payment for content behind the scenes. I highly recommend to check out the browser and their solution to the problem. It might be the best step forward.
DISCLAIMER: I do not want to endorse the use of ad blockers to get content for free. I only want to support netizens to protect themselves from malvertising.
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