Pi-hole Adblocker

Discussion of topics related to ad blocking.
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Pi-hole Adblocker

Post by gotitbro » Sun May 13, 2018 9:33 pm

Bloomberg recently carried out a feature on the Pi-hole adblocking community (a network level DNS adblocker), a really interesting read with others facts on adblocking as well. Though I've never used it I think maybe I should.

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Interesting takes:
  • In the early days, it was privacy activists and people who had an objection to capitalism in principle,” [speaking of adblocking] says Sean Blanchfield, chief executive officer of PageFair. “These days, it’s just average people.”
  • Barely 100 digital-only ad-tech companies operated in 2011; today there are about 2,000.
  • some 30 percent of the internet’s top 10,000 sites now use software designed to subvert browser-level ad blocking.
  • In 2016 someone showed up in the team’s chat room with a carrier pigeon avatar, a number of sophisticated technical suggestions, and what sounded like inside information. “He was like, ‘You know, this isn’t going unnoticed,’ ” Drobnak [Pi-hole dev] says. “Or, ‘The advertising business, this is something that concerns them.’ ” The carrier pigeon was active for about two to three months, then disappeared.
The article links to this paper in which researchers analyze and try to subvert anti-adblocking mechanisms automatically.

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Post by smed79 » Mon May 14, 2018 3:34 am

gotitbro wrote:The article links to this paper in which researchers analyze and try to subvert anti-adblocking mechanisms automatically.
Is undetectable ad blocking possible?
https://palant.de/2017/04/19/is-undetec ... g-possible (2017-04-19 20:29)
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Post by gotitbro » Tue May 15, 2018 4:17 am

Some highlights from the paper:
  • We employ our system on Alexa top-10K list and are able to detect anti-adblockers on 30.5% websites. From manually checking one third (1000) of these detected websites, we find that the websites that have no visible reactions constitute over 90% of the cases.
  • The filter lists are maintained by a group of volunteers through informal crowdsourced feedback from users. As expected, adding new rules or removing redundant rules in the filter lists is a laborious manual process and is prone to errors that often result in site breakage.
  • In sum, adblockers currently are simply not effective against anti-adblocking. For example, prior work showed that adblockers remove less than 20% of the adblock detection warning messages shown by anti-adblockers.
  • some solutions (e.g., BlockAdblock) utilize eval to wrap their anti-adblocking logic represented as a string
  • most websites choose to outsource anti-adblocking to dedicated third-party anti-adblocking service providers such as PageFair. We note that analytics and ads scripts by Google are the most popular source of anti-adblocking scripts ... we also note several other online advertising services such as Taboola and Outbrain using anti-adblockers.
  • some scripts use the “pixel” technique, which loads a small, unobtrusive piece of image (i.e., pixel) and then drops a browser cookie for future inter-domain ad re-targeting.
  • adblockers are currently struggling to keep up with anti-adblockers due to the challenges in manually analyzing the anti-adblocking Javscript (which we find to be extremely diverse and complex).
  • We anticipate escalation of the technological battle between adblockers and anti-adblockers — at least in the short term. From the perspective of security and privacy conscious users, it is crucial that adblockers are able to keep up with antiadblockers. Moreover, the increasing popularity of adblocking has already led to various reform efforts within the online advertising industry to improve ads (e.g., Coalition for Better Ads, Acceptable Ads Committee) and even alternate monetization models (e.g., Google Contributor, Brave Payments). However, to keep up the pressure on publishers and advertisers in the long term, we believe it is crucial that adblockers keep pace with anti-adblockers in the rapidly escalating technological arms race.
They also setup a website to show cases of anti-adblocking websites and scripts. https://sites.google.com/view/antiadb-proj/.