The Hole Truth

Charly's Column – Pi-hole

Article from Issue 200/2017
Author(s):

A strange rule seems to dictate that the most useless products and services have the most annoying online advertising. Columnist Charly blocks the garish advertising for all computers on his network centrally with the Pi-hole tool, which is not only for Raspberry Pi devices.

There are two irreconcilable camps in the discussion on the use of banners and skyscrapers on websites: One is populated by people who get annoyed by garish, flashing, fidgety advertising formats that remind them of neon signs from the 50s. An increasing number of these users simply reject advertising on the web as garbage. The opposing camp is occupied by website owners – amateur bloggers, to name just one example – for whom advertising is the only way to recoup their costs for servers and other things.

People who place ads on their websites usually source them from one of several large commercial networks and simply create placeholders on the sites, which are then later replaced with the ads. Most people do not know exactly what advertising their site is showing at any given time.

The ad networks, in turn, allow the ad creators a great amount of freedom. It is no longer only images that are used here, but also JavaScript and the like. Criminals exploit this to display manipulated advertisements that scan the visitor's browser for vulnerabilities and – if they find any – install malicious software or animate the user to download applications of dubious repute. It can thus happen that visiting a highly reputable website actually infects your own PC with malware.

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