Blackmail Pop-ups? Whatever next…



July 19th, 2006 by Kat Kingsley-Hughes

I was on About.com earlier looking for a link for a class I’m teaching, when I got this popup:

About.com popup screenshot - click for larger image 
[click for larger image] 

What caught my eye with this one was the language … Sure it’s not the first such popup to say it’s tracked all the adult sites it says I’ve visited (which I must point out indignantly, I haven’t, but that’s not the point) this is the first one I’ve seen that seems to be quite so blatant in threatening to compromise my career and my marriage.  Should I be expecting the cyber equivalent of some 50s private eye in a trench-coat to come sidling up to me armed with a brown paper envelope and saying in a husky voice that he’s ‘got the negatives’ some time soon?? 

Hmmmm.  It’s certainly taking on a different tone … but then psychology and social engineering are the greatest tools in the hackers, spammers, and online scammers’ arsenal these days, praying on our fears, weaknesses, greed and guilty consciences too. 

Another issue I have with this type of popup appearing on a legitimate site is that it is aiming to trick you into thinking it’s a legitimate error message from Windows.  I expect you’ve seen this type of popup before, but where do you click to get rid of it?  If you’re suckered into thinking it’s a Windows message (and you don’t have a guilty conscience about having visited any adult sites lately) then cancel will probably be your first choice or the red X ‘Close’ button.  In this instance both of these take you to the software that tries to download on to your computer, as does the OK button. So once you’re in  there’s no way out.  Better double check the popup blocker’s on!

I’ve gotta say I’m really not impressed with About.com having these type of ads.  I’ve linked to them many times in the past from online classes and blogs, but I won’t be doing so in future …

Update: Adrian checked it out and he got a different popup and get this About.com actually downloaded a trojan onto his PC.  Definitely off my list of sensible trustworthy sites!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 19th, 2006 at 12:39 pm and is filed under Web. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Blackmail Pop-ups? Whatever next…”

  1. The PC Doctor Says:

    About.com – now pushing deceptive ads and malware…

    Yes, that’s right.  About.com are now pushing both deceptive ads and malware through their website to visitors.
    It all started when Kathie  was just surfing the web and she ended up on a page on About.com.  On that page she got t…

  2. New rouge security product trick - Your marriage is in danger! » The PC Doctor Says:

    […] Kathie noticed the same trick being used on pop ups a while back . Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

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