Your Ad-Blocker and You!
In an age where the majority of households have at least one device connected to the internet that is used for family browsing, the desire for a “Cleaner” experience takes hold. When we talk about a cleaner experience, we don’t mean it shines or smells like lemon Pinesol, we mean free from all the clutter the internet has to offer! Some of this clutter can be useful to website developers and really doesn’t bother anyone, like small ads on the side of a blog post about that lasagna recipe you tried last week.Others though, are much worse. They are annoying, inappropriate, or are harmful to your computer and the data on it.
Safe browsing habits are important for a variety of reasons. They can help keep surfing the internet an enjoyable activity, keep your device safe, and keep your sensitive data out of the hands of people who would misuse it.
When you are trying to read an article about finance, and somewhere on the page is a video that is playing an ad for something completely irrelevant, like OxyClean, it can be very distracting. Even worse can be trying to download that cool application that you heard of online. You Google the application name and are brought to a site that claims to have a free download for you. There are then 5 “Download” buttons and you aren’t sure which is the right one.
These are, at best, distractions that make us pull our hair out when trying to use the computer, and some can have malicious intentions behind them. At worst they facilitate someone getting a hold of your data or installs a virus that limits the functionality of your device!
The easiest way to reduce the impact of these malicious ads, fake links, and misleading download buttons is to install a piece of software known as an Ad-Blocker. This software analyzes the web page you are looking at and attempts to block and hide the types of ads and malicious software that had been highlighted earlier.
Here at HPS we have all students using the uBlock Origins add-on for Google Chrome. This is an ad and pop-up blocker that has returned great results while being completely free. It has a 5 star rating in the Google Chrome Web Store with several thousand installs. Below is a picture of the same website as above regarding misleading links with uBlock turned on.
If you notice, the page looks much cleaner! It is easier to read, with less “junk” in your face and on your screen. This cleaner page helps prevent accidental downloads by simply removing them from view!
There are hundreds of quality Ad-blockers around, each with their own special features and tools to make customizing your online experience easy and intuitive. Many of the same ad-blockers are available for multiple browsers as well. So don’t worry if you are not a fan of Firefox, and only use Safari! You can still have a safe and clean browsing experience without having to change web browsers.