How a banner ad for H&R Block appeared on Apple.com – without Apple’s approval

“Robert Silvie returned to his parents’ home for a Mardi Gras visit this year and immediately noticed something strange: common websites like those belonging to Apple, Walmart, Target, Bing, and eBay were displaying unusual ads,” Nate Anderson reports for Ars Technica.

“Silvie knew that Bing, for instance, didn’t run commodity banner ads along the bottom of its pristine home page — and yet, there they were,” Anderson reports. “Somewhere between Silvie’s computer and the Bing servers, something was injecting ads into the data passing through the tubes. Were his parents suffering from some kind of ad-serving malware infection? And if so, what else might the malware be watching—or stealing?”

Anderson reports, “Around the same time, computer science PhD student Zack Henkel also returned to his parents’ home for a spring break visit. After several hours of traveling, Henkel settled in with his computer to look up the specs for a Mac mini before bedtime. And then he saw the ads [on Apple.com]… Neither Silvie and Henkel were going to let a mystery like this go without solving it. Each embarked on a separate investigation and each came to the same conclusion: their parents’ Internet provider was somehow involved in slapping ads onto webpages as they moved over the network.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David G.” for the heads up.]

15 Comments

  1. I can confirm this is happening via Shaw in Canada as even MDN from any shaw connection is often overlaid with covering banner ads along the bottom.
    This really is a case where I think government needs to step in and set the rules. When we navigate to a site we should expect to see that site *as it was intended to be viewed*. For most artists and online businesses this is imperative, as customers can easily be lost at the slightest annoyance.

    Not to flamebait, but what R66 is doing is no different from what Apple does with their iAd banners … and I find that annoyingly intrusive as well. iAds are more annoying to me as they take up a large slice of my precious iPhone screen real estate, often requiring me to clear them just to access the info I’m looking for.

  2. Can those ISP weasels get through my Firefox installation running Adblock Plus, Adblock Plug Pop-up Addon, BetterPrivacy, Element Hiding Helper for Adblock Plus and Ghostery?

    1. You should not run those things for many other reasons. Even though allot of ads can be annoying, ads on sites like Mac Daily News is what is keeping those sites alive. Blocking those is making everyone a disservice and you are essentially free loading on every one else. If you run a news site you are for the most part dependent on ads. Just imagine yourself running such a business… Sites with too many ads, don’t visit them. Nothing is free. And Internet is powered by ads. Injections like this is illegal but ads presented by the site you visit you should not block. Stop have such an entitlement mentality. You get something and they want something in return. Maybe if you are surfing on a very limited bandwidth I can understand.

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