Are Google ad units getting hijacked?[ Edited ]
December 2016 - last edited December 2016
Google, we have a problem! I've recently noticed on my website that the contextual text ads I've set in Adsense only show for about 1 second before being redirected to totally unrelated, non-contextual display/video ads. Some of these ads are normal (cars, holidays) and some are sleazy (casinos, porn). Obviously none of these ads are from Google verified ad networks (I would hope).
I have so far spent a whole week investigating whether this is down to my PC, my browsers, my website or Google:
I have learnt that Adsense ads appear to be affected - Malwarebytes pops up "threat blocked" notices whenever these malware ads try to display. When I have just Hotmail in my browser, the (MSN network) ads it displays do NOT provoke any Malwarebytes notices. Only AdSense ads seem to be affected (infected?).
An IT systems expert kindly tried to help me. We have tried MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Premium Edition, ESET Antivirus, adwCleaner, HitMan Pro and Spybot Search and Destroy. There is nothing relevant to this problem on my PC. He said, wrt these tools, "they are not finding ANYTHING on your PC."
I also know that this problem does not just relate to my site or my PC because he also said: "I decided to open this website (another site) on MY computer and it is displaying this stuff on my PC too. My PC is NOT infected for sure, but I see these weird ads too."
He then sent me some articles about this:
"Upon our discovery we immediately notified Google so they could shut this down… This ad looks legit but hides a silent redirection to an exploit page. Once again, no user interaction is required to trigger the redirection and anyone running an outdated Flash plugin is at risk of getting exploited."
"The majority, if not the entirety, of malicious adverts we have observed were the typical ‘display’ ads, either Flash-based or images where rogue code was embedded within the creative or within the ad-call sequence."
Both these forums seem to relate to directly to the problem I'm having.
I have also read the following forum which suggests contacting you good people here for help and to report it to Google: https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/adsense/V45iOMFKmP0
I've read/been told that any visitor who clicks on these ads will either risk infection of their device or earn money for criminals.
Furthermore, the ads prevent the back button from working – these ads constantly reload which, I believe, the makes the back button only reload the last ad, not the last page. The only way around this is to refresh the page and then back click quickly (i.e., before the display ads hijack the ad unit again).
And Task Manager suggests that my PC's 4gb RAM is being unnecessarily expended (70%) thus slowing down my PC performance. I presume all these display ads are the reason why.
As these display ads start loading, the bottom left corner of the browser flashes up the address details – it states "transferring data from…" then flashes through about a dozen site names, none of which are listed in the Google certified ad networks. I have quickly managed to scribble down 13 of these URLs, and have now blocked them in Adsense. But obviously it's impossible to solve the problem like this myself. Clearly, Google needs to get a grip of this issue somehow. Otherwise people (like myself) will stop using Adsense.
Any comments/advice appreciated. Merry Christmas! PJ
Are Google ad units getting hijacked?