It’s no secret that online advertisements are a billion dollar industry, but as it has exploded over the last few years, so has the complexity of these “advertisements”. What used to be just a picture ad on a website, can now be annoying popups that auto-play video and sound, deceiving images that trick you into playing a “mini-game” at a malicious website, or at worst, a spyware-loaded executable that can change your homepage and browser settings, and even send a virus automatically as the page loads.
Luckily, there are some products out there to help minimize the annoyances and security risks these “advertisements” pose. AdBlock Plus is a highly configurable browser extension that blocks advertisements, popups, and auto-playing videos from websites. From your computer browser, simply visit their website (https://adblockplus.org/), and download the free extension. But beware- just because of the nature of the beast, there are several fake “ad blocker” sites that claim to act like AdBlock Plus but end up exposing you to more malware and viruses on your machine. We suggest using the link above. If you’re on your smartphone, things get a little trickier, but you can download the AdBlock Plus browser from both the iOS App Store and the Google Play store on your phone to get similar results on mobile devices.
If you’ve already got AdBlock Plus installed, you might not be aware that you can tweak a lot of the settings to your liking. Not only can you block popups and ads, but you can clean up the interface to Facebook and Youtube. Lifehacker posted a great customization article a while back, and it’s worth a read if you haven’t touched the settings for AdBlock Plus in a while: http://lifehacker.com/everything-you-can-do-with-adblock-plus-that-isn-t-jus-1469861264.
Using an ad blocker isn’t going to be your end all be all solution…you still need to have an antivirus program, and be “smart” when browsing online, but it will help minimize the potential threats, and should make your browsing experience more enjoyable.