Deceptive Ad Boxes

Posted By BrokenClaw on February 10, 2008

Advertising boxes, especially the pop-up kind, sometimes try to deceive you about the links in the ad. For instance, they might have one affirmative button that says Click Here or Yes or Try me or Install Now and then a separate negative button that says No Thanks or Close. However, both buttons can easily be programmed to do the same thing — to take you to their website or install bad stuff on your computer. Sometimes the entire box is one single button, so no matter where you click, it has the same result.

If your computer is configured in the normal manner, your cursor is an arrow when you hover over a blank space or over an application command, such as the File, Edit, Print, Help, etc. along the top of a window. The cursor changes to a pointing hand or some other distinct image when you hover over an Internet link. It changes to an I-beam when you hover over text. You need to pay attention to that with ads. If your cursor is a hand, then that part of the ad is a link, whether it says it’s a link or not. If your cursor doesn’t change to the I-beam over text, it means its just a picture of text.

In fact, sometimes the ad box is designed to look like a normal Window, with the regular window buttons in the top right corner, but they are just part of the ad itself. The advertiser has designed the pop-up window to appear without any user controls at all. It is just one big button. Go ahead. Move your cursor over this fake ad box and you’ll see that its all one link. There’s no real text. Even the red-highlighted X in the upper right corner, which normally closes a window, is part of the link.

Fake Window! Do Not Click!

Any time you come across this type of ad box, avoid it at all costs. The fact that the advertiser went to such lengths to deceive you indicates that it is not an honest ad. It is likely trying to install some type of spyware or malware onto your computer. At the very least, it is trying to get you to go to websites that you would not normally visit.

This type of pop-up is the worst of all, because you can’t get rid of it with the normal window clicks. Even if you close the browser, the ad box remains, because it is essentially its own browser. In order to close a window which has no user controls, you have to use a keyboard shortcut. In Windows, the key combination of Alt + F4 will close the active window. On a Mac, Command + W will close the active window.

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